Review: TomTom Rider 400 GPS, Part 2

Aug 11, 2016 View Comments by

TomTom Rider 400 GPS

Slick, light, but robust, the Rider 400 is an improvement on the weightier outgoing model. Translucent widgets and panels make the user interface graphics design easy to use, and information shown on the side bar—e.g., upcoming gas stations—is very useful. The screen is bright and colorful. While it’s not a Retina display, it does look quite good.

It took about a minute for the device to start up, but its six-hour battery life was exactly as advertised. To lessen start-up time, I put the device to sleep when I wasn’t using it rather than shutting it down.

Basic ad-hoc navigation from the current position to another waypoint is simple. Searching for an address includes free text matching—like Google Maps—with automatic suggestions as you type, allowing for quick lookup of any destination, though results can take a while to load. One of the highlights is the advanced Plan a Thrill feature, which creates interesting and challenging routes on the spot. The degree of hilliness can also be chosen. When you open the function, a map of your current location appears and you choose the place you want to ride through by tapping on the screen. This is counterintuitive at first, but TomTom is putting emphasis on ad-hoc visual navigation. When I used it, requesting to go to some arbitrary point I picked on the map, the roads were indeed entertaining.

The excellent embedded route editor of the previous model has been dropped in favor of a deep menu-based system. Riders who like to pre-plan will be happy to know TyreToTravel’s interactive software can be used to design and edit routes on your PC (no Mac support) ahead of time.

The processor seems to be slow, and the sluggish cold boot time supports this, too. In urban New Jersey, plenty of details about the surrounding area were shown, but on a trip to Maine I was surprised to see the Rider display only main roads with huge white areas surrounding, and was unable to use the map for visual navigation when trying to find alternate routes.

Smartphone navigation apps are tough competition, but the Rider 400’s waterproofing, robustness, superb RAM mounting kit, and pre-planning and Plan a Thrill features make it a worthy opponent.

TomTom Rider 400 GPS
Price: $499.95

Read part one of this series here.


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