TomTom's GO 910 is one of the best sat-nav systems around, but its high price and vast feature list aren't for everyone, especially if you're new to the GPS scene. With that in mind, the company is going back to basics with its TomTom One. The One does navigation, and that's about it.
It's perfect for first-time buyers or drivers who just need a simple solution for getting from A to B. Our only wish is a cheaper price. Don't get us wrong: at around £230, it's certainly one of the more affordable portable navigation systems on the market, but it faces some stiff competition. Still, if you're looking for your first in-car GPS device or a no-frills sat-nav system, the TomTom One fits the bill.
The TomTom One features a super sleek design, measuring a compact 97mm by 81mm by 25mm and weighing 173g. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, the only external control on the device is the power button on top. A tiny LED next to it lights up when you're charging the internal battery. All other commands are entered via the One's 89mm (3.5-inch) touchscreen. It displays 64,000 colours at a 320x240-pixel resolution.
On the bottom of the unit, you'll find an SD card slot and a mini USB port, while the speaker is located on the back. In addition, there's a port for connecting an external antenna for enhanced reception. The TomTom One's GPS receiver is built into the device, so you don't have to worry about flipping up any antennas as you have to with some systems.
Below the speaker are two grooves where you can attach the included windshield mount. The apparatus is easy to slide on and holds the unit firmly in place. The suction cup mount is also quite strong. TomTom packages the One with a car charger, a USB cable (which you can also use to charge the device) and an SD card preloaded with maps and reference material.
As we just mentioned, maps of Western Europe are preloaded on the SD card, so to get started, simply insert it into the TomTom One's expansion slot -- there's no need to transfer maps from your computer.
You will, however, have to go through a process of entering product and device codes to get the maps activated (have these numbers and a pencil and notepad handy), as well as answer a few questions about your map and system preferences -- for example, whether you want distance displayed in miles or kilometres and voice selection for audible prompts. All in all, it takes about five minutes.
To start navigating, just tap the Navigate To icon, and you can enter a specific street address, a junction, a city centre or a point of interest (POI). Once you've entered an address, the One will ask you if you need to arrive at a particular time.
If you tap Yes, enter an arrival time and the system can calculate if you will arrive on time based on your current location. The One has the ability to calculate directions by fastest route, shortest route or avoiding motorways.
There's a Find Alternative function if you're not a fan of the prescribed route or you run into some traffic along the way. For example, you can have the One recalculate the route altogether, or if you run into roadworks, it will plot a course around them.
You have the option of viewing maps in 2D or 3D view. There's also a night mode that changes the colour of the maps for better night-time viewing. You can choose to have driving directions presented as text or images. For the highly organised, you can even get a running demo of your route before you hit the road.
The main driving view will give your current position, the name of the next major road, the next instruction, information about your trip and signal strength. In addition, you can zoom in and out of maps, using the plus and minus signs in the upper left- and right-hand corners of the screen.
Of course, in addition to the visual prompts, you get spoken, turn-by-turn directions, and you can choose different voices if you don't like the default. Unfortunately, the One does not support text-to-speech functionality, which speaks the actual street names rather than generic directions.
As you become more accustomed to the One and to navigation systems in general, there is an option to add TomTom's Plus services, including real-time traffic information and speed camera warnings. Just be aware that there is a subscription fee, and you will need a Bluetooth-enabled, GPRS phone to connect to the service.
From a cold start, the unit's SiRF StarIII receiver quickly locked on to a signal in about a minute. Some systems can take up to five minutes or more to acquire a satellite fix, so we were impressed with the One's performance.
The One accurately pinpointed our position as we drove around familiar streets. We also entered the address of a friend's place and the One got us there with no problem. The voice prompts were loud and clear, and the unit also has a function where it will automatically increase the volume the faster you go, based on the assumption there's more road noise in the car -- a nice touch.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield