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Customer Review

The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
626 of 655 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent price makes up for some inadequacies, April 26, 2011
This review is from: TomTom VIA 1505 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife has been harping me for a GPS in her car for some time. After a recent stint in a loaner car equipped with a factory GPS, I began searching in earnest for a good GPS to fill the need. I originally was looking at the Garmin Nuvi line but some of reviews commented on "commercials" appearing when the driver is stopped and I was totally unwilling to pay top dollar for a GPS just for the privilege of staring at advertisements. When I saw the new GO and VIA lines from TomTom I decided to take a closer look.

I ended up picking up both a GO2535TM and a VIA1505. The GO model is more of a "top of the line" model compared to the mid-grade VIA1505. I'll talk about some of the differences below but first let me give a brief summary of my findings with the 1505:

Pros:
Very affordable.
Very fast re-routing.
Very large screen.
Very thin/svelte.
Really helpful intersection detail screens pop up when going through a route.
No problem with polarized sunglasses.

Cons:
Screen washes out badly in the Texas sun.
Battery life is less than 90 minutes.
Suction cup mount is permanently attached.
Speed limit data is often inaccurate.
User interface is kind of slow.
MyTomTom service requires user registration and is kind of klunky.
Very slow acquisition of GPS signal (> 90 seconds)

FORM FACTOR
The VIA1505 is a very svelte GPS with a large screen. It's so thin and light (with such a big screen) that you can't help but recognize it features the very latest technologies. The price of the VIA1505 is low enough that I am willing to forgive many of the flaws I'm about to describe.

MYTOMTOM SOFTWARE
The first thing I will comment about is the MyTomTom application that one uses to perform all firmware and map updates. TomTom is kind enough to provide an initial free map update for the VIA1505 through the MyTomTom application. I installed the MyTomTom app on both a Macintosh and a Windows 7 system. The UI was similar on both computers and I didn't detect any difference in the quality or features. The application had an annoying tendancy to keep launching even though I had changed the setting to tell it not to launch each time I turned on my computer. That is the first of many bugs.

I initially activated my TomTom GO2535TM. This went smoothly however it did not find any map updates. I then tried to add the VIA1505 to my account but I received a very cryptic error "something has gone wrong". I'm serious, that was the error message. I googled but could not find anything. I tried about a dozen times and continued to get this error. I tried on both the Mac and Windows and continued to get the error. Finally I thought "maybe I need to create a separate login on MyTomTom for the second GPS?". Upon creating a second login on the TomTom website, the VIA1505 linked without error and proceeded to download firmware and map updates. Of course, this leads me to wonder why my GO2535TM is not seeing map updates!

Over the first 6 months of ownership, the MyTomTom software was updated several times and now works fine. I still don't like the design that requires it to work from a web browser with a special login account on tomtom.com. Why can't their update process simply take the serial number of my device, and deliver the appropriate updates to me?

SCREEN
I took the GPS out to my car to go for a spin. I was immediately pleased to see that my polarized sunglasses did not interfere with screen visibility. Unfortunately, when I stepped outside of my house, the Texas sun so badly washed out the display that I thought something was wrong. I stepped into my dark garage and suddenly the screen was clearly visible again. I went into the settings to make sure there weren't any power saving options or screen brightness settings that needing adjustment- there were not.

Once I mounted the GPS in my car and started driving around, I continued to find the screen (on battery power) to be barely visible. On a hunch, I plugged in the (included) 12volt adapter cord and suddenly the screen became noticeably brighter. It still wasn't great, but it was at least visible even in the bright sunlight. I later learned that the battery life on this unit is so bad that I have to leave it plugged in all the time anyway.

VEHICLE MOUNT
The suction cup mount for this unit is permanently affixed to the GPS screen. This means you have to re-stick it to your windshield each time you get in your car. This unit is inexpensive enough that you might be tempted to leave it mounted in the car all the time but I talk to SO many people that have had their car broken into for GPS units- it seems like it's not worth the risk of broken windows/doorlocks to leave it mounted. Because of the design, unmounting and mounting each time is definitely a lot harder than you'd expect. My GO2535TM has a magnetic removable mount that is much nicer.

USER INTERFACE
I entered a few destinations using the built in search feature. It was reasonably easy to find restaurants and other points of interest near my house. I was a bit perplexed by how slow the interface was- when I pushed a key on the virtual keyboard there was usually a noticeable delay. The delay was so long that sometimes I ended up pushing the same key multiple times before the letter showed up on the screen. This took some getting used to and seems like it could be fixed with better tuned firmware in the future. I'm crossing my fingers!

BATTERY
With a full charge, I've been getting less than 90 minutes of battery life. I haven't actually used the unit until the battery totally expires but I have seen the low battery warning come on well before the 90 minute mark. This is a bit annoying as it means you realistically have to leave it plugged in most of the time. Due to the screen brightness issue, I'm having to leave it plugged in anyway.

