Review: TomTom One GPS Navigation system

So I’ve had the TomTom One GPS unit (link is for the latest version – mine is the original one) for a while now. I bought it technically for getting around to and from weddings. I was worried when I first got it because it used the European mapping information, rather than the US-based one that, for instance, Google utilizes.

Now, we all know that GPS units are getting more and more common as built-in systems in cars. However, if you look at costs, it makes a lot of sense to get a system separately. You can get a great system for $250-$500, depending on the features you want. Or you can spend $2000 on an integrated system for your car. I know that a system built into the audio system, etc is nice, but I also like setting everything up in my home before leaving, even for a multi-point trip, then having it ready. Something to think about.

There are a lot of things I like about the TomTom One, many of which have been taken out of the 3rd edition which really bothers me. Overall, if you’re looking for a solid, easy to use, easy to configure GPS unit that is very affordable (~$200), the One is a good deal. I am getting a more expensive (~$450) Garmin soon and will compare the two eventually. See more for the details.

There are a number of key features I like about the TomTom One. Some of these have changed and I’ll mention the ones I’m aware of. So this is the good part.

First, entering destination is pretty easy. It remember what state you’re in, so you just hit a few buttons:

  • Touch the screen (anywhere)
  • “Navigate to”
  • Street or Intersection (terminology might be a bit off here – unit is not in front of me)

Then you enter the city with a very accurate keyboard, then street, then number. The unit predicts the city as you type and often you can select the city before you’ve typed the whole thing out. I have tried out a few units from various brands that don’t predict.

I believe that now it’s city>number>street or some other combination.

The form factor is pretty good. I agree with other reviews (such as at gpsreviews.net ) and wish they just went with a more square shape rather than the curved back, but it’s fine. The big power button on top is nice and the lack of buttons on the bottom means you don’t have to get under there much.

You can set multiple destinations for a trip with lots of stops, it has a number of voices (including a few you get for free – I have Dennis Hopper and Burt Reynolds on mine, though I use one of the regular, built-in ones), and the screen is nice and bright. It also offers a night-mode for better lighting at night, and holds well when going through tunnels. The display is really solid – very easy to read, and to tell what road you’re on, what you’re going for (but only when you’re close, which reduces clutter), and how long to get there along with estimated time of arrival. I can zoom in and out very quickly if I’m at a stop light to get an idea of how many blocks I have to go, and I can turn the volume up and down with just two taps.

The multi-destination option is gone in the 3rd edition. You cannot set 5 waypoints, essentially, as part of a single trip.

The unit does not do text-to-speech. It tells you to turn left, but not to ‘turn left on Main Street.’ For me, this is fine – I’m not really looking at street signs by the time it tells me to turn left – I’ve already looked at the screen and identified destination street, current street, and probably the preceding street. That’s all I need by the time it tells me to turn.

GPS signal acquisition is pretty good though not super fast at times. Turning it off is nice and fast which is good since you want to stow it away quickly. Re-routing is very quick and responsive.

The maps are pretty darn accurate so far. In one place, a new ramp wasn’t on there and still isn’t. In another, a road that didn’t even exist on Google Maps showed up on the map just fine so that was surprising.

The mount is nice and flexible, and the actual connection is a good shape with a really solid feel to it. Once you get it on the mount, it’s staying there.

There are some problems, too, of course.

It takes a while to turn on. I wish that it responded a bit more quickly than that. The mount is solid, but it won’t stick to my windshield anymore. Of course, I recently discovered that CA doesn’t allow windshield-mounted GPS units so I just went to a vent mount (via mountguys ) and that’s great now.

If text-to-speech matters, then the lack of it as even an option is a problem. It is not for me.

The POI’s are a bit lacking. Other than gas stations and hospitals (I show only the former), the only fun ones I can get from TomTom are locations for Dunkin’ Donuts. I wouldn’t mind some more fun ones, or even Starbucks (though I can’t imagine how many icons there would be on the screen’).

That’s really about it. I just like the system. The timing on when it informs me of a turns and etc. is perfect for me, and I can almost always tell when to turn, even if it’s a small turn. The screen is nice and bright.

For $250, which is what I paid at the time, that’s pretty nice.

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