THE BEAT BEAT OF THE TOM TOM

We got two snazzy gadgets that seem like good bets for holiday gifts. One is a new TomTom GPS device and the other a TomTom-powered sports watch.

We still prefer a dedicated GPS device to a smartphone app. A GPS device has a larger screen and, unlike a phone, doesn’t distract us with calls and messages. The latest TomTom “Via 1605” has a larger, sharper screen than earlier models; it’s six inches diagonally, no squinting required.

There are traffic updates throughout the day. When you tap the road speed sign, a Google style map shows up.. A flashing red arrow could save your neck on theCaliforniafreeways and maybe a few other places. It highlights the correct lane for changing over to a new road or another freeway. In some places, if you take the wrong exit lane it’s many miles before you can correct your mistake.

The new TomTom comes with the usual suction cup to affix it to the dashboard. But best of all is it comes with a lifetime supply of maps, which are updated quarterly. The battery life is two hours, and it comes with a charger that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter (they used to be called cigar lighters). You tap on the screen to plan a route; there’s no Bluetooth, so spoken commands are out.

The Via 1605 is $230. But if you don’t care about the six-inch screen and extra features, you can get a TomTom with a 4.3 inch screen for $60 from TigerDirect.com. Those are the ones we gave out last year at Christmas.

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