Zumo XT: reliable bluetooth? The Rider 550 is unusable because of connection issues

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by TheLondonder, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    I recently bought a Tom Tom Rider 550 which I (try to) use with an Android phone. I am in Europe but I guess the models on sale are the same all over the world.

    The bluetooth connection to the phone is so unreliable that it basically makes the sat nav unusable (it will show me a route but no traffic data, which is what I need). TomTom are refusing to refund or replace - they say it's a known issue and thank me for my patience while they fix it. Yeah, right.

    My question is: is the new Garmin Zumo XT any better? Is the bluetooth connection with Android phones reliable? I don't care so much about handsfree calling but about traffic data. I am trying to see if the store, which sells both Garmin and TomTom, would replace it with a Garmin, or at least give me some kind of discount.

    I have tried - multiple times - the IT approach of unpairing, resetting the Rider, wiping the cache partition of the phone, sacrificing my firstborn while praying to the gods of bluetooth, and then repairing - nothing. I always make sure I manually open the MyDrive app but, even so, the connection comes and goes and is practically unusable.

    I had chosen the TomTom and not the Garmin because:
    • I use the TomTom app on my phone when driving the car
    • I like that you can browse, plan routes, set favourites etc on the web and it syncs to all your devices
    • Many years ago I found TomTom's traffic data better than Garmin - no idea if that's changed now
    • I don't like the Garmin having a micro-usb connection (what century is this?)
    However, all of these become moot points if the connection to the phone doesn't work.
    #1
  2. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

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    Watching this thread with interest as I have a Tom Tom 550 which I have not put on the bike yet, but am thinking of returning for a Zumo XT due to the limited amount of control you have for the phone on the GPS unit.

    I've switched the TT on a few times; sometimes it has paired properly. I think once or twice it didn't.

    OP are you able to answer this question: Can the phone be paired to the TT550, then the TT550 to your Bluetooth intercom and not have the phone paired directly to the Bluetooth intercom? I tried to do this last night (i.e. route the phone through the TT550, not direct to intercom) but could not get phone audio through the intercom.
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  3. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    To be honest, I'm starting to think that, unless you have very specific needs (eg off-road riding on routes that require Garmin and Base Camp, and for which Android or Iphone apps won't do) , buying a cheap used rugged waterproof phone and using that as a sat nav would be best.


    Some people report that the issues with TomTom are to do with the Bluetooth Low Energy profile; however, Garmin's tech support replied to me in writing that even the Zumo XT uses BLE.

    The truth is, these thingies seem very temperamental and, unless you can speak to multiple people who have tried it with your exact same phone, intercom and firmware versions, whether your kit will work with the sat nav or not is anyone's guess - which is really unacceptable in 2020, but it is what it is.

    Browsing through forums etc it seems that there are more connection issues with the TomTom than with the Garmin, but who knows how representative that is.

    I honestly don't know. I had never looked into it because I am not sure what the point would be. I want the option of having the intercom and the phone connected to each other even if I don't have my sat nav, because I will always have the intercom in my helmet and the phone in my pocket, while I may not always carry the satnav with me.

    I had a quick look at the manual http://download.tomtom.com/open/manuals/Rider_Wi-Fi/refman/TomTom-RIDER-EU-UM-en-gb.pdf and it doesn't say anything on this.

    What do you mean by limited amount of control of the phone?
    Out of curiosity, what can you do with the Zumo XT on this that you cannot do with the TomTom?
    Most riders would typically use the intercom and/or the phone voice dialling capabilities to make and take hands-free calls. I would certainly not want an option to choose and dial a contact from the screen of the sat nav as that may be dangerous and distracting.
    The Rider 550 can display notifications for whatsapp text messages etc (which worked for a while for me but doesn't work any more now) but on that, too, the jury is still out as it can be very distracting.
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  4. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

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    I actually bought a rugged phone before I bought the TT550. I'm still using the phone as my primary nav until I figure out which way to go with a dedicated GPS.

