on July 10, 2011
July 12, 2012
After having the Nuvi 1490LMT in my car for the longest time, I finally took it inside the house a couple of days ago and updated its map/software. In the update, they took care of the "disappearing map" glitch for this particular unit. They also updated some of the map graphics, especially the junction and lane assist views - they have a more polished look (they look better IMO).
I tested the Nuvi and happy to report that the "disappearing map" glitch is indeed fixed. I did not experience a map reload during the entire 1-hour drive.
Garmin Nuvi 1490LMT vs. TomTom Via 1535TM
I purchased both units to compare them and in the end pick the unit that best suits my needs and preferences. I wanted to get a new GPS unit because the built in unit I have in my SUV is outdated. The portability, being able to use on another vehicle, and the free lifetime maps are really what I'm after but decided that lifetime traffic alerts is not a bad option either. I would like to point out that whatever you chose between the two, the decision will not be a mistake as they are both good GPS units, they both have their own strengths and weaknesses, but it will come down to what you really prefer or your comfort level.
I tested both units driving around where I live and when we went on vacation in Las Vegas. I had them mounted next to each other most of the time.
TomTom Via 1535TM
- By default, provides more info (speed, distance, time etc) on the status bar, located on bottom of screen, compared to the Nuvi. And just above the Via's status bar, it shows the street name that you are currently on (I find this very helpful), the Nuvi does not have this feature while navigating. The Nuvi will give you the option to display the same info on its status bar, but it will place the status bar vertically on the right side of the display that makes the main screen smaller (like an old 3.5" GPS screen) I really really like this feature and how it's displayed on the screen, it's really cool to have all this info ready at all times. Something you might say, "Honey, I'm about 65 miles away and will be home in about 50 minutes, by 2:30pm, I should be pulling up by the driveway." All this info is displayed on the unit at all times, you don't have to calculate in your head.
- Consistently finds POIs faster than the Nuvi. It's almost instant whereas the Nuvi could take seconds, sometimes even several minutes to find its first POI (this really sucks when you are so ready to go, even a minute feels like an eternity!). But this also depends on how popular the POI is, if you're looking for McDonalds or something well known, then both units will give you an instant list.
- The voice command feature is great when it works and it works most of the time. I really like this feature especially when driving to a new address; it is so much easier saying where you are going instead of manually inputting everything onto the unit. It's also great for looking for a certain POI while driving, I love how you can just say "Go to the nearest Starbucks" and it will get you there with just a single button input! The voice command feature is not perfect though, as some POI names, no matter how your pronounce it, just won't get recognized by the unit. I tried IKEA and 7-ELEVEN numerous times with no success. I was driving on the freeway one time and my low fuel indicator flashed and in a city I'm not familiar with and all I have to say was "Go to the nearest gas station" and within minutes I'm filling up my gas tank! This is so cool! I didn't have to fiddle with the unit to input and chose where I needed to go, keeping my attention on the road - where it should be. Even with the feature's shortcomings, I found this feature to be a deal breaker!
- I also like the fact that you can still access the device while connected to the computer. This is helpful if you wanted to change settings or play around with the unit. The Nuvi locks you out the minute you plug in the USB cord.
- The voice on the unit sounds a lot better than the Garmin Nuvi. The voice sounds more human, better to the ears while the Nuvi's voice sounds too robotic. The volume on the Nuvi is much louder than the Via though.
- Preloaded speed traps/traffic camera POIs. The unit will beep to alert you of incoming traffic cameras! It'll make you rethink about running that red light!! The Nuvi does not have any traffic camera POIs preloaded, although you can download these from online.
- The Via takes a long time to acquire a satellite signal! It takes anywhere from 1 to 4 minutes just to get a lock on a signal! You're probably saying, what's 1-4 minutes?! Well, I had the Nuvi next to it turned on the same and it acquired a signal in less than 30 seconds! The 4 minutes of waiting feels like forever! And this is not sometimes... this is all the time!!
