1. The Review
TomTom One GPS
We have finally come to a time where stand-alone GPS units have broken the US$300 price barrier - some are even available for under US$200.00. There are so many to choose from, but how much GPS do you really need? Is it really possible to have almost everything you need in a portable GPS unit and not have to break the bank? Well, TomTom believes the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes" and they have backed up their claim with the TomTom One. The "One" is a nicely sized (3.5" diagonal screen) portable unit that just might be the GPS unit you have been looking for.
TomTom has long been regarded as one of the leaders in GPS software. They were one of the first to release GPS software for Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices and quickly adapted their software to their own "all in one" devices. Now, TomTom offers a full line of GPS devices, from the basic TomTom One to the more sophisticated 910 and others.
The TomTom One is a very sleek device. It has a beautiful 3.5 " full color screen with very good resolution. The screen is designed to be visible even in bright sunlight. The screen, like most GPS units, is a touch screen.
On the top of the device is the power button and the LED charging light. On the back of the device is a large speaker (which was quite loud and clear) and a jack for an optional external antenna. Along the bottom is a slot for an optional SD card and the mini USB jack for charging.
The TomTom is designed for one finger usage and the first time you turn it on you can configure it for left or right handed use - a very nice touch.
The overall design is quite stylish and it is clear that the TomTom One is designed for simplicity of use.
The TomTom One can be set up in one of two ways. Either, it can be turned on, activated and used - or you can opt for the computer setup (which offers lots of options) which is what I used. I simply plugged the included USB cable into my computer, inserted the CD and the setup and installation software opened. From there, I set my "Home" address and time and entered the activation code (supplied on a plastic card) and activated the GPS over the Internet.
The CD installs a TomTom "Home" program which allows you to download additional voices and backup all your information - I'll cover more on that later.
Ease of Use:
I have always loved the TomTom software - I found it intuitive to use and very powerful. The TomTom One only re-enforced that. The first time I turned on the "One" it did take about three minutes to locate my position. Once that was secured, I simply touched the screen and was presented with the navigation menu. From this screen, I could navigate to some specific place, POI or address or change my preferences, or tap the arrow to move to next screen which would allow me to navigate to a city center, particular zip code, intersections or street and house number.
One thing I like about the TomTom software is that when navigating to a particular city, you don't have to go through the steps of inputting the State, City or town and street - you just type in a city name and the software displays matching information across the country. I never knew there were so many towns named "Boston" - but I quickly found the one I was looking for, tapped it, then put in the street name and number and hit "done."
The TomTom asks if you need to arrive at a particular time (to calculate quicker routes) and if you want to go on toll roads (if applicable.) Hit "done" and your route is first displayed on the screen and then the 3D map guides you turn by turn.
Here is what sets TomTom apart from much of the competition. The options for the TomTom One are plentiful. You can customize the display, change the voice, change to the metric system, change languages, put it in "Night Vision" mode (less bright for driving at night) and adjust the information that you see at the bottom of the screen. You can have the time, signal strength, arrival time, miles to destination, next street you will turn on and more - any or all - displayed along the bottom of the screen.
So much of the data is user definable – you can see how long until your destination, what time you will arrive, how fast you are going, how long until your next turn, the name of the street you are currently on and more.
When you connect your TomTom to the computer, you have even more options at your disposal. I was able to download (for free) the database with all the Dunkin Donuts stores throughout the country. Now, my screen shows me the logo for Dunkin Donuts whenever one is near and they appear in my POI (points of information) database for navigational purposes.
As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of options available (some for free and some for a fee) on the TomTom Home web site. Celebrity voices like John Cleese or Mr. T can be added as can more POI's and maps of other parts of the world.
In short, the TomTom can be as feature filled or as simple as the user wants - it is nice to have all the options, my guess is that most users are looking for a simple way to get from point A to Point B - and the TomTom certainly can do that.
Accuracy and Real World Use:
This TomTom GPS was very accurate - in fact is was "dead on" in most of my navigational tests. The data base was pretty much up to date - I did find that roads that had been changed within the last year in my home part of the country had yet to be reflected in the software - but that is not unusual.
I navigated all around the East Coast as well as on my little island and the TomTom was flawless. The GPS would count down by yards as I got close to an intersection or my next turn and I only overshot one turn in my tests - not bad at all!
One nice feature of this software is that it assumes when you get in that you want to go home. When you first start the software, you input your home address and that is saved. You can also save any other trip and a record is also kept in a “recent trip” file.
If you aren’t going home, it is so easy to plug in a new destination. It takes very little effort to input a new destination and, once planned, the trip is seamless.
If you take a wrong turn, don’t worry – the software will re-route you on the fly. You can even tell it to avoid toll roads and highways or visa versa. One very nice feature is that when you plug in your destination, the software asks you if you need to arrive at a particular time – if you need the “quickest” route – it will send you that way.
The POI feature is implemented wonderfully on this program as well. Just navigate to Points of Interest and select what you are looking for – restaurants, movies, museums, airports – whatever. Find the one you want, touch the navigate button and you are re-routed to that point.
This is calculated very quickly and so very useful. Imagine you are on the highway in a strange city and your spouse has a craving for sushi. Just search for “closest Japanese restaurant” and look at the list. Pick one that is near by and TomTom does the rest. Now, there is always the risk that the restaurant may have closed – but I have not encountered this in my testing.
The TomTom One is very easy to use, very powerful and a very accurate portable GPS device. The screen is gorgeous, the 3D perspective is very nice and helpful for driving and the sound is very clear. The TomTom also adjusts the sound based on speed - so as you faster on the Highway, it gets a little louder to make sure you can hear it - a nice feature.
The bottom line for a GPS is that one wants to get to the destination easily - and the TomTom certainly allows the user to do just that. Add in all the other included features, plus the availability of additional downloads for voices and POI's and an optional traffic service that you can subscribe to and this is a very full featured GPS unit. If you have a Bluetooth Phone that is on the list of compatible devices, you can dial for traffic updates ( for a fee) and even use the TomTom as a handsfree device - what more could you want.
In Short, I really can't think of anything a user might want to do that the TomTom could not do. It is small, sleek, easy to use and it just works well.
- Nice size
- great screen
- easy to use
- powerful software
- lots of add ons
- POI database could be a little more robust
- the traffic feature only works with a select few models of bluetooth phones
The TomTom One is available at www.tomtom.com and at lots of retailers for US$299.00.