The TomTom Via 135 may not be the most exciting satnav around but the no-nonsense gadget proves that the brand knows what it's doing
The TomTom VIA 135's styling may be low key to the point of anonymity. But it's a solid, highly refined piece of kit with plenty of attention to detail.
TomTom VIA 135: Features
A great example is the neat integration of the charging port on the rear of the chassis. It's cleverly designed to prevent the cable from limiting your installation options. Then there's TomTom's honed and polished interface. It hasn't changed much in recent years other than minor updates to the graphics and tweaks including a change to QWERTY style keyboard.
Generally, then, it's very basic on the features front. It's a pure navigation device without connectivity features or online apps. As for extras, you're limited to TomTom's speed camera database. And that's about it. What you don't get is any live services, not even rudimentary RDS-TMC based traffic data.
For that you'll need to fork out another £50 for a receiver. Likewise, there are no IP-based services such as Google Local Search.
That said, you do get sports TomTom's new Speak & Go voice control feature, too, which gives you verbal access to pretty much all the major features. It sports resitive rather than capacitive touch technology, too.
TomTom VIA 135: Screen
With a five-inch diagonal, the TomTom VIA 135 certainly doesn't skimp on screen size. The actual resolution of 480 x 272 pixels, on the other hand, does smack of cost cutting. It doesn’t prevent clearly legible mapping. But it is a reminder of the entry-level status of the VIA 135.
That said, as functional as the interface is, it does look a little dated and dowdy, especially compared to the swish transparencies of devices from the likes of Navigon.
TomTom VIA 135: Performance
Navigation is ultimately about utility not showbiz moves and there's no doubt TomTom delivers excellent usability. That starts with clear and legible maps and probably the best lane guidance in the business.
Then there's the natural language audio navigation prompts which, again, are as good as it currently gets. The VIA 135 is also a generously proportioned five-inch model, so screen size isn't an issue.
In practice, it's one of two areas where the VIA 135 disappoints. To achieve reasonable accuracy, you have to speak very deliberately. Even then, errors are common. It's irritating enough that we doubt you'd use it much in the long run.
Then there's the old-school resistive touchscreen. As this type of technology goes, it's very good. But with the first navigation devices with capacitive touch now appearing, the VIA 135 feels like a throwback.
TomTom VIA 135: Maps
With such a low resolution screen, the mapping quality is never going to win awards for detail and drama. But there's no issue in terms of legibility. Both top-down 2D and pseudo 3D on offer, too. As for territories covered, UK and Ireland is your lot. You'll have to pay extra for European maps, but then this is a sub-£150 device.
TomTom VIA 135: Verdict
This is a straight forward navigation device without fancy features. But it's reasonably priced and it gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. If it's pure navigation without the frills, you can't go wrong with a TomTom.
TomTom VIA 135 price: £149
TomTom VIA 135 availability: available now
Review by Jeremy Laird