- Like a lot of people say, the LCD screen of the TomTom Via is inferior to that of the Garmin Nuvi's. And I have to agree! The display gets easily washed up under the sun! There are times when you have to really focus on the screen just to read what is on there. It also doesn't help that the letters and graphics on the screen are smaller and the colors are not that vivid! The icons look flat as well. I was shocked when one day I was driving (almost sunset) when the sun's rays coming from the rear window hit the Via's screen and I totally couldn't see it, while the Nuvi sitting next to it was still visible!
- The unit is not very responsive, very sluggish... You press an icon and it almost takes a full second to respond! There are also no beeps when you click on something, unlike the Nuvi that responds faster and gives you an audio cue every time you touch something on the screen.
- Although the unit generates a POI list very fast, the list it provides shows very little info. It will only list found POIs and the distance in miles away from your location... Drilling down further will only provide a phone number and a mini map of its location. I found this very annoying as I always like to know the address of where I'm going, what city, what street it's on etc. I live in the Bay Area (California) and would always like to know the city of my destination since I would rather travel more miles than to cross one of the bridges, deal with the traffic and pay toll! I find it uncomfortable to just drive to a location xx miles away and with no other info... The Nuvi provides the full address, phone number and more info of all its POIs.
- Voice Command when making calls is almost useless. If you have an iPhone, use its Voice Control feature to make calls instead - it will give you better results. The Via has a hard time recognizing names, so when you say "Call (insert name here)", it'll give you a list of your contact info, and you have to scroll down to get to the person you want to call then say the number of the contact before it'll dial. And given how the unit is very unresponsive to inputs, this little call could become very annoying fast!
- There is also a bug that they need to fix. After updating the maps, all your favorites get deleted! This can get frustrating if you end up doing these four times a year (number of times they issue map updates in a year). MyTomTom, their online support, is still not fully functional. The only thing that it really does is update maps; you can't download extra voices, extra POIs and other things.
Garmin Nuvi 1490LMT
- The LCD Screen on the Nuvi shows very well under the sun. The colors pop and you won't get the washed up colors you get with the Via. The display is not cluttered with unnecessary info, very easy to read with big letters, better contrast and vivid colors. This is one of the main selling points of the Garmins, they are very easy to understand and use! You glance at the screen instead of "focusing" because of how easy it is to digest. The Garmin just has a better GUI (in my opinion) compared to the Via. I find the icons on the Nuvis looking better compared to the Via's flat look. The Nuvi just displays everything better, it's "prettier" and easier to look at than the Via. The Via is like reading a book where the Nuvi is like reading a book with pictures. The presentation is just better with the Nuvi.
- Detailed POIs. The Nuvi generates POIs with complete addresses, phone numbers and how far it is from your location. I really like that Garmin included the complete address instead of just the distance. It gives you a better sense of direction and the comfort of knowing where you're going. The downside is that the Nuvi takes longer than the Via when looking for POIs that are not very common. It is also very convenient when saving these POIs to your favorites as you don't have to enter/edit too much info.
- Acquires satellite signals very quickly compared to the Via, which usually takes 1-4 minutes. The Nuvi usually takes less than 30 seconds to lock on a signal, a minute at the longest. The GPS start up is also very quick. The unit is also very responsive to your commands; it gives you audio cues when inputting commands. It seems that the Nuvi just does everything a tad quicker than the Via.
- I actually like the fact that Nuvi will say "Recalculating" when you miss a turn. I like to know when I make a mistake, so for example, when I come back to the same place without the GPS, I'm not taking the "wrong turn" and thinking that it's the correct way... The Nuvi recalculates fairly quickly and usually gets you on the right track right away. The Via will not give you an audio cue if you miss a turn, it'll just instantly recalculate and show you the next correct turn as if you were on the correct path all along. Some people actually prefer this as they are sick of hearing "recalculating".
- When you put an entry in your Favorites, the Nuvi will actually pronounce the name you give it. (BTW, the Nuvi does this for all destinations) For example, if I name my friends address as "Fat Joe's House", the Nuvi will actually say "Arriving at Fat Joe's House in .5 miles" or "You have arrived at Fat Joe's House on the right". Just imagine the possibilities... hahaha! It's surprising how many words and names the Nuvi can pronounce! The Via, on the other hand, will just give you the default message - "You have arrived at your destination on the right". Some folks might not find this as a PRO but I sure am entertained by this!
