Another important feature carried over from the GO LIVE 1000 is the route calculation system. Until the GO LIVE 1000, all previous sat-navs have worked out their routes on the fly using advanced path-finding algorithms. With the GO LIVE 1000, and now the Via LIVE 120 as well, every possible route between two points has been pre-calculated and stored locally, so all the device has to do is look up the appropriate entry for the given start and finish points. This also applies to recalculation. In our testing, the GO LIVE 1000 and Via LIVE 120 take less than 10 seconds to calculate any route, or change route if you diverge from the suggestion or traffic conditions alter.
Other than this, the Via Live offers a standard TomTom map screen and feature set, with just a few visual tweaks to the appearance. TomTom’s IQ Routes is on hand when calculating the path to take to the destination. This uses historical traffic speed data to calculate the fastest way, taking into account differing traffic patterns depending on time of day and day of week. Extra widgets include Advanced Lane Guidance. This now ubiquitous feature pops up a realistic image of a complex motorway interchange as you approach, so you can get in the right lane.
All these features make the Via LIVE 120 sound almost as good as TomTom’s devices prior to the GO LIVE 1000. However, there are a few cost savings. The screen mount is integrated, as it is with entry-level devices like the Start2, except that in this case it can't be removed or rotated, which could be problematic as it hinges from the top of the device. To make this setup more flexible, the screen will automatically flip if you mount the device upside down, although there’s no portrait mode available. You also only get one USB 2 cable, which either plugs into your computer or the car power adapter dongle provided.
The TomTom Via LIVE 120 brings some excellent navigation technology to an even more affordable level. Against the alternatives from other manufacturers, it makes a strong case, particularly if you're a regular rush-hour commuter. However, at its current price it sits uncomfortably between the XL LIVE and GO LIVE 1000. The former is £20 cheaper, but we'd argue that the improved interface and faster routing of the Via LIVE 120 are worth the extra. In contrast, you can now buy the Regional edition of the GO LIVE 1000 for under £200. So until the Via LIVE 120 drops in price a bit more and replaces the XL LIVE, you might as well forego a round of drinks and get the GO LIVE 1000 instead.