Route planning is as simple as this sort of thing gets.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
GPS prices reach $200 level for first time

Oct. 21, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, The Post-Standard

   I've got good news if you've been waiting for GPS receivers to become affordable. TomTom, which makes some of the most highly rated global-positioning devices, has dropped the price of its TomTom One model to about $200 at some discounters. Other GPS makers are likely to follow in advance of the holiday shopping season.
   The TomTom One still sells in its original price range of $400 to $500 at some stores, but a bit of sleuthing using a search engine should locate discounters that are selling it for half price. Best Buy was selling the Model One for $199 in September and Staples had it for a dollar more, for that month only.
   A quick search shows Circuit City (www.circuitcity.com), TigerDirect (www.tigerdirect.com) and Crutchfield (www.crutchfield.com) selling the TomTom One for $229.99 this month.
   Half-price discounts are not unusual when manufacturers want to clear out one model to make room for a newer one. But the TomTom One sale is the first time an advanced GPS unit has reached the market at such a low price.
   The TomTom One is about the size of a bar of soap and can be used in a vehicle -- it comes with a 12-volt automotive power cord -- or carried as a hand-held device. It has a 3.5-inch backlit color display and a built-in rechargeable battery to power it when you're using it away from your car, boat or motor home. It can be plugged into a Windows PC or Apple Mac using the USB cable that comes with the unit, both for charging the device away from the vehicle and for updating its maps.
   When it's connected to a computer, the TomTom One's maps and routes can be backed up, and you can download extra maps and narrator voices from the TomTom Home Web site. Also available are POI (points of interest) locations for stores, shopping centers, gas stations, rest areas and the like.
   Route planning is as simple as this sort of thing gets. You type your destination into the TomTom's touch screen, using an on-screen keyboard, and that's it. A color map, shown in your choice of roadmap-style 2D or flyover-style 3D, displays the route, and a friendly voice tells you what turns to make.
   TomTom One always knows where you are, but finding your location might take a few minutes the first time you turn it on. From that point on, the GPS unit keeps track of your whereabouts flawlessly -- as long as you are outdoors, without many obstructions.
   I found the TomTom One to be accurate to within about two feet most of the time. I tried out four of five of the voices and settled on a male voice that could be heard clearly over the sounds of our motor home. A low-tech suction cup comes with the TomTom One for attachment to the windshield, but I've got a winter project lined up to mount the unit more permanently on the dashboard. (TomTom sells a mount for this purpose, and also has an external antenna that you can mount on the roof of an RV or boat.)
   As an avid bike rider, I also liked the way TomTom One can be switched to bicycle and pedestrian mode. The bike routes avoid high-speed roads and busy highways, and pedestrian mode keeps you out of the path (and fumes) of city traffic.