- I wished that they could've added the same info on the status bar like that of the Via. On the status bar on the bottom of the screen, it only shows the estimated time of arrival on the left pane, the current speed and the speed limit on the right pane, the middle pane shows the lane assist feature when needed. The Nuvi also does not show the current street you're driving on, and if you have forgotten, the only option is for you to look out the window and look for street signs.
- Looking up non-common POIs can be very frustrating! My family decided to check out the Boiling Crab, a very popular restaurant that serves mostly seafood (super yummy!). Upon entering the name, the Via showed 2 Boiling Crab locations instantly while the Nuvi was still "searching". We decided to just go and not wait for the the Nuvi. 50 minutes later, we are parking the car and the Nuvi is still "searching"! C'mon Garmin, if it's not in the POI database, then just make the unit say "not found" or something like that, instead of making us wait! The Via will show you "not found" if it didn't find the POI in its database, it won't make you wait forever!
- The traffic alerts comes with its evil twin - advertisement! If the TomTom Via can give you lifetime traffic alerts without ads then why can't the Garmin Nuvi? I found that the ads will pop up when at a complete stop and when your are driving on unmarked roads, like parking lots, the ads do not block too much of the screen to become a safety hazard but still annoying to some people (it doesn't bother me at all). There's an option to disable the ads but doing so will also disable the traffic alerts.
- While navigating, the Nuvi's display would all of a sudden turn blank (white screen) for about half a second and it then quickly "re-draws" the map. It seems like it "reloads" the map at certain points. This reload does not affect the navigation in any way but it's just odd that it does this. I'm not sure if it's a defect on my unit... I will contact Garmin about this and will keep you guys updated. This happens at least once every time I use the GPS unit! I find this annoying as I never saw this happening with the Via. Anyone else experiencing this on their 1490LMT? Please comment...
- These two units will get you to your destination one way or another. I drove with these 2 units around my neighborhood and found that both make "mistakes". Mistakes, meaning they will take me to longer routes or make unnecessary turns... From South San Francisco to San Francisco - The Nuvi made me drive on El Camino Real, a long boulevard, (after purposely missing some turns) before making me hop on the freeway (I-280) at the end, while the Via kept directing me to hop on the freeway entrances along the way. From SF to SSF - I'm driving down 10th street towards the I-280 freeway entrance when all of a sudden the Via told me to make a left, then a right, another right and finally another left to get back on 10th street! WTF?! Bottom line, they will both make navigation mistakes but they will both get you where you're supposed to go.
- The traffic routing is hit or miss. If the accident or the delay is not reported then there's no way for you to find out or avoid it in time. There was only one time in which the Nuvi gave me better traffic routing than the Via. Most of the time, both of the units, gave me the same routing. I also found that both units also report delays inaccurately... for example, both units will say a 2 minute delay (afternoon traffic) along my route but it really is more like a 10-15 minute delay!
- Both units monitor how fast you're going compared to the speed limit. The Nuvi's display will turn red if you surpass the speed limit even by 1mph, the Via will only turn red if you go 5mph faster.
- The Nuvi always shows an earlier estimated time of arrival compared to the Via. There's usually a 10-minute gap between the two units. For example, the Nuvi will estimate a time of arrival of 2:30, the Via at 2:40 but you actually get there by 2:35 The Nuvi seems to base its estimate as if as though you will not encounter traffic delays and the opposite can be said about the Via.
- The Nuvi shows a very accurate picture of the junction views - it will actually show you all the signs like how you would see them on the actual freeway. It grays out the signs that you are not suppose to take. The Via only shows the sign that you are suppose to take, it's as if it is the only sign on the freeway. I wonder if this might confuse some drivers. They both do a great job at illustrating which lanes to take. The Via shows the junction views longer than the Nuvi. The Nuvi shows the picture for about 7-9 seconds while the Via shows it close to 15 seconds.
- Updating the maps on these units are very straightforward but the process is much quicker on the Nuvi that that of the Via. The Via took hours to complete! Close to 3 hours if I'm not mistaken. Updating gadgets should not have to take that long...
- Both units paired with my iPhone 3GS without a hitch. Both units automatically pair up with my iPhone and downloads my contact info upon boot up. Receiving a call is easy with both units but found that the Nuvi is easier at making calls. You have to use the Via's troublesome Voice Command feature to make calls while the Nuvi uses the iPhone's Voice Control feature that is so much easier to use. I find the bluetooth functionality very convenient as it makes making and receiving calls that much easier while driving.
It took me almost a month to decide which one to keep... and in the end I chose the Garmin Nuvi. I went with the Garmin because of its LCD display and it's GUI (Graphic User Interface) - it's simple, easy to read, understand and use. It puts me at ease that my wife can use it without asking me how to use it! I like the fact that the display stays sharp and vivid under the sun. I like how it gives the full addresses on POIs and how easier it is at making phone calls. As much as I like the Via's Voice Command feature and its included traffic/speed POIs, I can't overlook the fact that the Nuvi is a much "polished" product. I really don't care that the Via's MyTomTom online support is non-existent at the moment (it's still in beta) as long as they can provide me with updated maps, which they can. Although, it made me smile when I could download my little kids favorites - Spongebob and Dora, as Voices and car characters from the Nuvi's online support page.
I really really like all the info that the Via shows on the screen but I find myself looking at it too much instead of the road! I like computers, so I like data and info as much as the next nerd but my wife had to tell me to keep my eyes on the road a couple of times while on a long drive... the Via became somewhat of a distraction. I really miss the Via's Voice Command... it is soooo cool! It doesn't work sometimes but when it does, I feel like Captain Kirk! A couple of updates on the voice command feature and it'll probably work much better! If I were given a few more days with the Via, I would have probably picked it over the Nuvi... I don't know, it's just a super cool device for the same price!!
I'm a family man with wife and kids. So in the end, I chose a unit that I feel is very safe on the road that could easily aid us in getting where we need to go. The less distraction the better... '
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:
Very fast re-routing.
Very large screen.
Really helpful intersection detail screens pop up when going through a route.
No problem with polarized sunglasses.
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)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
on April 5, 2011
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.
on June 10, 2011
I purchased this device for my mother as a birthday present because it seemed to be easy to use and easy to update you plug it in and it updates. Well the problems started right out of the box. They have started using a new software a few months ago and well it doesn't work. I first went to register and update the TOMTOM at their site. Well it registered but would not update and then the lifetime maps would not apply. So for THREE days I had to deal with tech support where they finally applied the lifetime maps to my account for this device. The code and the registration page never would work. Then things got even worse a new map update popped up. It takes two to three hours just to download on a fast connection then it would not load. Tech support suggested reboots of both computer and device and then they added in factory resets and nothing worked the updates would not load. Also with each reboot I would clear the cache so the update had to re-download and the device had to stay on but it has an auto off feature so I had to sit there tapping the screen every five minutes to keep it active and no there is no way to turn off the auto shutdown. So after a day and night of tries I called tech support again and asked what I should do next? I should mention that the hold time for all my calls was around two hours each call and I have had to make several calls to them but anyway. The tech replied that they had no fix, that the new software is buggy and doesn't work properly. I asked what does that mean for me? To which the tech replied they should have it working as intended in three to six months or possibly longer! I said that seems unacceptable I explained why I bought it and his reply was perhaps I should return it and choose another product. He did not seem to be saying I should choose another TOMTOM product.
I have to say when even your tech support says the product doesn't work as intended then perhaps its time for a recall or at least a rollback on the malfunctioning software. I have never called any tech support for any electronic device ever and been told, after a two hour wait on hold, by tech support "Our product sucks you would do better with a product from someone else." I will never suggest a TOMTOM product to anyone nor will I ever buy one again.
on April 27, 2011
Love my new Tom Tom! This is the first GPS that I have owned. I had no problems connecting to MyTomTom and activating the code for the unlimited map and traffic updates.
I tried it out this weekend on a trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area. The Via 1535TM worked perfectly. It initially found the satellite quickly and was quick to reroute my path whenever I decided to stop at a few unplanned locations along the way. The directions were spoken clearly and were accurate throughout the trip. This was a concern for me in this area, as the park service had noted on its website that GPS systems could sometimes be inaccurate in the park area.
