We live in an era of convergence. All devices for which there existed a market, however niche, is now being replaced by the smartphone. The GPS-based navigation system falls firmly within this category. We were certain that for the TomTom VIA 125 to win our recommendation, it would have to beat Google Maps.
The first comparison involved taking this author from the workplace to the house. While there are three different routes, only one avoids the ring road, is traffic-free and shortens the commute. Though Google Maps and TomTom both suggested similar routes, Google’s simpler interface and options to avoid highways zeroed in on the most desired route.
One feature that is lacking in both of them was the ability to ‘learn’ routes that had been preferred time and again and correlating traffic data with time of travel to ‘suggest’ best routes.
One of the biggest advantages TomTom has over Google is former’s single-point focus on navigation products. This is evident in the difference in spoken directions between Google Maps and TomTom’s VIA 125.
The VIA 125 speaks out even the smallest details about the route to take, including nuggets like “Go ahead 200 metres and stay on the right lane. Then turn right” which are worth their weight in gold to the lost. This is missing from Google Maps which usually stops at “Go ahead for 300 metres” and waits for you to get there before talking further.
TomTom has also programmed the device to read out the distance to the nearest and next-nearest petrol pump and ATM, which is a cool feature to have. The alarm bells sound on exceeding the speed limit. The VIA 125 wastes no time in rerouting on taking a wrong turn.
TomTom offers a wide range of voices to choose from, including Indian voices, which makes the names of roads and streets easy to understand even when driving through traffic. Google uses an American voice that garbles any Indian sounding name beyond recognition.
The device sticks to the windshield with the help of suction. Battery life is a cause for complaint. It ran out of battery after less than an hour of total operation. The lack of any warning sounds before the battery runs out is troubling as it suddenly shuts off.
Maps are currently updated every quarter and TomTom claims coverage of over 5,800 cities and towns across India with 5.8 million points of interest.
Despite the smartphone’s recent successes and forays into this market, this device is still handy and useful to have around.
Priced at Rs 15,999, the TomTom VIA 125 with free lifetime update of maps is a good buy.