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TomTom Via 135 review

Is this the right time for voice-controlled sat navs?

Our Verdict

For

  • Great map technology
  • Clear voice navigation
  • Compact unit and mount

Against

  • Inconsistent voice recognition
  • Hardly hands-free
  • Only covers UK and Ireland

While the idea of using voice commands to navigate your way around the country is a neat one, the reality still has a surprisingly long way to go. At times the TomTom Via 135 works well, but it's amazing how quickly not being understood can frustrate.

We liked

The compact design of the TomTom Via 135 works well. It's easy to fold up and slip into your pocket, yet is solid in use and adheres to the windscreen well.

The route finding is accurate, and the predicted arrival times are up to TomTom's usual excellent standard. The audio navigation is clear and precise, with spoken street names and the ability to change voices if you're annoyed by the default offering.

We disliked

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Having to press a (quite small) button to use the voice navigation means that you'll need to take at least one hand off the wheel and use your eyes in order to enjoy this hands-free navigation.

To make yourself understood you'll have to talk in a stilted manner, undermining the concept of voice recognition - it's often quicker to simply enter your destination by hand.

The maps cover just the UK and Ireland, which means that from a pure value perspective, this £149.99 (around $230) sat nav isn't the best option out there, or even the best option from TomTom - the TomTom Start 60 Europe doesn't cost much more, and covers Europe, too.

Final verdict

While TomTom should be applauded for trying to get voice recognition out there and in cars, the Via 135 doesn't feel like it's at a stage where it's ready for mass consumption just yet.

There are moments where it works perfectly, but there are plenty of times where the sensitive microphone picks up background noise or the sat nav just fails to understand you. It's all too easy to resort to touch input, making other more affordable options look like better buys.

Having used the TomTom Start 60, with its larger screen, we'd still rather spend our money there, especially given the European maps offered by that device.

Tech Specs

Product TypeAutomobile Portable GPS Navigator
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Product FamilyVIA
Navigation InstructionsVoice Command, Lane Assist, Voice Prompt, Text-to-Speech, Parking Assist, Speed Assist
Brand NameTomTom
Screen Size12.7 cm (5")
Built-in DevicesSpeaker
Graphic ModeWQVGA
Maximum Battery Run Time2 Hour
USBYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD Card
Height95 mm
Width119 mm
Depth22 mm
ColourBlack
FeaturesBluetooth Hands-free, Economical Route, Speed Camera Detector, Emergency Help, Route Calculation
Form FactorMountable
ManufacturerTomTom International BV
Product Model135 M
Product NameVia 135 M Europe
Product LineVIA
Manufacturer Part Number1EQ5.002.11
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.tomtom.com
Marketing Information

At the Heart of the Journey

TomTom is the world's leading supplier of in-car location and navigation products and services focused on providing the world's best navigation experience. Our products include portable navigation devices, smartphone apps, GPS sports watches, in-dash infotainment systems, fleet management solutions, maps and real-time services, including the award winning TomTom HD Traffic.

Package Contents
  • Via 135 M Europe
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Documentation
  • Integrated Mount
  • USB Car Charger
Weight (Approximate)181 g