TomTom VIA 135 sat nav reviewed

We’d already reviewed one of TomTom’s sat nav systems, and were mighty impressed by it overall. So, when they offered to send us their mid-range Via 135, we thought it’d be interesting to see what this £150 unit was good – and  bad at. Read on…

Design and Build

Review and test of TomTom Via 135 sat nav system. Image shows the box and contents. ©CarProductsTested.com2012

As with the the 825 we previously reviewed, this Via 135 has the same great build and material quality. The 13 cm (5 inch) screen provides deep, luscious colours with pin-sharp graphics, due to its 480 x 272 pixels. It’s one of the first things people mention when they see it. The second being ‘flip, that’s SO thin!’, when you turn it sideways and they realise it’s not much deeper than an iPhone 4.

Size-wise, it’ll easily fit into your glovebox, door-pocket or under your car seat. Handy if you want thieving scum’s eyes from noticing it. The locking sucker pad at the rear fully rotates so you can have it either way up, and once you do this, the image on the screen flips the right way. The locking pad is so much improved from the older models and sticks like glue until you’ve unlocked it. No more wetting the pad to make it stick!

Weight  181 grams
Dimensions  W:134 x H:95 x D:20 mm
Power  In-built battery
Warranty  1 year
Colour  Black
Bundle  TomTom VIA 135, in-car 12v charger & USB cable
Screen  13 cm (5″) touch screen, 16:9 ratio, 480 x 272 pixels
Website  www.tomtom.com
Price  £149.99

Review and test of TomTom Via 135 sat nav system. Image shows the unit in a hand to show the size. ©CarProductsTested.com2012

Features

The TomTom Via 135’s main bragging tool is of their ‘Speak & Go’ feature. To use, simply press the little microphone icon on the screen, and it’ll ask what you want to do. So, you can ask where the nearest restaurant, bar, garage, petrol station plus many other things are. This is a handy feature in some ways, but we found a couple of problems.

The first being that if you want to speak an address into it while driving, and only have a postcode, then you’re stuffed as it’ll only take a normal address as in street name and number. That’s annoying, and kinda defeats the purpose of the ‘Speak & Go’ function. Admittedly, it does pick up the addresses pretty well when you do have one, and we liked that.

Regarding speaking into it to ask where the nearest [whatever] is, it works well to an extent, but it’s still has flaws. For instance, I asked it where the nearest bar was, to which it responded ‘nearest Opera?’, and asking for a pub came ‘nearest airport?’. It turns out you need to ask for ‘Nightlife’ if you want it to find a pub or bar. That’s a wee bit PC for us, and a tiny bit annoying.

Test and review of TomTom Via 135 sat nav system. Image shows the rear of the Via 135 and the lockable sucker pad. ©CarProductsTested.com2012

It’s not all bad though, and it did have a degree of intelligence and deciphered us asking for things like a ‘garage’ into a ‘repair centre’. It did this with other phrases too, so we liked that.

Another feature we weren’t too impressed with was the handsfree dialling system. You pair your bluetooth phone to the Vias 135 and it’ll download your contacts. However, when you actually want to make a call you cannot simply ask for the person, i.e. ‘Call Bill’. All it will do is display the first five contacts alphabetically and you say the number next to the contact to get it to dial. Thing is, if you’ve got a lot of contacts you be scrolling through pages for minutes to find who you want. The only way to get around this is to speak their number out loud (if you can remember it).

Test of TomTom Via 135 sat nav system. Image shows the Via 135 stuck to a car's windscreen and turned on. ©CarProductsTested.com2012

Okay, so there are some points we don’t like, but the Vias 135 also has many decent features we love too, such as the rich, high quality display, simplistic settings layout that even your granny could master, and most importantly; easy-to-understand, well-detailed maps which give directions so quickly and proficiently that it’d be extremely hard to miss that all-important turn off.

We also really liked that the VIA 135 includes a park-assist feature, so you know how close to your destination you can leave your car. Supremely useful!

Price

At £149.00, the Via 135 is a mid-range TomTom, and the price matches the unit in terms of screen size, features and quality. However, as with other sat nav systems, you’re going to have to pay to update the maps. TomTom offer a Lifetime Map Update service for £79.99, and we think this would be the cheapest option to go for if you’re planing on keeping your unit for a few years.

Should you want to use your abroad (ours covered the U.K. and Ireland only), take into consideration you’ll have to buy the other maps – and these aren’t cheap at £55 – £70.

Our Verdict

Design & Build 8.5
Features 7.0
Price 7.0
Overall 7.5 / 10

 

The TomTom VIA 135 is a decent unit for the money. The Speak & Go feature is okay, and can be useful at times, but there are also some issues about it we really didn’t like. If you’re in the market for a TomTom with some bells and whistles, but not all of them, this is a good one to go for. However, chuck another £80 into the sat nav fund pot, and you can have the one we’d personally chose – the truly brilliant GO LIVE 825 Europe.

 

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