While researching a GPS to purchase, I had read reviews about other Tom Tom models that did not stay mounted properly while driving. This model seems to have a locking device that helps the GPS stay mounted properly. It was easy for me to mount the GPS to my dashboard using the included mounting disc. The Via 1535 stayed securely mounted during my entire trip. However, I have not tried to mount the GPS to the windshield. The dash mount was the most convenient for me to use in my vehicle. I did remove it and remount it several times during the trip with no problems or difficulties.
I also inserted a 4 Gb Micro SD card into the Via 1535. I wanted to be sure that I had enough memory to accomodate future map updates. I had to look at the unit pretty closely, because the slot on the back of the unit is quite small and not at all obvious. The expandable memory was an important feature for me though. I had read reviews about other GPS units that did not have enough space to accomodate map updates. However, this should not be a problem with the Via 1535 once the micro SD card is in place.
I have not tried out the Bluetooth feature or the voice command. However, these features were not factors in my decision to purchase this product. I wanted a GPS with accurate navigation, easy to use features, adequate or expandable memory, 5" bright screen, clearly spoken street names, lifetime traffic and maps, and no pop up ads. Based on those features, I have been very happy with this GPS so far.
on April 13, 2011
In the past, I have owned or used a variety of GPS units. My last GPS unit was stolen from my car. I know that I shouldn't have left in the car, but I have learned a lesson for my laziness. Therefore, I needed to buy a new GPS unit due to my work as a medical transport officer. I reviewed about every brand of GPS units out there and kept coming back to the TomTom 1505TM 5-inch Navigator. I was leary at first to get this unit, but it was advertised to have about every feature that I needed. I said...What the Heck...and bought the TomTom 1505TM 5-inch Navigator. It came last Saturday and I needed to use it as soon as it showed up at my door. Setting it up was so easy, I was thinking...Did I miss something? The screen is very clear and the directions were FIRST CLASS. It even steered me around an accident so that my trip would not be delayed. I needed to stop for lunch and I was sure that my little sandwich joint would not be on it, but I programed it into my TomTom and ALAS...there it was. I was so Very impressed.
Later in the day I swung around my son's house and had to show him my new TomTom. He is a confirmed Garmin user and thinks all other brands are just a waste of money. We put my TomTom in his car and drove around. He wanted to give it a rigid test and compare it to his Garmin. After he did several maneuvers on my TomTom (A few, I'm sure, to cause my TomTom to malfunction), even he was impressed and admitted that my TomTom outperformed ANY of the Garmin GPSs that he has owned.
BOTTOM LINE: the TomTom 1505TM 5-inch Navigator with its state of the art technology is by far the BEST GPS unit out there.
on April 14, 2011
Update on 4/20/11:
I continued to have significant issues with the TomTom device, and with absolutely no help from TomTom, Amazon allowed me to exchange the product (which was very easy to do!). The replacement device works MUCH better -- I'm not experiencing the bugginess or lack of responsiveness I had with the previous device. I'm assuming my original had a defect with the touchscreen. I'm quite happy with the device itself, but I left the rating at 3/5 stars for 2 reasons:
1) My review of the MyTomTom software as of April 2011 and the false advertising (see below) stands.
2) TomTom Support does not seem ready to support the new product or software yet.
For those who care most about the GPS unit itself though, I'm very happy with it -- intuitive, responsive, beautiful interface, and more capable than previous TomToms. Once TomTom fixes their software and support, I'm sure a review could easily give it 5/5 stars.
Original Review on 4/14/11:
I was excited to buy this product recently, and receive it on 4/12/11.
However, I have to warn everyone considering any of the newer TomTom VIA line to be cautious.
First, TomTom recently retired their old "TomTom Home" software for new "MyTomTom" software. Many of the features on this Amazon page and on TomTom's page are NOT available because the new software is incapable of supporting those features. This includes map sharing (sharing updates), QuickGPSFix, speed camera updates, voice purchases, backing up your device, etc. I confirmed this via email and via a phone call with TomTom Support. Online forums seem to suggest that it could be months or longer before the software provides this. The phone support rep said that perhaps some of the features would be offered in 30-60 days.