GPS SIGNAL ACQUISITION
The first time I left my house, I was puzzled because the GPS wasn't showing any movement. I drove out of my neighborhood and to a nearby stoplight. This is about a 90 second drive. During this time the GPS said it was "acquiring GPS signal". Finally, while sitting at the stoplight, the GPS updated and correctly showed my location for the remainder of my drive. This initial acquisition was a lot slower than I expected. Sometimes when I'm downtown at a baseball game I want to quickly figure out how to get home. If I have to wait 90 seconds to get a GPS signal, I'll be driving blind for quite some time before I get any guidance as to which one-way street is going to take me to the desired interstate. If I sit in my car for 90 seconds, tons of fans pour into the streets and cause endless backups. I'm pretty disappointed with this and am hoping it improves with firmware updates.

SPEED LIMIT DISPLAY
One feature of the VIA1505 is that it displays posted speed limits on major roads. Unfortunately, I estimate that 25% of the speed limits in the VIA1505 are inaccurate. In many cases the posted speeds are slower than what the GPS displays. This is a recipe for a speeding ticket! In the end, I find that I can't trust and have to ignore these speed limits. I wish there was a way to hide them altogether since they can't be depended on. Both my VIA1505 and GO2535TM have this issue so it seems to be something in TomTom's data feed.

POINTS OF INTEREST
I configured my VIA1505 to display restaurants and gas stations along my route. I found that it was a bit spotty. There were several gas stations (Citgo, Valero and even some Shell stations) that I drove by that did not appear on my map. Several Chevrons did show up. Likewise with restaurants, the TomTom was missing a Burger King, Jack in the Box and Chick-fil-a however it showed me several McDonalds and Sonics. I did not notice any "small" restaurants showing up on the GPS. Good luck finding a hole-in-the-wall gem with the TomTom. I'm not surprised or disappointed by that- just reporting the facts.

NAVIGATION GUIDES
Where this unit really shines is in the most basic feature of taking you to a destination. First, I love the custom intersection and highway exit screens that come up to tell you which direction each lane can go. At one point I was on a 7-lane stretch of freeway and the TomTom dutifully drew all 7 lanes with arrows showing where they were headed (veering right, going straight, etc...). Very cool and very confidence inspiring! I love this feature.

REROUTING
Also, this unit is very fast at recalculating routes. Even on a 60 minute drive, any slight change in my route resulted in a reroute in just a matter of seconds. I've read other GPS units taking 60-90 seconds to calculate a new route. Clearly this is not an issue for the VIA1505. My wife also commented on how quickly the unit rerouted when she altered her route. This is a very important feature and one at which the VIA1505 excels.

IQ ROUTES
Another feature that seems to work as advertised is the "IQ Routes" that allow the VIA1505 to route you around predicted traffic jams. If I leave work at lunch time, it will take me home via one route. If I leave at 5:30, it takes me another route that completely bypasses a huge backup with the first route. This is a great feature to have given that this product does not have any traffic updates.

SUMMARY
All told, I love my GO2535TM and am fairly neutral on the VIA1505. The lousy screen and lousy mounting options really detract from this otherwise fine product. For 70% more (about $100), the TomTom GO2535TM has a beautiful glass screen that shines brightly and a nifty magnetic mount that allows for easy snap-in/out. If the VIA1505 wasn't so cheap, I'd probably return it for another GO2535TM. As it is, it's just cheap and good enough that it will likely earn a permanent spot in my car.

If any meaningful updates occur, I'll modify my review.
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The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Feb 22, 2012 12:50:35 AM PST
Thank you for your review. We will pass your feedback to the relevant team at TomTom. Just to let you know, MyTomTom functionality has been significantly updated since you posted your review with features such as:

* Voice downloads - You can now download free TomTom navigation voices, TomTom premium voices, and community-generated voices onto your device.
* Transfer Favorites - Your Favorite destinations are automatically transferred to an updated map with MyTomTom.
* Add POIs - You can add 3rd party Points of Interest to your navigation device.
* New maps - Purchase and install new, updated maps.

Here is a list of all the features that have been added: http://bit.ly/wfJGBv.

Thank you again for taking the time to review our products.
 
 
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 24, 2011 9:49:38 AM PDT
Thank You Mr. York. You just told me a lot of things I would hate about this unit. And for $170.00 plus dollars I would have spent on this unit I would definitely have had major buyers remorse. I will look at the XXL 550TM and see if it looks better. The price is OK but apparently the product doesn't match the price. Tomtom should be ashamed of itself for this unit. Ron

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 12, 2011 11:11:10 AM PDT
BTM says:
One thing about the XXL550 is that I think most of the models come with the two button easy menu. Which I loathe. I was lucky enough to get a great deal on a 550 with the older standard menu off of Craigslist. And unlucky enough to have it stolen. I'm now looking at a 540. They are getting cheaper.

