TomTom claims to provide the world’s best GPS service and since its been in India for a couple of years, we went out and tested one of their products to find out what the hype was about.
The TomTom VIA 125 feels robust and just gripping it once will reassure you of its excellent build quality. Upon unpacking, there's nothing complicated about it, and you don’t need a manual to mount it on a windscreen.
[Left - TomTom VIA 125 when idle, displays no details at all. Right - Sygic MapMyIndia running on an iPhone 5, shows a 3D map even when idle]
Switch it on, and since it lacks a SIM card (thereby internet connectivity), the GPS takes a while to boot. It features a touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, good battery backup and the in-car charger comes with the box. By default, the TomTom unit displays the current location with a pointer while the Sygic MapMyIndia, shows a zoomed in 3D/2D map with details such as nearest fuel station, ATM, restaurant, with the additional option of navigating towards one.
[Left - TomTom VIA 125 guides the way to the destination. Right - Preferences of the location selected.]
Finding the destination is easy but typing the destination correctly takes repeated inputs. The GPS works flawlessly and guides you to your destination with no problems. You even get to choose between Fastest, Shortest or Easiest routes to your chosen destination. The 'Fastest' option will take you through wider roads which have lesser chance of a traffic jam. The 'Shortest' option explains itself and if you choose the 'Easiest' option, the GPS will prefer taking you through the Ring Roads or Highways.
[Left - Menu of TomTom VIA 125 (right) and MapMyIndia (left). Right - MapMyIndia (left) shows details of the searched locations whereas TomTom VIA 125 (right) displays just the list for you to guess which one to select.]
The interface is quite raw and lacks finesse. As an example (refer to image above), if you are looking for a nearby ATM, it will show you the list by name and their proximity whereas the Sygic Mapmyindia, goes a step beyond mentioning the address of each ATM. The advantage Sygic MapMyIndia holds here is that you can decide on an ATM nearest to you by recognizing the area of its location.
[Left - TomTom VIA 125 mic sensitivity bar. Right - TomTom VIA 125 Bluetooth call details.]
The Bluetooth handsfree feature is quite useable wherein connecting the phone is simple and quick. The quality of the mic and speaker is just average.
The battery backup of the device is good and lasts long enough for your daily commutes or short trips without additional support. For longer distances, the charger supplied along with it comes in handy. The screen is bright enough to be seen clearly even in broad daylight and the brightness adjusts accordingly at night.
[Left - Sygic MapMyIndia (left) and TomTom VIA 125 (right) showing location preferences. Right - Sygic MapMyIndia (left) and TomTom VIA 125 (right) guiding the way to the location.]
We compared the TomTom VIA 125 to its competitor Sygic Mapmyindia and found a couple of things TomTom should improve on :
- Using the screen, due to the lack of a pinch zoom, is a bit ambiguous.
- The touch input accuracy needs to be improved as GPS units are used on the go.
- Maps need to be updated with more details. Famous landmarks like schools or apartments rarely showed up in the (Delhi) NCR region. So, at times, your out-of-city destination might not feature on the search list.
Note - We used the Sygic MapMyIndia installed on iPhone 5 to compare software differences only.