Ben Laurie blathering


I could swear I’d written before about the TomTom Rider, which I use on my bikes, and love dearly. Well, mostly. Good points:

  • Uses bluetooth to connect to my phone to get updates on traffic conditions, and routes around blockages.
  • Not intolerable user interface.
  • Cute trick (that I haven’t used yet) of tracking your buddies.
  • Talks to me in my helmet.
  • Warns me about “safety” cameras. Mostly.

Bad points

  • No tracking, very disappointing if you want to figure out where someone else took you, or you went randomly.
  • Weird slight randomness in routing (for example, Aylesbury to West London might choose to use the A355 down to Beaconsfield, or to continue down the A413, which is definitely faster).
  • Latest version of the s/w kills my Rider, but TomTom won’t fix it unless I send the Rider back in – and they won’t provide a replacement to use in the meantime.
  • Occasionally crashes.
  • Itinerary (their name for routes) handling is pathetic.
  • “Glove friendly” UI is actually pretty much impossible to use in gloves.

Anyway, all that said, I’ve been musing about using the TomTom in the car. The snag is that the only way the Rider has of talking to me is via a bluetooth headset – which is OK in a helmet, but I really don’t like their non-helmet version. For a start, it doesn’t stay in my ear. So, I’ve been considering alternatives, and I figured I’d ask the Lazyweb for suggestions. Perhaps even something I can use on both car and bike.


  1. An alterative to a complete GPS package is to get a bluetooth GPS. It’s a basic GPS that offers a serial interface which can be connected to via bluetooth. You can then use whatever client you want, the best part of course being that your client can be on a mobile phone !

    I’ve used a few j2me clients and Nav4all is a really good free option.
    Some details on various mobile phone GPS clients is available at:

    And some stuff on recording your trips is at:

    The bluetooth GPS is nifty for wardriving etc with kismet too.


    Comment by Gavin — 1 Aug 2007 @ 11:08

  2. Have you looked into the Garmin Zumo? I’ve been a hard and fast Garmin user for years, but mostly their backcountry and aviation products. I’ve been eyeing the Zumo. My experience with Garmin products is that they tend to get it more right than wrong. Their aviation products are fantastic and hard to beat. The Zumo even has a left-hand-centric interface. There is one at Fry’s in Sunnyvale that I keep meaning to take a look at.

    Comment by Alan H — 29 Nov 2007 @ 19:45

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