Editors' note: Portions of the Features section was taken from our review of the TomTom One 130S since the two GPS share similar capabilities.
The TomTom One 125 isn't the newest or flashiest portable navigation device on the market, but that's OK. Not everyone needs the latest or greatest. What the One 125 offers is a solid, entry-level GPS for first-time buyers or for those looking for the most basic navigation functions. Similar to the TomTom One 130S (except it doesn't include Canadian maps or text-to-speech functionality), the GPS is easy to use and affordably priced at $179.99. There are some trade-offs, of course. For example, you get a 3.5-inch display instead of a 4.3-inch screen and, as we noted earlier, you don't get text-to-speech functionality. However, it delivers where it counts, with accurate tracking and clear, audible directions.
One thing you'll notice about the TomTom One 125 right out of the box is its simple and compact design. It's similar in shape to the TomTom One 130S, measuring just 3.8 inches wide by 3.2 inches tall by 1 inch thick and weighs 6.7 ounces. It's small enough that you could hold it in your hand for navigating on foot or mount it to a bicycle, and the GPS has pedestrian and bicycle routing modes as a bonus.
On front, you'll find a 3.5-inch WVGA touch screen. With a 64,000-color output and 320x240 pixel resolution, the picture is pretty sharp, though the display is on the smaller side. After having reviewed a number of 4.3-inch models recently, the One 125's screen looks particularly tiny. Still, we were able see maps clearly and read the menus easily. The user interface is simple and intuitive, with two main menu pages and large, easy-to-understand icons. Under the Preferences menu, you'll also be able to change map colors, adjust the position of the status bar on the map screen, choose night mode, and more.
The onscreen keyboard is slightly cramped given the smaller screen, so we did make some errors while inputting addresses. The good news is that the One 125 offers predictive text, so it will start to surface possible results as soon as you start entering letters. We appreciate that you can choose between QWERTY and ABC format, and there's also an option to switch from a larger keyboard to a smaller one, though we can't imagine any reason why you would want to do so.
There's not much else to the PND. On top, you'll find a power button. A mini-USB port/power connector is on the bottom of the device. The speaker is located on the back with the brackets for attaching the car mount.
The TomTom One 125 comes packaged with an EasyPort vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a USB cable, a car charger, and reference material. The EasyPort car mount is the same as the one included with the TomTom One 130S. The accessory consists of a large circular ring that attaches to the back of the GPS and an adjustable arm for securing to the windshield or dashboard disc. To ensure a secure seal, there's also a knob to lock the accessory in place.
The EasyPort mount doesn't look particularly sturdy and we did encounter a couple of problems on the road. We used the dashboard method--since technically windshield mounts are prohibited in California--and for the most part, the GPS stayed in place, but there were a couple of times when we drove over some rough parts of the road and the One 125 popped out of the cradle. We understand that TomTom wanted to keep things simple and small, but we'd take a larger accessory if it meant more security.
Like the rest of the company's One series devices, the TomTom One 125 offers the basic navigation features in an easy-to-use package for first-time buyers and minimalists. The system comes preloaded with maps of the United States only, and you can enter your destination by address, city center, zip code, or intersection. Alternatively, you can choose a location from your Favorites or Recent destination lists and automatically route home from your current location by touching the Home icon.
The One 125 offers various routing options, including quickest or shortest route, with or without toll roads, and so forth. As we mentioned earlier, there are also pedestrian and bicycle modes. Once you've entered your trip, you can review the itinerary on the map, as text-based directions, or get a running demo. If at any time you want to avoid a part of your route, you can tap the "Find Alternative" icon to get new directions. The system also supports automatic route recalculations and multidestination trips.
The PND's points-of-interest database includes all the major categories, including ATMs, gas stations, and lodging. Sadly, you can't search for restaurants by cuisine type. If you have more specialized interests, the catalog also features entries for beaches, campgrounds, cultural centers, and more. There are various ways to plot to POI: you can search for them along your route, near your destination, or near home.
You can view maps in 2D or 3D mode. A status bar at the bottom of the screen displays useful information, such as the distance and direction of your next turn, remaining distance, and estimated time of arrival. If you crave more or less information, you can customize what is shown on the status bar under the Preferences menu. Tapping the left half of the status bar (where your next instruction is displayed) will repeat the voice directions and give you access to the volume control. There are also two icons in the upper-right and upper-left corners that let you zoom in and out of maps.
In addition to the visual cues, the TomTom One 125 offers voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, but unfortunately, unlike the One 130S, you don't get text-to-speech functionality. This means you'll hear more generic instructions, such as "Turn left in 100 feet" instead of specific street names. Even though the One 125 is a basic system, we still would have liked to have seen the inclusion of text-to-speech functionality.
There are some additional goodies. Like the most recent TomTom GPS, the One 125 includes the "Help Me!" safety feature, which gives you access to a number of tools and information in case of an emergency. For example, there's a "Where am I?" function that will give you your current location, longitude and latitude, and nearest intersections. In addition, you can find the nearest police station, hospital, car repair shop, and other services with just a tap of the screen. It's very handy and gives you a bit of peace of mind, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory.
We tested the TomTom One 125 in San Francisco and Los Angeles. From a cold start, it took about two minutes for the GPS to get a fix on our location under partly cloudy skies, while subsequent starts were much faster. As we drove around San Francisco, the unit did a good job of tracking our location and keeping up with our movement. It was also able to keep a GPS fix as we drove through the Financial District, where tall buildings often block a clear view of the sky.
We used the GPS on two trips: one from San Francisco to Los Angeles and the other from the Marina District of San Francisco to CNET's downtown headquarters. We entered our start and end points on the first journey, and the One 125 returned with a route in less than a minute. Though the route was pretty straightforward, the PND smoothly guided us through several highway interchanges, especially in Los Angeles as we neared our destination.
We experienced similarly positive results on the second trip. The TomTom One 125 offered accurate directions and, unlike the TomTom One 130S, we were able to hear the voice-guided instructions with no problem. They were loud and clear, but again, we wish it had text-to-speech functionality. Finally, we missed several turns along the way to test the route recalculation rate and the GPS was able to get us back on track quickly.