Product review: Tom Tom Navigation Device VIA 125

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In-car GPS devices are increasingly becoming the norm of the day. While there weren’t many players in the Indian auto market till recently, a lot of global GPS Navigation giants are lining up at our doors with the consumer maturing up to the idea of hassle-free, data independent navigation systems. TomTom is known the world over for its GPS navigation devices. The Dutch manufacturer of navigation systems is a leader in Europe, and is now increasing its presence in India.

We recently managed to lay our hands on the top of the line VIA125 GPS navigation system from the company, with India specific maps. While we are no tech wizards at Motoroids, we still used the system for a few days to have an opinion about the quality, ease of use and features of the device. Here’s a brief log of our observations.

Design and build

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The system comprises of a display unit, with a vacuum based mounting system at the back. An in-car battery charging system is also provided with the system to make sure that you never run out of power during long journeys. Being a touch screen device, the need for having physical buttons on the body is eliminated.

There is a simple to operate power on-off button at the back, and a mini USB-in for charging while on the move. The unit is quite lightweight and well built with no rough edges or unfinished surfaces.

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The mounting system is simple to use too and works well. Once forced against the windscreen, and wound at the locking dial, the unit stays in place even when you’re driving over rough roads.

On turning the device on, the screen looks rather lackluster when compared with the modern smart phone screens which look brighter and more tightly packed with pixels. The pixels on the device (480×272) are clearly visible, but overall, the screen is bright enough and all the details are very legible. No issues as regards readability there. We weren’t too fond of the resistive touch interface though, which, in our honest opinion could have been more responsive.

TomTom Via 125 GPS India review

Functions and features

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The TomTom VIA125 offers a whole world of touch enabled menus which allow you to fine tune your search for destinations. To start with, the device comes with detailed maps. While TomTom are relatively new to the Indian market, it’s quite evident that they have done their homework before coming out with their products. While traversing various routes in Mumbai, the names of most of the streets were displayed correctly, and hardly any streets were omitted. You also get free map updates for the lifetime of the product, four times a year.

A list of the TomTom VIA125 features is provided below

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  • Landmark Navigation to find the destination, by searching for nearest landmarks like parks, hospitals etc.
  • Advanced Lane Guidance shows which lane to take at complex junctions with realistic 3D representation.
  • Map Correction lets you make corrections to your device, making your next route planning easier and faster.
  • Hands-free calling via Bluetooth for calling and accessing phone book and call log information.
  • Voice Controls & Commands allowing you to use your voice to plan your route & give commands to your device.
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Dual Mounting Option for windscreen or dashboard.
  • Lets you customize the navigational arrow in your device with a car symbol of your choice like a Blue Bug, Black Cabrio, Ferrari etc.
  • Help Me! Emergency Services Menu helps you find local emergency service information like hospitals, police stations, petrol stations to roadside assistance.
  • Voice Guidance & Regional Language Support helps you get turn-by-turn directions to keep your eyes on the road with instructions in Hindi, English and 14 regional languages.
  • Re-routing for quickly detecting a wrong turn and automatically providing a new route.

Experience

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We found the user interface of the GPS device quite intuitive. Simple choices expand into more detailed menus, making it easier to locate the service you are looking for.

To start with, you can choose where you want to navigate to. You choice may include

  • A point on map
  • Latitude / Longitude
  • The position of your last stop
  • A Point of Interest (Airport, restaurant, Metro station etc) near your current location, in a specific locality, near your Home location, on the way to your destination, or near the destination itself

Now, while we liked the segmentation of the entire map into smaller sections, it can spell a bit of a trouble sometimes. You have to choose a specific location to search for destinations within that specific area, especially if it is not marked as a Point of Interest. We would have liked to have a general search area where looking up for an address or street name would have suggested all the possible destinations, and allowed the user to choose one. Navigating into localities and sub-localities becomes a bit of an issue sometimes.

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Apart from that minor glitch, the system works wonderfully well. It positions the car on the road extremely well, is really correct with its lane and landmark markings and the turn by turn navigation helps you keep your attention on the road.

There are hundreds to settings to choose from. You can choose the guidance voice, the language, routing algorithm (shortest, quickest, the most eco friendly and the one that helps you avoid highways) or battery saving settings.

In addition, you can choose night settings for better visibility, change map colors, see your route in 2D or 3D, manage your Point of Interests, correct your maps, choose your favorite points, customize your startup screen, alter settings for left-handed or right handed use, change units, update maps and a do a lot more with the system.

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As we mentioned earlier, we would have liked the touch system to be a bit more responsive, but since with such systems you mostly have to feed in data only once when you start off, it’s not too difficult to live with.

With its latest map update, the coverage for the system now expands to more than 7200+ cities and towns across India. This would help the consumers navigate to pretty much all the populated parts of the country. Some more features have been added to the system after we got it for a test.

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The TomTom VIA125 offers a 480×272 pixel 5 inch resistive touch display. It weighs 213 grams and has 4 GB of internal memory. At Rs 15,999 it may look a little expensive for the first time users, but it offers great features and an ability to navigate without data connectivity, unlike cellphones. The turn-by-turn navigation and customization features are also very advanced on the system.

Also, if you think that the aforementioned price is above your budget, you have the option of choosing from the VIA100 and VIA120 models which retail for Rs 9990 and Rs 12999 respectively, with lesser features but having most of the functions that matter.

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All in all, we believe that the TomTom VIA125 is a very strong navigation system for a new entrant in the market. Sure, there are some edges to be smoothened out, but with a player like TomTom, it won’t take long before these issues are sorted. The company is issuing updates at a rapid pace, and for all we know, some of the issues we mentioned may already have been sorted out. Free maps for life means you’ll get all the important updates to make the device even more useful as time passes by.

We would give the VIA 125 a rating of 3.5 over 5 based on our experience.

TomTom VIA125 GPS navigation Device Image gallery

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  • I would agree in principle with you. Modern Smartphones with map apps have crippled the GPS Navigation industry. Offline navigation and turn-by-turn guidance on smartphone based apps have made life even more difficult. The market isn’t dead though, and such devices are still relevant for some people, due to the following reasons.
    1. Not all people use phones with big screens. Some users still prefer hard keyboard to touchscreen, and the size of their phones’ screen does not allow for easy readability of maps
    2. Using a phone as a navigation device means that you have to mount it on the windscreen or dashboard, making it unusable for making or receiving calls. Not that one should make or receive calls while driving, but even with hands-free enabled, your navigation screen goes off for the duration of the call. Additionally, your co-passenger may come handy responding to calls and emails if you’re driving. But the device needs to be free for that to happen
    3. Some people like Navigation systems for hassle-free data independent navigation, unlike smartphone based apps which require you to keep downloading maps for offline access into every new area.
    4. Having a separate power source also helps, as smartphones today don’t perform very well in terms of battery life
    5. Finally, from experience I know that once you go off the limits of metros and tier II cities, the data connectivity in this part of the world is terrible. And you cannot plan in advance if you’re an explorer. In that case, if you venture out of your planned route, you’d be stuck with no means to download new data for offline access. You don’t have to bother about such things with a proper sat-nav device. The rugged varieties of these devices consume far less battery than a smartphone, are weather proof in some cases and can be a good companion once you step out of the car and go trekking as well

  • Thilak Raj says:

    Why would anyone need additional GPS device when much of 10k+ smart phones serve the purpose very well! Its a dead market! I am surprised that Auto blogs still review this kind of stuff!