It's amazing to think, considering how dangerous it is to fiddle with gadgets whilst driving, that few sat-navs offer truly capable voice control. Garmin has developed the most effective system so far, as seen in its nuvi 3790T. But TomTom was never going to let this lead remain for too long. So we have the TomTom Via 135, which launches the company's new Speak & Go system, alongside the Via 130, the main difference between the two being that the 135 offers a 5in screen whilst the 130 settles for 4.3in.
Unlike the Garmin voice implementation, TomTom's Speak & Go still requires a single finger press to get started, on the little microphone icon to the left of the screen. But after that, the vast majority of everyday tasks are accessible verbally. For example, you can enter an address this way, and TomTom has made this easier than other manufacturer's voice systems. You simply state the address as you would in natural language - house number, street, and city, all at once. You don't need to enter each individually. We found Speak & Go pretty effective with all the addresses we tried, and in fact quicker than entering addresses manually. You can also navigate to your home location or a Favourite. However, you can't enter a post code verbally, which is a major drawback.
The efficiency of entering a destination verbally is nice, but it's not essential, as there's a good chance you will be stationary when setting your initial destination. Where it comes into its own, however, is in those situations where you really should have your hands on the wheel. For example, you can ask to find the nearest petrol station, after which you are given a list to choose from verbally, by number, and you will be rerouted. For those times when you get too close to running out of fuel on a lengthy stretch of motorway, this can really make a perilous situation far more manageable. Having verbal control over the Avoid Roadblock functions will be extremely useful, too.
Similarly, you can search for a local restaurant or hospital, should hunger or illness strike in a journey. You can zoom the map and mute the sound, or control the volume. It's also possible to add a favourite using the voice commands. TomTom has made its Map Share and speed camera reporting functions safer to use, too, by making this verbally accessible. However, this is an example of where you need to know a very specific command ("mark map error" rather than anything involving "Map Share"), as only this will call up the correct function. On TomTom devices with LIVE services, of which the Via 135 isn't one, you can even check traffic and weather by voice. But there is Bluetooth available, so you can connect to your phone and operate it through the TomTom, including placing calls and using the sat-nav as a hands-free device.