I'm a sucker for in-car gadgets, so when I got the opportunity to get some hands on time with a new TomTom ONE 3rd Edition, I snapped up the chance.
For the past year my navigational needs have been met by a Garmin Nuvi GPS receiver, which, apart from trying to send me on a few detours where I knew better and ignored its advice, has always performed flawlessly. So the bar was already set pretty high for the TomTom ONE.
The TomTom ONE 3rd Edition is pretty much what I've come expect from an automotive GPS receiver. First, there's the cardboard box. Inside that is the GPS receiver, which for some reason always looks tiny to me initially and I wonder how I'll be able to read it in the car. Along with the receiver is the usual selection of cables for powering it and hooking it up to PC, and a suction cup for attaching it to the windshield. And let's not forget the manual.
After spending a few minutes handling the TomTom ONE, a few things struck me about the design of the unit. First off, the device has an integral antenna rather than the fold-out antenna that I'm used to on the Nuvi. This makes much more sense to me, since the fold-out antenna can make it hard to position the Garmin in such a way as to put it in the best possible position for reading from the driver's seat because the antenna fouls up against the windshield. The second difference I noticed is that it's far easier to get the TomTom into the suction cup cradle thanks to the chunkier design of the attachment. I'm already loving this GPS receiver!
I'm a big believer in the idea that if you're going to be able to effectively make use of an automotive GPS receiver, it has to be simple to use. That means that you should be able to pick it up and start using it without reading the manual. Sure, the manual might give you tips and clarify a few features, but if the manual is overly thick and if key features are too complicated to use when on the move, the GPS will be consigned to the glove box. The manual for the TomTom is thin and contains numerous pictures - very promising.
Firing up the TomTom ONE for the first time gave me a few more pleasant surprises. First, the bootup time is fast and there's no need to click to get past dialog boxes, something that I find hugely annoying. The other surprise is that the interface colors are bright and easy to read - the 3.5 inch full color touch-sensitive screen is, despite seeming small initially, more than ample. I also like the friendly reminder to not leave the GPS receiver in the car when you switch it off ... not that I ever do that!
Another surprise on switching it on was the sensitivity of the receiver - even indoors it acquired a really good lock within seconds of turning on. That's impressive, and certainly much better than my other receivers can manage.
I'm looking forward to spending some time behind the wheel with the TomTom ONE over the next few days. I'll let you know how it goes - if I can find my way back home!
So far, I'm really impressed by this bit of kit.