By Ethan Dougherty
on 2.23.10

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Recently, we asked Gear Patrol fans on Facebook whether there was any type of product they’d like to see more coverage on at our site. One reader responded asking about what was the absolute best Car GPS device on the market today. So, to answer that question, we present the TomTom GO 740 Live GPS. Released early in 2009, this is the first device offered by the well-known GPS manufacturer to feature a built-in wireless data internet connection. Subsequently, besides your typical GPS-related information, this model can access information such as live traffic reports, weather forecasts, gas prices, and even perform local searches powered by Google. However, the cost of this convenience is included only for the first three months after buying the unit, and from then on requires a $10-a-month subscription fee in order to work.

This “always on” connection does allow so-called TomTom Buddies to share their location with each other as well and even instant message, as long as they both have a TomTom Go. While this frankly comes off as slightly unnecessary in our book (cough, have they ever heard of txt messages?), we could see some value in it for those who caravan often on road trips.

Another unique concept integrated into this flagship unit is known as IQ Routes. Basically, this service has a unique routing algorithm which incorporates historical speed and drive time data from TomTom users to better adjust suggested routes. For example, if TomTom users frequently spent an hour longer on a particular route during rush hour, IQ Routes would take this additional traffic and time of day delay into account when optimizing fastest route suggestions for those looking to drive during that window.

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TomTom Map Share also allows drivers to tap into the expertise of local drivers who have found inaccuracies such as incorrect street names, speed limit indications, road restrictions etc. in certain GPS maps and provided corrections. These driver submitted corrections can be toggled to display on screen if desired, or filtered to only show suggestions evaluated and approved by TomTom.

Physically, the device measures .9 inches thick which tapers out at its edges. Users navigate the Go 740 via the TomTom’s 4.3-inch color touch screen. A microSD slot is also included in the bottom should users wish to supplement the 2GB of internal storage. In a nice touch, the Go 740 ships with both a car cradle that uses suction cups to attach to the lower windshield, as well as a desk cradle for updating the device from time to time via USB. Disconnected from the charger, TomTom states the Go 740 can operate off of battery power for up to 3 hours, which frankly we think is a little on the low side and would have liked to see bumped up.

All in all though, while some may be disappointed at the GO 740 Live’s performance in terms of location lock speed and route suggestion, the machine’s other features make it a worth while investment for those looking to access a slew of driver focused information without flipping out their phone. However if you’re really not a fan of TomTom, we’d also suggest checking out the Garmin Nuvi 880 which boasts a similar set of specs.

Considering the GO 740 Live’s initial release date, prudent buyers without an immediate need might also be better off waiting to see what TomTom will release later this year, as the 740 could potentially be one up-ed by a newer model. If you need something now however and aren’t on a strict budget, picking up this model is a smart move, especially taking into account its recent drop in price. For options of where to buy, check out the links below.

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Buy Now: $264