- Review Price: £179.99
With the GO LIVE 1000, TomTom reduced the annual costs to under £50 and gave you a year out of the box, but it was still a premium device costing £250 or more. Now, with the Via LIVE 120, you can get the interactive services in a more affordable package.
As we’ve stated in detail, HD Traffic is our main reason for recommending TomTom’s LIVE over its competitors. Whilst most of the major sat-nav manufacturers now offer mobile data-enabled devices with traffic updates, these simply download the same Trafficmaster information as is also available via the FM radio RDS signal. The only benefit is more reliable and frequent updates. TomTom’s HD Traffic system adds Vodafone-supplied mobile phone triangulation data to this, so provides wider road coverage and more accurate information. It’s not infallible, but our regular tests have shown that it’s more effective than RDS-TMC at routing your journey away from jams as they develop, which can save you a great amount of time during a long rush-hour journey.
The remaining LIVE Services are less unique. Google Local Search is included, as it is with virtually all mobile data-enabled sat-navs. This provides a keyword-based national Points of Interest search, which goes well beyond what’s available in the static, locally stored alternative. It’s reasonably heuristic, too, so you can search for keywords which aren’t part of the destination’s address or title. Google Local Search is a very useful feature, although only where you have a mobile data connection available. Fortunately, with the European edition of the Via LIVE 120, TomTom’s subscription includes Google Local Search service in seven European countries at no extra charge.
A LIVE weather service is also available. This reports a daily forecast for your current location, or a destination of your choosing, although you can’t get more detail than this. The speed camera database is also kept up-to-date via the LIVE connection, so you’re less likely to be caught out by mobile units which have only just taken up position. You can report the location of cameras, and even place an optional button on the main map screen to speed this process up. Last, but not least, the QuickGPSFix system uses the cell triangulation of the Via LIVE 120’s mobile data connection to get a basic location, which speeds up GPS satellite lock considerably.
The Via LIVE 120 also offers voice control, which allows you to enter commands as well as addresses verbally, without taking your hands off the steering wheel. However, the system is far more limiting than Garmin’s nuvi 3790T. The address entry system only allows you to use the traditional city, street, and then house number process, not a full postcode. If you want to use the voice commands, you will need to add an icon to the map screen to enable this mode – you can’t just assign a verbal keyphrase as you can with the Garmin nuvi 3970T. And when you do enter a command, this simply drops you back to using your fingers for entering the actual information, unless you’re entering an address via the traditional method. So whilst it’s commendable to see voice control in a device at this price, it’s not a fully realised system. Another commendable inclusion at this price is a Bluetooth receiver, enabling hands-free calling with your mobile phone.
However, the other big news is that TomTom has also used the interface from the GO LIVE 1000 in the Via LIVE 120. A tortuous menu structure has long been TomTom’s Achilles Heel, and now the initial screen offers just six options, which then lead to better organised submenus, rather than the confusing pages of options found on the home screen of previous TomToms. Where a submenu does include multiple pages, your current place is indicated by a scroll bar along the bottom. TomTom has also changed the behaviour of Cancel buttons, which now take you straight back to the map rather than just back one menu level.
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.
|General Features||Voice Command, Lane Assist, Text-To-Speech|
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