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What I Wish I'd Known Before I Bought This: It's Still In Beta,
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This review is from: TomTom VIA 1505TM 5-Inch GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps(Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I just got my Tomtom VIA 1505TM yesterday, and having just got off the phone with the (easy to reach & very friendly & helpful) customer service here is what I wish I'd known before I bough this: it's still in Beta and isn't supported by a lot of Tomtom's infrastructure yet. For example, as of today (April 5th 2011) you aren't going to find it on most of the drop down menus on Tomtom's website or as an option on the phone menu when you call customer service. More seriously, it can't connect to Tomtom Home which is the software that allows you to do the fun things Tomtom offer like downloading voices or other doodads to your device. I was really looking forward to customizing my GPS with various voices and I'm sad I can't do that. I am assured that over the course of this year Tomtom will send updates to the VIA GPSes that will eventually allow them to join the party but for now there is very little support for this product. I think it's kind of weird to release a beta that has less functionality than the models it supersedes without clearly warning potential purchasers so I'm writing this review today. I also can't buy a carry case sized just to fit my VIA - which is a different shape to previous models because it attaches to my car using a different system. I'm told its a better system but since this is my first GPS I wouldn't know.
Hopefully by the end of the year (as I said, I'm writing this on April 5th 2011) this review will be obsolete but right now, if you purchase this GPS today, you will not be getting a fully supported device. I'm not happy at having been lured into Beta testing Tomtom's new product line, this is my first GPS and I paid $200 for it, I wanted a great experience right out of the box. As it is I'm just feeling a bit sad about the whole thing, and even the charming customer service hasn't made that go away.
The thing is, this is a really nice piece of engineering. It is super easy to set up and use. It works in a fundamentally different way to previous Tomtoms, and you can use it while it is plugged into your computer. A friend of mine has an earlier Tomtom and I know she gets frustrated at not being able to access her Tomtom while it is attached to her computer so that is a definite plus. I'm not complaining about the device itself, it is very cool. I'm told that this model is the future of Tomtom, and that in time it will do everything the other models do and more, but the fact is that it doesn't do that now, today, April 5th 2011.
So. Early adopters and devoted beta testers rejoice! This is definitely the Tomtom for you. Buy one and enjoy yourselves. But those of you who, like me, just want to get where you are going with a bit of fun along the way, and the least amount of hassle, might want to pick something else.
Update, June 17th 2011: After using this device for a few months, I still feel that anyone looking for a drama-free GPS should go and buy something else. The TomTom VIA series is still a rich source of drama - it isn't compatible with TomTom Home, and the MyTomTom software it *is* compatible with is just AWFUL and hugely frustrating. I've owned this thing for months and tonight was the first time I have ever successfully managed to update it, and that has taken me two hours and much nailbiting (At one point it managed to wipe itself clean of all maps & I had to completely reinstall everything. Fun.) On the other hand, it does seem to have finally installed the extra voice I bought for it the day I got it, (before I knew that it didn't at that time support adding extra voices) so it will be interesting to see how that will work out. And the TomTom website does now acknowledge the existence of the VIA models, though it still doesn't offer much for them. Progress is being made by TomTom to bring the VIA series out into the general community of TomTom products but this is very much still a beta device and I do still wish I'd bought a different GPS system.
On the other hand it is a nifty little thing, and I do enjoy using it. It has a completely intuitive interface, and it gives excellent directions both spoken and on the screen. It recalculates directions incredibly fast. It sticks on my windscreen very well. The traffic feature is excellent, and has helped me stay out of many traffic jams, though sometimes the traffic feature just won't load, which is a shame. As many other people have pointed out it *does* take quite a few minutes for the device to locate the satellites (I had thought this was just because I live out in the sticks, in the middle of a forest with no cell phone reception even, but if other people are having a problem it must be something to do with the unit.) All in all, I've enjoyed using it, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd bought something that was a fully functioning product and not just a poorly supported beta.
