On the main screen's submenu, the Sound icon only serves to mute or unmute the Ease's audio; volume control is located in a completely different menu. The day/night button manually switches between the Ease's color schemes. The Help button brings up the "Where am I?" menu that displays your current location and nearest cross streets, as well as quick links for phone numbers and driving directions to the nearest emergency services. Clicking options brings up device options and, subsequently, advanced options; the Done button returns to the live navigation map.
The live navigation map doesn't differ much in aesthetic from other TomTom devices. In the upper corners are buttons for zooming in and out of the map. Along the bottom edge are information fields for speed, direction, destination information, etc. Clicking anywhere in the map area returns the user to the home menu.
Even though the Ease is TomTom's entry-level navigation device, it still benefits from some pretty advanced features. Starting with the text-to-speech engine, the Ease will read street names aloud when giving turn-by-turn directions.
The Ease also features TomTom's IQ Route's technology, which uses historical anonymous speed data to create time-sensitive routes, and TomTom's Map Share free user-generated map corrections network. TomTom's Home software is where the updates for these services are downloaded/uploaded; it also manages points of interest, custom routes, and map updates.
The Ease performed rather well during our testing, tracking our location on single-lane mountain roads and with heavy tree coverage. When we tested the Ease in the urban canyons of San Francisco, the tiny little GPS device held fast to our location, even in known GPS trouble spots. Although the device wasn't able to perform miracles and keep a GPS signal through the longest of San Francisco's tunnels, it was intelligent enough to know that we were going underground and estimated our position using the known speed limit. Emerging from the other end, satellite lock was immediately reacquired with nary a "lost reception" warning.
Notably, the TomTom Ease actually lived up to its estimated 3-hour rechargeable battery life and completed most of our testing process on battery power alone. Though we're sure that most navigators will use their Ease while plugged into the included 12-volt charger, being able to leave the cables behind for short to moderately long trips greatly enhances the Ease's portability.
At an MSRP of $119, the TomTom Ease is a steal. We've often criticized TomTom for its complex and confusing interface, so the Ease's simpler--dare we say, more Garmin-like--menu structure is a huge step in the right direction.
We like that the Ease packs features such as text-to-speech and TomTom's advanced routing technologies into a package that is both smaller and simpler than the TomTom One 140 S. The Ease is also less expensive than its $139 stable mate, but that lower price comes at the expense of advanced lane guidance, maps of Canada and Mexico, and presumably a few thousand points of interest preloaded in the database.