By Mark Taylor
January 16th, 2009

It was back in April 2006 that I first reviewed satellite navigation software for Brazil: TomTom‘s entrance into the Brazilian satnav market, primarily because TomTom were offering one of the best core programs in terms of usability and interface. Things have not changed much in almost 2 years and TomTom are still arguably at the head of the pack, so I was happy to see around the middle of last year that TomTom released their dedicated devices with preloaded maps in Brazil. I was even happier to see in December that they released downloadable maps for Navigator, their PDA/mobile product which is the platform I prefer to use. Although I’m away from Brazil most of the year I did have a chance to visit São Paulo state in mid-December, so it was an ideal opportunity to try out the map.

For those who aren’t familiar with TomTom at all, it’s typical of most satnav programs in that it offers a 3D view while driving, spoken directions, 2D maps, and various other features, such as points of interest. Where TomTom tends to excel is that both the 3D view – which you spend most of your time using – and other features are a good balance of simple yet useful.

In practise the Brazil map was a similar experience to those I’ve used elsewhere. For the most part the map was accurate and informative. I already had some points of interest installed e.g. speed cameras, so I am unsure which actually came with the TomTom map (if anyone can advise on that I would be curious to know). A tip for those that use it, that Rua is shortened to R”, and Avenida is shortened to “Av”, although Alameda is still “Alameda”.

It wasn’t all gravy though. There were two major errors that would crop up repeatedly in São Paulo city:

1. Suggesting U-turns could be made, typically in avenues, when it was not actually possible or prohibited.

2. Suggesting left-hand turns, again typically onto avenues, when it was prohibited.

Both the above would be a pain for a relatively savvy driver who was used to Brazilian roads, but could lead to an accident in extreme circumstances for those who are not so savvy.

Ironically though while writing this review I received an email from TomTom that stated “na versão 8.15 2095, que foram baixados nas ltimas 6 semanas de 2008 podem apresentar erros de navegaão, em particular sugerindo de virar ou fazer curvas e retornos em lugares não permitidos.” (in version 8.15 2095, that was downloaded in the last 6 weeks of 2008, there were navigation errors, in particular that suggest you can turn or make U-turns in places that are not permitted). The instructions then stated to download the latest map in TomTom Home.

So hopefully TomTom have spotted the above problems and corrected most if not all of them, particularly due to their serious nature for drivers unfamiliar with Brazilian roads. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has the map update.

The only other problem I experienced seemed to be due to “map fidelity”, as when travelling to the countryside I purportedly came off the toll road, according to TomTom, and was driving in a neighbouring field. This happened for sufficiently long that it didn’t seem to be a satellite error, and more so a slight error in the location of the toll road. Not a showstopper, but again it might have proved confusing for an inexperienced driver.

Two caveats with the review:

1. I was only using TomTom in and around São Paulo city. I would certainly be interested to hear from others who use TomTom elsewhere in Brazil, as one of the useful features of TomTom is a fully integrated Brazil map, that doesn’t require map changes while driving across the country.

2. TomTom is not the only satnav product out there. Garmin is another manufacturer that I frequently see recommended, along with STI, and Airis, although I have not had a chance to try these. I am sure there are others, and it will pay to shop around. Again, if I can ask readers to let us know their experiences, either good or bad.

Readers comments:

Have a look into the following link, if you do not know it already.

Recent forays into Uruguay and Argentina were also accomplished by the maps provided by another Peer user group in Argentina:

Previous articles by Mark:

Around Brazil: Boiucanga
Brazil: São Paulo – The Forgotten City
Brazil: Mythbusting!
Brazil: Enough of the “Estrangeirismos”
Understanding Brazil: Sense of Humour
Brazil: The “Turistas” Storm in a Teacup
Understanding Brazil: Christmas and New Year’s Traditions
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 5
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 4
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 3
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 2
Brazil: An Interview with Marcia Loebick
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 2
Brazil: Google Maps Gets an Upgrade
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 1
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 1
Brazil: Daylight Savings Time
Brazil: Carjacking and Theft
Brazil: Airport Delays Grow Among Crash Speculation
Brazil: São Paulo’s International Film Festival (and The Fountain)
Brazil: Single Gringo Beware!
Brazil: The House of Coffee Comes Home
Brazil: Film Review
Brazil: The Portuguese Language Museum
Brazil: Election Time! Part 2
Brazil: Election Time! Part 1
Brazil: Torrent TV
Brazil: Book Review
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 1
The PCC Shows a New Level of Organisation
Brazil: Metr-ettiquette
Brazil: Trading Places
Brazil: São Paulo’s Pinacoteca
Brazil: Don’t Forget, You’re in Another Country!
Brazil: PCC Violence Returns to São Paulo
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
Brazil’s World Cup Defeat Party
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 4
Brazil: Japanese Standard Chosen for Digital TV
Brazil: NET Petition Feedback
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 3
Brazil: Football Love
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 2
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 1
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 3
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 1
GPS in Brazil
Brazil: PCC Attacks in São Paulo
Brazil: Tips on Buying or Renting an Apartment or House
Brazil: A Critical Sensitivity
Cleanliness is next to Brazilianiness
Brazil: Manners
Brazil: No Change, No Sale
Brazilian TV
Brazil: Ubatuba
Brazil: Professional Children
Brazil: We deliver… everything!
Brazil: Terrao Itlia
Brazil: A Layman’s Carnival Guide
Brazil: Portunglish or Engluguese?
Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN

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