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Apr 7, 2014 8:05:36 AM PDT
Thank you for the highly detailed review. At TomTom, these reviews provide incredibly useful feedback to our internal teams, and to other Amazon.com consumers seeking information on navigation.
As we launch new product lines, we look to engage users of our devices in a more direct conversation to help drive future product innovation and improvements. Based on your comprehensive review, we'd like to invite you to participate in this initiative. If you're interested in learning more, please email us at email@example.com - so we can share more details. We look forward to your response!
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 15, 2011 6:56:55 AM PDT
G. Pierce says:
You say this is your first GPS? Yet you have said nothing about actually using the unit. Have you tried programming a destination and driving to it or do you only intend to access it while hooked into you computer?
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2011 2:59:52 PM PDT
Well heres one thing from driving with it. You will be nearly 3 miles or 5 minutes down the road before it locks a GPS signal. Terrible.
Posted on Apr 17, 2011 2:09:47 PM PDT
Patrick R. says:
I'm surprised you gave it 4/5 stars with such an important issue as the product not offering the features advertised on Amazon or on the TomTom site. It doesn't support QuickGPSFix, voice downloads, map sharing, traffic cam updates, or backups/restores.
You also didn't mention how it performed for you -- is it working effectively? Is it sluggish to lock GPS signals? Is the interface responsive? I'd honestly like to hear your feedback, and if you'd still give it 4/5 stars two weeks later.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2011 3:00:40 PM PDT
For me the performance is ok.
It's gets traffic info quickly but locks gps signal unacceptably slow - almost 3 miles or up to 5 minutes gone before it gets a signal lock. Granted if you were stopped may get it quicker - but that reduces it to about maybe 3 minutes and I ain't gonna hang around waiting for it.
The interface can be sluggish and there is a slight delay after you click a button - and there is no sounds or this so you find yourself going to try to press it again and it then performs the action just before you try again.
But after these issues the driving along performance is fine. Just the standard 3D zoom is far too close and is not adjustable. The map interface looks awful with lots of pixelation visible against the smooth graphics of the status bar. This needs a bit update.
But as you say lots of advertised feature not available and word for tomtom if and when they will be available
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2011 9:28:42 PM PDT
Mrs. Johanna Smithson says:
I turn my TT on when I am about to leave the house and it has always found the signal by the time I am in the car and have plugged it into the cigarette lighter adapter.
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2011 10:04:40 PM PDT
Good for you!
So we have to take it out of the car with us everywhere we go! Yeah right.
And in walking to your car take a trip outside for a while and then into the carpark.
Anyway, takes far far too long to get a gps signal compared to most other devices.
Posted on Jun 16, 2011 9:39:39 AM PDT
S. Kay Murphy says:
Really great review! Thank you!
Posted on Jun 16, 2011 9:57:40 AM PDT
B. Kiser says:
Good review. I do have a question, though. I have owned 3 Tomtoms, and although they all little issues, I keep coming back to them because I love the user interface and extra driving information that it gives. You say this one "works in a fundamentally different way to previous Tomtoms". How is it different?
Posted on Jun 17, 2011 8:12:01 AM PDT
Glad I read this before purchasing; I have a previous version in a box and don't need another new one in a box. You saved me.
I'll look around some more.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2011 4:00:51 PM PDT
As far as I understand it was built using a different file system - I'm not too clear on the details, but that seems to be the reason why it isn't compatible with the rest of the TomTom infrastructure. The user experience isn't different except that it can be massively frustrating to update the unit and you can operate the unit while it is connected to your computer. As long as the "update" hasn't wiped all the maps from your device that is - that just happened to me this evening, luckily I was able to do a subsequent (hour long) update that restored maps to my device. Months after writing this initial review my feeling still is that it's a nifty little device, but brings way too much drama into my life. I don't want a hard-to-update GPS. When it works it is really nice though, intuitive and precise.