Secondly, the device I received has a sluggish interface most of the time, and the interface will freeze (especially if there's no GPS signal) the rest of the time. The routing functionality is very fast, but it's not useful if you can't actually interact with the device. I received a bit of a runaround from TomTom Support, and even sent them a video I recorded of the problems -- they had no suggestions and suggested I wait for the next application release to fix the bugs.
Finally, the TomTom support site and reps are not ready to support these new devices. Their online support site has articles which fail to even list the new VIA line and their phone support menu doesn't even include it. When using email support, the support rep kept sending me articles on other TomTom models.
Just to summarize, you won't receive the features advertised (this is confirmed), and my experience with the device was poor from the start. I can't express how disappointed I am -- this looked an excellent product, and the interface is beautiful... but unusable.
on April 1, 2011
I bought this GPS right before my trip around the south western United States that encompasses Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colarado, New Mexico, Arizona (where I got a freakin speeding ticket by the cameras for doing 77!), and finally LA back to northern California. I planned my trip with the TomTom by setting the destinations as the state capitols.
Before the trip, I set up all the settings such as color and car icon (which I switched to Micky mouse) and the welcome and goodbye screens. The personalization is limitless with the Tomtom Home application you install on your computer, there you can update the firmware and maps (lifetime maps), also you can choose from thousands of screens and car icons, a very big plus. I changed the voice to a Indian accent, which cost a dollar or two but was hilarious.
Performance wise, I'd say is very on par with TomTom's reputation. Recalculations do not take more than 7-9 seconds, also satellite signal lock, while not instant, was much faster than any of my other friends GPS units. My only gripe is, whenever you exit the freeway or dont exit the freeway when you are supposed to, the unit can't sense it until the exit or stretch of freeway goes beyond the circle of triangulation. This problem I have seen on every single GPS unit I have seen or owned, even on the Lexus I used to drive that senses wheel turn. It's not a very big deal, but be aware that this is a very pervasive problem among GPS units.
The menu is very simple, with large icons that relate to its function. Typing is very easy, like texting on a smart phone that does not have physical keys, although if you have big fingers, you might mistype sometimes, not a deal breaker by any means, just type steady. Know that the 5 inch screen is comparatively big. The 1505 also comes with Voice recognition so you can just speak your destination.
The resolution is 480 by 272 pixel resolution. Its dimensions are 4.7 inches long by 3.1 inches wide 1 inch deep, and it weighs 6.5 ounces, not very large and can fit any pocket, cubby or glovebox.
You get two extra gigabytes of memory than the cheaper models: 4 GB. But, it doesn't have a SD card slot which really really sucks, but I guess 4GB will suffice.
Battery life, averaged, is about 2 hours, i found if you switch off voice guidance and lower the brightness, you get a little more. Thats not bad, as most trips i take are less than 2 hours, i really do not like having to plug in the cigarette adapter.
The 1505 comes with an integrated mounting feature like most TomToms, which is a really nice feature. Basically, your mount is connected to the back of your device, and you simply pull it out when you want to set up your TomTom on your dashboard.
You also receive a variety of other applications, including Map Share, IQ Routes and Advanced Lane Guidance. Map Share allows you to update your TomTom map as often as you like for free. This ensures that you always have the latest road information for free.
The IQ Routes application ensures you never get stuck in traffic. This feature actually downloads the latest traffic information to provide you with the shortest route to your destination. It doesn't just go by the posted speed limit of a road; it actually pulls up how fast cars are actually moving which is a real lifesaver, especially when I was going through LA. LA traffic especially along 101 is notorious and I was very very grateful that the 1505 actually sensed the traffic speed and gave me a short cut to ahead of where the traffic was. Like the Maps, the traffic feature is lifetime too, and it doesn't have ads like I have seen on some Garmin GPS units.
The Advanced Lane Guidance feature is for anyone who's ever missed a turn because they were in the wrong lane. This feature will visually show you how many lanes lead to which exit so you can be sure if your lane will work.
