TomTom has come along way since its inception in Amsterdam in 1991, with 3 different styles of satellite navigation system, and many different format invocations. Their name has become synonymous with ‘sat nav’. Yet with the maps and directions on our Smartphones, who actually needs anything else? It is time we redress the balance! The humble satnav is a valuable asset.
First and foremost, it is a dedicated navigation tool with a much more sophisticated mapping system inside. The screen is larger, the sound louder, and it is always in your car. No cursing yourself because you have forgotten your mobile or it has died and, heaven forbid, you don’t have the charger! With the TomTom Via range, you have a whole set of features to shout about. Read on to find out how our review of the TomTom Via 53 fared, and if it is indeed any good.
We talk mapping, route planning, and that all important question… how to avoid pesky traffic jams! Plus a few features of this device that might just save your life and cease distractions! Are you as intrigued as we are?
What is the TomTom Via 53?
Pretty much everyone on the planet has a smartphone by now. However, if you don’t like to use up your data or need it freshly charged for your destination, a sat nav is great. And while you want to ensure you are getting a good product, the price should be right too. This is what the this TomTom have given us, with a range of features and services that will help you to your destination with ease.
We need to get one thing off our chest at the top of this Tomtom via 53 review. The device doesn’t actually have its own built-in data connection. It does, however, have built-in wi fi relies on connection to your mobile data to function. Having said that, the device is very efficient! Around 1 hour use per day is only like to use 7MB per month of data. And so it becomes a great budget option that works in tandem with smartphone. For a seamless experience, connect to smartphone via the downloaded MyDrive App before you start your journey. you can also use this app on your laptop or tablet to plan your trip before you get in the car!
It is these kind of features that allow you to concentrate on the drive ahead. Allow the Via 53 to read text messages aloud via the in-built speaker and mic system. This allows you to receive calls via hands free calling to the device too, whilst also connecting effortlessly with your smartphone’s personal assistant Google Now™ or Siri. Lock your phone away safely, and forget distractions!
The 5 inch screen size is large enough that you don’t have to squint, and the touchscreen allows you to zoom as and when you need. This is very enjoyable to use as, similar to a smart device, touch and gestures can be light. The screen resolution of 480 x 272 pixels is fairly decent, though not a match for the high end competitors. However, the brightness level is incredibly good in a variety of bright ambient light settings. The menu settings and icons are also easy to navigate, and set up is a breeze! Inside, the Lifetime Maps feature gives you a lifetime of free map updates, changing automatically via wi fi. And these maps cover 45 European countries, including the UK.
Within the maps software, you receive live traffic updates, and alerts on upcoming speed cameras and changing routes. Whilst the speed camera service is free for first 3 months, however, users will be charged at £20 a year after this to continue.
But no matter! Your TomTom sat nav will literally steer you away from traffic jams in real time. Plus, your personal traffic checker shows your preferred routes and how much traffic you are likely to see on your drive for that day. Users can also change the setting to choose their preferred language. And the Via 53 supports almost 60 languages for both voice command and user interface. Measuring 9 x 14.4 x 2.4cm, and weighing 218 Grams, it unfortunately isn’t the most compact of devices. However its not overly cumbersome, and once installed in your car it becomes a very useful part of the furniture.
How does the TomTom Via 53 differ from the TomTom Via 52?
While the Via 52 has a fair few features that set it alongside the 53, it is the additions that make the latter worth the minimal extra cost. Whereas the Via 52 only covers a handful of European countries, the 53 covers the whole of Europe and the UK.
Another minor but marked difference: the resolution size and touchscreen are the same, but the touchscreen on the 52 is a resistive touch screen. This means you have to apply a certain amount of pressure to the screen to get a reaction. As the 53 has a capacitive screen, gestures and swipes can be a lot more subtle. Like using a smart device, you can change settings and zoom in or out with ease.
Both have bluetooth and handsfree calling. Both have a memory card reader and take Micro SD, with the TomTom Via 53 in this review holding 16GB internal memory.
What is also available to these models is RoadTrips by TomTom. This is a great route planning device that simplifies your travel plans. Plan your trip from a wide selection of great routes across the UK and Europe, and customise them as you go! During the review, we found the TomTom Via 53’s touchscreen a doddle to use. Switching maps and alternating you route as you go, all without difficulty and in seconds!
Is the TomTom Via 53 the best Budget satnav?
There are many features that make the TomTom via 53 a pleasure to review. This new model is built with the modern driver in mind, taking into consideration all the things you need to make your busy life easier. Its easy to navigate, and safety conscious! It also the benefit of good value, for what it has to offer.
Traffic information updates are always on, the maps update via wi fi without having to connect to a computer, and this is a lifetime promise! You also have that three month trial period for the speed camera alerts. Plus the tactility of the touchscreen far outweighs that of the Via 52.
It is true, you can expect to get only around an hour of battery life. This is not a dealbreaker however as you can use the lengthy cable to connect to USB or via the cigarette lighter. Another caveat is that the device can be slow to start up, and it is a rather cumbersome design. We must also remember that there is no built-in data connection. Something other high-end sat nav devices have. However, with a projected 7MB of data being lost from your smartphone in 30 hours drive time, this is a pretty decent cop! And it acts as a surrogate for your smart device, meaning less distractions.
There are other options in the TomTom range, like the Go 620 which has 3D building rendering, lifetime traffic and speed camera updates, and an upgraded magnetic mount. However, this will cost you a bit more cash, and while the bells and whistles can be great, but it really comes down to whether you feel the extra cost is worth it. Anyway, the best way to be a conscientious driver is to stick to the speed limit. So, as long as you are following this golden rule, you wont need those markers.
Which satnav is best? TomTom or Garmin?
This has been a long fought battle between Garmin and TomTom. And whilst Garmin have held their own throughout the fight, we have to admit TomTom come out on top. And that is not just because we are reviewing the Via 53 here!
Yes, Garmin models are able to work with both Siri and Google personal assistants, and overall their menu seems easier to navigate. This cannot be denied. But where TomTom really excels is in the mapping. Images are clean and easy to make sense of, with no lag time. The abundance of live updates whilst travelling really help to ensure as smooth a journey as possible. Plus, when approaching a junction or roundabout, the device’s automatic zoom is a valuable asset. The lifetime mapping updates are also a lovely touch!
With TomToms partnering with trip advisor, you can also be sure to have all the best points of interest mapped out for you to see. See something you like and want to stop to check it out? You can do all of this in real time, bringing some spontaneity back to your road trips!
TomTom Via 53: Is It Any Good?
We have looked at every side in our review of the TomTom Via 53. And we have to say, this is actually a well put together device! While it doesn’t have its own data connection, it doesn’t use too much data and has a lot of great features. And OK, so you wont be able to keep the initially free feature of speed camera marking, but you can pay £20 per year for it after the initial 3 month trial.
Overall the battery life isn’t fantastic, and it feels a little blocky, these are just finicky little details. These caveats do not do much to dim the light of the TomTom Via 53. With superior mapping, light and easy gestures on the touchscreen, voice control and smartphone sync, you have the power of a multi-functional sat nav device. Lock your phone away on long journeys, safe in the knowledge that you can still take those important hands free calls! Reducing distractions whilst driving and avoiding those discretionary glances at your smart device. This might not be the king of sat navs, but it certainly has style, flair and value in its arsenal. And peace of mind to boot!