When I received the TomTom Via 225 to review, I was excited to see what updates TomTom had made to its in-car navigation units. It turns out, as Scribe would so poetically put it in a hip hop single back in 2003, “Not many, if any”.
I mounted it on my car and plugged it in, typed in an address and got on my way. It all worked perfectly, just like all the other TomTom units I’d used before. I was a little disappointed to see that TomTom still hasn’t addressed my telepathic messages and made the magnetic mount of its Go Live 2050 the standard mount for all its devices but, since the 2050 is a top of the range unit and the 225 isn’t trying to be, it’s understandable.
The Via 225 doesn’t allow you to use voice commands to select an address, but typing on the QWERTY keyboard that appears on the touchscreen is easy and the auto-complete function accelerates the process in most situations.
IQ routes keep updating throughout your trip with more accurate times to your destination. The advanced lane guidance feature, which is not new to TomTom devices, comes in handy especially for motorway exits – it shows which lane to take at junctions so you don’t miss your turn-off or exit.
I used the unit during my daily commute to work, not because I still can’t find my way to the office, but precisely because of the accuracy of the estimated times of arrival given by IQ routes, which made it easy to tell the boss exactly how late I’d be each morning.
The company claims that this latest unit makes driving “stress-free” for Kiwis and, if you exclude the guy that tried to cut me off on the motorway that one time, it was indeed pretty stress-free – accurate information, precise directions and the easy-to-use interface that TomTom had already got me used to.
The device lets you select ‘Ben’ for a New Zealand English accent. Ben and I are like old mates, since I’ve used him with previous TomTom models. He does a solid job at pronouncing Maori street names that even I have trouble saying, but keeps telling me to “grab [my] togs, jandals and chilly bin” whenever I get to a destination, whether that destination is the beach, the supermarket, or my in-laws’ house. Tone it down, Ben.
Daily map upgrades and free lifetime maps are included, meaning that once you pay the pretty acceptable $199 price for the device, there’ll be no additional charges to keep the device going. However, note that this is an offline unit and, as such, in doesn’t include the live traffic updates that other TomTom models provide you with. Roadworks, for example, will not be taken into account when calculating routes. For map updates, you need to sync the device via your computer.
The price is the most attractive feature of the Via 225, especially if you consider the value of getting the free lifetime map updates. For $199, I’ll overlook the lack of new features, since it makes this the perfect navigation unit for someone who wants exactly that, no extra bells and whistles.
This review was originally published in the May 2013 issue of PC World.