TomTom One 130S review: TomTom One 130S

Starting at $150
  • Recommended Use automotive
  • Features 2D / 3D map perspective, TMC (Traffic Message Channel) ready, TomTom PLUS ready, TomTom PLUS ready (via Bluetooth), downloadable POIs, optional external GPS antenna connection, speed limit warning
  • Navigation Software & Services TomTom HOME

Roadshow Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7

The Good The TomTom One 130S offers text-to-speech directions and ease of use. The portable navigation system also has a compact and simple design.

The Bad The system's speaker volume is low, making it very difficult to hear the voice-guided directions.

The Bottom Line The TomTom One 130S is a reasonably priced entry-level GPS with a solid set of features and ease of use. Unfortunately, the system's barely audible voice directions ruin the experience.

The TomTom One 130 and TomTom One 130S mark a new beginning for the company's line of basic GPS. You still get TomTom's hallmark ease of use and community features, but the portable navigation systems now boast more compact designs as well as a new vehicle mount that can be easily and neatly stowed away with the device. The One 130S (the subject of this review), also includes text-to-speech functionality, which is nice to see in an entry-level device, and it's reasonably priced at $249.95. However, during our road tests, we discovered that the speaker volume on the One 130S is incredibly low and we could barely hear the voice prompts. And if you can't hear the directions, what's the point of the GPS? It's truly unfortunate since the TomTom One 130S is an otherwise solid navigation system for first-time buyers.

Design
The TomTom One 130S marks a new look for the One series of portable navigation devices. Unlike the previous models, including the TomTom One 3rd Edition, the One 130S has a more bubbly design, and it's smaller and lighter at 3.6 inches wide by 3 inches tall by 0.9 inch deep and 5.2 ounces.

In addition, TomTom revamped the vehicle mount and made the foldable accessory small enough that you could fit the whole contraption in a coat pocket, even with it still attached. The mount consists of a circular ring that attaches to three clips on the back of the device, and then an adjustable arm with a suction cup mount at the end (dashboard disc included in package). There's also a twisting lock to ensure a tight seal with your windshield. The entire apparatus is, indeed, neat and compact and while we had some initial concerns about the vehicle mount, it actually did a good job of holding the unit in place. We traveled over some bumpy roads, and the GPS didn't budge and the suction cup kept a secure seal with our windshield.


The TomTom One 130S comes with the new EasyPort car mount.

On the front, there's a 3.5-inch, 64,000-color QVGA touch screen with a 320x240 pixel resolution. Admittedly, the screen size is a bit small, but maps and text looked vibrant and clear on the display, and we were able to see it in various lighting conditions. Like most GPS, the One 130S can automatically switch between day and night map colors, and you also get the option to choose from several color themes.

The One 130S doesn't have very many external controls (a sole power button on top and a mini USB port on the bottom), so most of the device's operations are handled through the touch screen. It's responsive but given the smaller screen size, the onboard keyboard is fairly cramped. We do appreciate that you can switch the format from alphabetical to QWERTY, and unlike the Sony NV-U83T, the One 130S has predictive entry, so as soon as you enter letters for a state, city, or street, it will automatically start to fill in the word and list possible search results, which is a huge time-saver. TomTom's user interface is intuitive enough that you can probably use the device right out of the box without cracking open the user's manual. There are two main menu pages, and the icons are large and clearly identified with their function.

The TomTom One 130S ships with just the basics, including the aforementioned vehicle mount, a car charger, a USB cable, and reference material.

Features
The TomTom One 130S delivers a great feature set for first-time buyers and minimalists--the most essential navigation tools and nothing else. The system comes preloaded with maps of the United States and Canada, 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 130S is capable of calculating directions in numerous ways, including quickest or shortest route, with or without toll roads, and so forth. There are also pedestrian and bicycle modes. 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. The GPS can handle multidestination trips as well, so you can plan trips with multiple stops along your route.

The One 130S has a database of 5 million points of interest (POI) with 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. 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 130S offers voice-guided turn-by-turn directions with text-to-speech functionality. This means you'll hear actual street names instead of more general instructions (for example,"turn right in 100 feet"). We're big fans of this capability since the specific directions allow you to pay more attention to the road instead of the GPS screen, and we're happy to see it in an entry-level device like this.

While the above are the core functions of the TomTom One 130S, there are some additional goodies. Like the most recent TomTom GPS, the One 130S 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 if you're in a spot, especially in unfamiliar territory.

The One 130S also has the Map Share feature that first debuted in the TomTom GO 720. Map Share allows you to make adjustments to your maps (such as noting blocked roads, updating POI, adding new streets, and so on) and then share the information with other drivers. You can make the changes right on the device, save them, and then upload and share them with other users via the TomTom Home desktop companion. You can also download changes made by other TomTom users. At last check, Map Share had more than 1.5 million users, but if you prefer, you can opt to only download data verified by TomTom experts. Finally, you can get traffic updates on the One 130s, but you will have to purchase the RDS-TMC traffic receiver, which goes for around $130.

Performance
We tested the TomTom One 130S in San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took the unit about 3 minutes to get a fix on our location under clear skies, while subsequent starts took about a minute or less. While driving around the city on everyday errands, the system did an accurate job of tracking our location and didn't lag behind, unlike some other GPS we've tested.

As usual, we also entered our standard trip from the Marina district to CNET's downtown headquarters. Having just reviewed the Sony NV-U83T, where we struggled with the slow trip-planning process, the One 130S was a welcome relief with its predictive entry and overall seamless process. After entering all the information, the One 130S quickly calculated a route. Before setting off, we reviewed the text-based directions and found the directions to be accurate. Once on the road, we missed several turns to test the route recalculation rate, which was swift and got us back on track. However, we ran into a problem during our testing, and it was a big one--we could barely hear the voice prompts. We turned off our radio, rolled up our windows, and cranked the volume to its highest level, but even then, it was a struggle. The One 130S is even supposed to have an enhanced speaker system, but we certainly didn't see it. Sadly, this makes an otherwise solid GPS almost useless.