    Unfortunately the rugged phone is not an ideal solution either, basically from PITA factor. For these reasons:
    - You cannot get a SP Connect/Quad Lock case for a rugged phone, so you need to use a RAM X-grip. Putting it in the X-Grip and attaching the secondary rubber restraint is fiddly.
    - Unless you spend a lot on a rugged phone, it has no wireless charging so you need to plug a power cord in
    - When you run a power cord, it's not waterproof
    - Bike vibrations seem to work the power cord loose in the phone, so you end up with the phone discharging on the bike instead of being powered until you notice and fix it.
    - The phone screen is harder to use with gloves than a dedicated GPS. Infact I'd say it is impossible to use safely with gloves while you are moving.

    No experience with the Zumo XT, but I have an old Zumo 660. The things I can do on that which I can't on the TT550 are:
    - Direct view of call lists on the phone, without using voice control
    - Phone can connect to the GPS without direct connection to intercom. I find controlling the phone from the GPS is easier than trying to push buttons on the helmet or shout answer into the microphone.
    - You can download MP3 music to the GPS and play it. It looks like the XT can also control some online streaming services, but I don't know how much.

    FYI I'm not trying to create some kind of mobile bike office. I just want to be able to easily answer the phone if my wife calls while I'm riding and easily be able to turn music on and off while riding. I'm paranoid about speed cameras even though I don't really break the speed limit, so I want reliable audible camera warnings. In my case, I always use the GPS because of speed camera paranoia, but I don't always need or want to have my phone connected. Therefore phone connection to GPS makes sense for me.
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  5. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    You raise good points.

    I was thinking of getting a used CAT phone - all reviews say they work OK with gloves.
    A Tackform or Hondo Perfect Squeeze grip should be more robust than the Ram x-grip.
    You're right on wireless charging.

    As for the phone to GPS connection, I have a Cardo Freecom 4+ intercom, bought mainly because of its voice recognition features. So I'd rather control the music from the Cardo than from the sat nav (Hey Cardo, volume up - Hey cardo, next track, etc). That's the reason why I have no interest in controlling the music from a sat nav, because I'd lose Cardo's voice control features.

    Another advantage of the phone over the sat nav is that I can use Waze, which typically gets updated more quickly when there are road closures or any kind of very recent change to the road layout.

    BUT I think sat navs are brighter and easier to read under the sun, especially the Zumo XT, which advertises 1,000 nits (more than the Rider 550).

    All in all, the TomTom Rider 550 would be very good for my needs - if only the connection weren't so *** temperamental!
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  6. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

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    ^ I think there are gloves and there are motorcycle gloves. My rugged phone (Ulefone Armor X7) is supposed to work with gloves, but it is temperamental. The big thing though is that any apps for the phone are designed for use without gloves. Therefore, even if you can get your phone to recognise a glove touch, the buttons are too small to use. The phone screen is also a bit less readable in daylight than a dedicated GPS screen.

    As I'm using the phone until I come up with a different idea, my procedure is:
    - Enter destination on nav app. I'm using the phone version of Tom Tom or Waze, depending on my mood.
    - Start Amazon music, if I want music
    - Any changes to either of the above, stop bike, take off gloves and mess with the phone that way

    I really wish that either Tom Tom or Garmin or someone would make some gadget which has a GPS and works seamlessly with a phone connected and with your intercom. But as you said earlier, it's 2020 and we still are not there yet.
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  7. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    How bright is your screen of the ulefone armor x7? How does it compare to Tomtom, Garmin or more common phones (iphones, Samsungs, etc)?
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  8. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

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    I just turned up the brightness of the Ulefone and an iPhone up to full. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say the iPhone is +2/3 of an f-stop brighter. I've only ever used a Garmin Zumo 660 on a bike. I'd say a dedicated sat nav is more readable than the phone. It's not just the brightness; on the 660 the screen is less reflective. However, I am able to read the Ulefone on the bike even in full sunlight.

    Bear in mind you can literally buy 10 Ulefones for the price of one iPhone.

    ----

    I just boxed up the TT550 and sent it back. Shame that what was once the premier navigation device for ease of use is going back. But I just thought it didn't offer anything over a phone other than being easier to put onto the bike, vs having to fiddle with a RAM X-Grip and a phone. Once the store processes the return, I'll get a Garmin Zumo XT so at least that can control my phone and do something other than being a navigation device.
    #8