The TomTom One Slim Edition is positioned as the company's entry-level model, but is a very worthy option that includes the best elements of more expensive models without all the functions that aren't normally necessary in a GPS device. The original TomTom One managed to beat its rivals in both value and performance, so let's see how the new slim model fares.
A brand new look for TomTom's popular One portable GPS navigator sees the device shrink in size, measuring just 96mm by 82mm by 25mm and weighing in at just 174 grams. TomTom still managed to squeeze in a touch sensitive 3.5-inch LCD screen with 320 x 240 pixels and 64,000 colours. Its anti-glare feature is a must for the harsh Australian sun but makes the screen look dull at times. The device is housed in a stylish silver case that makes the previous generation look dated, and it stores perfectly in your pocket when used as a hand-held device.
A new mount design matches the stylish look of the Slim Edition, and is compact and unobtrusive when attached to your car's windscreen. However, the short arm wasn't as manoeuvrable as many competitor models and we couldn't get the screen to angle directly towards us.
Inside, the Slim Edition features an integrated GPS antenna and SD card slot for plugging in the latest maps. For in-car charging, TomTom has provided a charger that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. We've started to see some models come out with separate AC chargers but you can still charge the device with the included USB cable that hooks up to your PC.
GPS duties are handled by the highly sensitive SiRFstarIII GPS chipset combined with a 266MHz processor, which is down on the 400MHz chips that many other models are using. One of TomTom's highlights is their simple to use menu system, that's made even easier with the useful onscreen tips. Choosing a route has the options of quickest, shortest, or avoiding toll roads and congestion charge areas plus you can even plan a route based on a desired arrival time.
Whilst driving, the unit's volume automatically adjusts depending on the speed of the car and there's also the option of displaying a compass on screen to help your orientation. The Slim Edition has access to TomTom's PLUS services, which includes safety camera alerts, weather reports and the new Buddies feature, which combines instant messaging and navigation that you can use to locate your friends.
When at home, users can link the device with a PC or MAC using the included TomTom HOME software package, where they can download routes and review the trip or install new maps onto the SD card. The One does have Bluetooth to connect it to your mobile phone, but this is only for downloading data to the device, not hands-free calling. It seems that TomTom has intentionally hobbled the One so you have to buy a higher priced model if you want calling capabilities.
Applying the mount to the windscreen was simple but the relatively short arm wasn't as manoeuvrable as we would have liked. Getting the device to face us directly was unachievable but at least the connection was strong. Removing it was quick thanks to the lift up tab on the suction cap. Acquiring a satellite was very quick, and after entering our destination the route calculation took less than 30 seconds for a two hour journey though the busy streets of Sydney.
We feared that the slower CPU could disadvantage the new TomTom but we found it to be very good. Once our destination was entered, the device gave us a fairly over-optimistic arrival time but it did pick an effective route. Voices were clear and audible and has a handy feature of adjusting their pace and volume with the speed of the vehicle. Whenever we missed a turn, we'd normally receive a request to complete a U-turn instead of a straight forward recalculation, which would have been preferred seeing that it's often impossible to do a legal U-turn.
When it does recalculate, which takes some time, you've normally missed some turns before the device has finished its calculation. This can get annoying when you're running late and in unfamiliar territory. The Lithium ion battery has about two hours of battery life from a single charge, which isn't much of a problem thanks to the car-charger.