Product review: TomTom One XL

12 Jun 2007

With Father’s Day looming there can be nothing better to stem the heartache of a looming mid-life crisis than a Sat Nav device, the big boy’s toy of choice in the 21st century. In the past, when a bloke lost a few hairs he bought himself a car, joined a gym, or took up Kung Fu.

But in this age of technology, DIY and gas-guzzling SUVs, knowing where you’re going by using a Sat Nav is a handy catharsis for lost youth. Major retailers know this and these devices have been selling like hotcakes.

The first Sat Nav device I ever reviewed weighed a ton and was best suited to the cabin of a truck than a three-door hatch-back.

However, since then they have been getting smaller and smaller and boast additional features like MP3 players and help you find nearby services like petrol stations, hotels and restaurants.

For increasingly frayed nerves on a long business or family trip finding these resources easily is a balm for the soul, no doubt.

The TomTom One XL for Europe is a widescreen Sat Nav device that is larger than most of its contemporaries on the market today. It comes pre-installed with maps for Western Europe on 1GB internal memory and has an extra large 4.3-inch touch screen.

Another bonus is the inclusion of the TomTom RDS-TMC traffic receiver which links with Tom Tom radio receivers and can warn motorists of impending traffic gnarls ahead.

However, judging by the nature and state of Irish roads even learning of a traffic jam ahead is too late because you’re most likely stuck on a one-way system and can’t do anything about it.

While the size of the device is a setback it has a fairly sophisticated and intuitive touch-screen and from the minute you switch it on you can start getting directions.

The device can link with several satellites at any one time and I was surprised by its detail and accuracy when arriving at junctions.

On set-up I was highly amused by the choice of different voice prompts for directions that I could choose from. There was Lisa (Deutsch), Jane (English, UK), Catherine (Francais), Martha (Espanol), Tim (English UK), Mandy (in English from the US) and Ken (English, Australian) among others.

I was devastated there were no Irish accented prompters such as Fionn from Foxrock (‘turn royht, roysh’) or Anto from Artane (‘ah Jayziz ya missed the bleedin’ turn again’) or Grainne from Glanmire (‘I said right, boyee’).

All in all, the device is intuitive with quick and easy instructions so it’s hard to get lost anywhere any more. The mapping imagery is vivid and crystal clear.

The size of the device is compensated by good sound volume and a very responsive touch-screen. Expansion to include other geographies such as Asia, Australia and the US can be catered for by an expansion card slot underneath the device.

An Ireland and UK version of the device is available in most electronics retail stores for €369.99 while the TomTom One XL for Western Europe costs €419.99.

Pros: Intuitive and quick to learn

Cons: Larger than most Sat Nav devices available today

By John Kennedy