Posted on Sep 26, 2011 7:38:17 AM PDT
DocNash says:
Over the years, I've used several TomTom units in a number of cars. I'd given up on suction mounting on the windshield and other places because of failure to hold at critical times. Air vent mounts have proved reliable in the past, but in my primary car (a Toyota Avalon), the TomTom VIA 1535TM I purchased sits too low and is partially obscured by the steering wheel.

The integral suction attachment need not restrict your mounting options. And the fact that the display will be properly oriented whether the cup is facing upward or down gives the choice of two options that can be employed with or without the weighted "bean bag" I unnecessarily bought that sits on top of the dash assembly.

The primary factor here is that any good adhesive will stick to the silicone suction cup. I considered first flexible "rubber" magnets with a sticky backing; they adhere to the silicone and will attach to any ferrous surface and/or to other pieces of the magnetic material. In the latter case, orientation can be a minor problem. This worked for me to a point, but in this car, I was unable to find a seat position that was optimal in regard to comfort and the simultaneous views of both the navigation unit and the road. I've used this approach in a few other cars owned by friends, and in most it has been successful.

In my car, the top of the dashboard is high and it overhangs a recessed instrument cluster. Foregoing the magnet approach, I attached Velcro to the suction cup and all along the bottom of the overhang. I am able to mount the TomTom anywhere along the overhang with the cup facing upwards. The attachment is firm, and the silicone cup acts as a flexible shock absorber on rough roads.

I intended to insert a graphic, but my browser, Firefox, will not accept it. If Amazon can arrange it, I'll be glad to post again.

A comment by the manufacturer   (What's this?)
Posted on Feb 22, 2012 12:50:35 AM PST
Thank you for your review. We will pass your feedback to the relevant team at TomTom. Just to let you know, MyTomTom functionality has been significantly updated since you posted your review with features such as:

* Voice downloads - You can now download free TomTom navigation voices, TomTom premium voices, and community-generated voices onto your device.
* Transfer Favorites - Your Favorite destinations are automatically transferred to an updated map with MyTomTom.
* Add POIs - You can add 3rd party Points of Interest to your navigation device.
* New maps - Purchase and install new, updated maps.

Here is a list of all the features that have been added: http://bit.ly/wfJGBv.

Thank you again for taking the time to review our products.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 1:52:39 PM PST
J. York says:
I updated my review to mention that the MyTomTom software has gotten better. But let's be honest- the MyTomTom software was released prematurely in 2011 and as a result, you have stale reviews like mine complaining about it. It's a shame because the 1505 has been a good GPS.

Posted on Mar 12, 2012 3:40:19 AM PDT
B. Kiser says:
That performance issue has been in every TomTom GPS that I've owned. I can only imagine it's a budget issue. Although I am a TomTom fan, it's VERY annoying. Often (I know you're supposed to do this, but everyone does!) when you are driving and hit a key, it's slow to type the letter. Sure would be a lot easier and safer if it was fast.

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 4:55:12 PM PDT
Darthvagrant says:
One ENORMOUS improvement Tom Tom could make is having the unit 'snap in'to a carrier to which the 12V cord attatches (ala Garmin). When one removes the GPS unit, it's much more difficult with a Tom Tom than Garmiin. Other than that, I prefer the Tom Tom unit(s). I have several of each.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 7:18:30 AM PDT
pc says:
I appreciate TomTom responding to user's comments. Shows the company is truly trying to improve their product.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 1:06:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2013 1:34:22 PM PDT
Fred Keezer says:
Purchased the VIA 1505.....I agree with everything that J York has already stated, I just recently purchased a refurb at sears for 79 bucks, a steal in comparison to what most people have spent on this unit. My complaints in priority are 1.) no way to save a planned route for future use, with vias, stopping points etc...and 2.) the speed zone function only seems to work on about half of the roads. This is including major state highways. Not sure if there is a third party software i could get that improves this, its a nice feature when it works. Since i bought a refurb in 2013 I don't seem to be experiencing the same issues as J York did in regards to the speed limits being different, simply not there at times. The acquisition has been fairly quick, no complaints yet. I also am waiting to see if the speed camera feature really works....its in the menu system and you are able to assign alarms for the various camera types, but i have not been able to confirm if this function is really working yet....

Posted on Jan 1, 2014 11:16:19 AM PST
Pentaxian says:
I currently have a tomtom XL340 and was looking to upgrade to a newer device. I suggested a magellan to my wife as a christmas present and got it.....terrible unit. anyway I am going to stick with Tomtom and go for the 1535tm.

one thing I am not comfortable with is the voice recognition..........is this the only way to use this one or can you type in the addresses and what not

thanks
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Location: Cypress, TX United States

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