If you want a big screen and a pack of features, then the TomTom VIA 1505 is for you. The 1505 with the lifetime maps and traffic is pretty much standard fare, all you need in a GPS unit with lifetime road and map info, TomTom menu simplicity, and a huge screen; all for just 200. However the deal breaker for some might be that the 1505 doesn't have hands free, but that was fine for me, I have a bluetooth device on my stereo.
in the box:
- TomTom 1505TM
- Suction mount (to mount to window or dashboard pad)
- Dashboard pad (blastic circle that provides a stable surface for the suction mount)
- USB cable
- Cigarette adapter
- Set Up Guide
- 1 code, valid for Lifetime Map/Traffic updates
When i bought this 1505 model, i purchased the 1535 VIA as well for a friend who's birthday is coming up. It is basically the same exact thing as the 1505 but it has bluetooth handsfree for only like 20 bucks more. I didn't need that feature because my car already has bluetooth. We switched our units for like a week, and honestly, i could not tell it was hers except for the fact that she didn't download the Indian accent voice package on hers.
Side note, i recently clarified with my friend, she says the 1535 does have a SD card slot, so thats one more extra feature of the 1535
on November 2, 2011
I am sooooo frustrated with this $^%&%** GPS (1535 Via with lifetime --- NOT!!!).
Lifetime Code doesn't work. I get the following
"The activation code you have entered is not valid. Please try again.'"
So I signed onto myTomTom to access the "support"
Not even close to what's happening - the little screen shot never shows up, I have no idea what this is for, but it sure as heck isn't for my GPS.
So after having my sign-in challenged 4-5 times, calling Customer Support to a fast-busy; I'm giving up. Yep, I'm venting. Why would a company ever put a paying customer through this type of BS? If the stuff is included in the purchase, just make it included in the purchase - why go through these hoops?
So I searched the Forum archives - I found one post that looked like it might work, but jeez, it was 40 steps of clearing caches, deleting files, restarting stuff - you get the idea.
I searched the TomTom archives - I found one 'fix' that was 40-lines long and had all sorts of file-re-writes. Yea, like I'm gonna do that.
So what's next? Well, I'm sending this pack to Amazon.
Hope it works better for you guys -
I've tried them all, and Garmin has always been the clear winner--until now.
If you're reading this you're probably wondering if that big five inch screen makes up for the fact that this is not a Garmin. After trying it out, cold turkey, didn't even bring the Garmin with me, I can confidently recommend you forget about even an equivalently sized and priced Garmin. The TomTom VIA is better in every respect.
It starts up and finds the satellites near instantly--faster than my Garmin by a long shot.
First I drove out to an address I'd never been to in Floral Park from Astoria, Queens and that proved that the TomTom is just as good. But it was the second drive of the day, from Floral Park, all the way across New York City and over the George Washington Bridge to Edgewater, New Jersey--during New York City rush hour--on a Wednesday, which really blew me away.
First it warned me that there were tolls along the route and offered an alternative, toll-free route. I chose to pay the tolls. Then, a bit before I encountered heavy traffic it stated which lane was closed, marked the spot where the disabled truck was, displayed the amount of delay time, then offered an alternate route which was 33 minutes faster. (The alternate was also the only traffic free route. It was shocking.)
Add that there is a display in the lower center of the screen which tells you which lanes you should be in and which ones you should avoid so that you don't end up taking an unintended exit or making a hazardous move suddenly turning into another lane. This should prevent many expensive accidents.
Not impressed yet? Every once in a while an alarm would sound and a symbol warning that there was a camera speed trap ahead. It would then display the same symbol on the route showing me exactly where the speed trap was.
Additionally, it displays the legal speed limit on the piece of road I'm presently on, and my current speed just above it. If I exceed the speed limit by 5 mph, that part of the display turns red.
This thing pays for itself in time savings and would-have-been traffic tickets.
Those are the highlights amongst the many PROS.
CON: I will only offer only one CON. The suction cup mount works great but is the only mount available--regardless of whether you choose to mount it on the windshield, the dashboard, or the friction mount (sold separately). The dashboard mount that comes in the box is a plastic disc with a double face mounting square on it--which you have to suction cup mount the unit to. And if you get the friction mount (which I had to purchase separately) you still have no choice but to suction cup it to the mount.
So far, this hasn't been a problem but I wish that the only time I had to use a suction cup mount was if I wanted to mount it on the windshield.