TomTom Via 220 GPS unit

The TomTom Via 220 is a basic navigation unit that lacks some advanced features, but provides a pleasant user experience

TomTom Via 220
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Attractive and user-friendly interface
  • Compact design with integrated mount
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • No Bluetooth hands-free
  • Sometimes slow to recalculate route
  • Screen sometimes requires a forceful press

Bottom Line

TomTom's Via 220 may be a basic, entry-level GPS unit, but unless you critically require Bluetooth hands-free functionality, we highly recommend it over more expensive models like the Via 180. An attractive, easy-to-use interface and a positive navigation experience make the Via 220 excellent value for money.

Would you buy this?

TomTom's Via 220 GPS unit is an entry-level navigation device. It lacks features such as Bluetooth hands-free and voice control, which can be found on the slightly more expensive Via 180, but it nevertheless remains excellent value for money, and provides a user-friendly navigation experience.

TomTom Via 220: Design and user interface

The TomTom Via 220 has a basic, but relatively attractive design. The plastic build feels sturdy and well constructed, and the screen is recessed into the bezel protecting it from scratches when placed in a glove box or other compartment in your car. Both the speaker and the power button are built into the rear of the unit, and the speaker is loud and clear.

The TomTom Via 220 includes an integrated mounting system. It allows the unit to tilt in multiple directions, and the circular lock system makes it easy to quickly attach and remove from a windscreen. The Via 220 doesn't require excessive force to mount, and didn't fall off our window during testing. It's definitely one of the best mounting systems we've seen on any portable GPS unit.

TomTom GPS units are well regarded for having an easy-to-use interface, so it's no surprise that the Via 220 offers a great user experience in this area. It borrows almost the same look and feel from the previous, high-end GO 1000 and GO 1050 units. Features include rounded edges on selection boxes, the ability to make your own customised "menu" on the map display, and an excellent on-screen keyboard to aid text entry. However, while the Via 220's 4.3in resistive touchscreen is large and clear, it often requires a forceful touch to operate. This is most evident when using the keyboard to enter an address.

TomTom Via 220: Navigation

Once you've selected a destination, the TomTom Via 220 displays the fastest route available using IQ Routes and allows you to alter the route if necessary. Here you can avoid a roadblock, calculate an alternative route or travel via a waypoint. The IQ Routes technology used by TomTom is based on real-life user data rather than the traditional maximum speed method. It determines a route by considering all possible routes and then selecting the one that supposedly takes the least time, with the technology aiming to avoid main roads where necessary. In our experience, the TomTom Via 220 still preferred to calculate routes using main roads rather than backstreets that are often faster, though this is an issue that's occurred on every GPS unit we've tested.

TomTom claims the use of "QuickGPSfix" technology to boost the time it takes for the Via 220 to gain a GPS fix, and the results are impressive. Generally, the Via 220 doesn't take longer than 30 seconds to gain a fix — sometimes it got a fix in well under 30sec. Unfortunately, the Via 220 is sometimes a little sluggish when recalculating a route if you take a wrong turn: it often takes over five or six seconds to do so.

The TomTom Via 220 is an entry-level product with a low price, so it naturally lacks some more advanced features like Bluetooth hands-free, voice control, and 3D landmarks. However, only Bluetooth hands-free is missed — 3D landmarks is little more than a gimmick that adds nothing to the overall experience, and voice control is largely a hit-and-miss affair on other TomTom models.

The TomTom Via 220 has text-to-speech technology, which means that it speaks the names of streets as you approach them. The unit pronounces Australian street names relatively well thanks to an Australian text-to-speech voice, though it sometimes struggles with pronunciation. Fixed speed and red-light camera warnings are standard features, as is advanced lane guidance. On multilane roads, an icon in the bottom-left corner of the map screen highlights which lane you should be in, depending on your destination. This feature really comes into its own at busy highway junctions — arrows indicating the lane direction are combined with a static, detailed image of road signs. The signs are the same colour as the ones displayed on the road, in order to minimise confusion.

The TomTom Via 220 has a battery life of up to three hours, but it's annoying that TomTom doesn't include an AC charger in the sales package. You'll have to charge the Via 220 via the included USB cable or cigarette lighter adapter.

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