Sunday, March 18, 2012

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TomTom ONE 140-S review

TomTom-ONE-140-S-review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For a list of current TomTom models and their features, please see our TomTom comparison chart.

The TomTom ONE 140-S updates the ONE 130-S with IQ Routes and Advanced Lane Guidance, along with expanded map coverage that now includes Mexico, as well as the U.S. and Canada.

These are great new features for a low-end unit. IQ Routes technology calculates the fastest route using historical traffic speed data for both the day of the week and time of day. The Advanced Lane Guidance feature (shown above), provides a visual representation of highway junctions, along with lane-specific directions. According to TomTom, their Mexican map coverage includes 35% of the 31 states with detailed coverage of Mexico City and Guadalajara, the main road network and 2,431 counties. I’ll cover each of these added features in more detail further down in this review.

Compare prices on the TomTom ONE 140-S

The ONE 140-S offers a 3.5” touch screen and text-to-speech (TTS), so you’ll hear “turn right, Oak Street,” instead of just “turn right,” which is what you’ll get if you drop down to the ONE 140. Step up to the TomTom XL 340-S and you’ll get the same features as the ONE 140-S in a 4.3” wide-screen model.

Two units tested

I ran into problems with the initial unit I received. Part way through the setup process the unit would shutdown and restart. Once this was resolved, I couldn’t enable text-to-speech voices on the unit, even though the files were present. While it was a little time-consuming, TomTom support was able to help me resolve both of these issues. Comparing my experience to consumer reviews posted online, this seemed to be just an anomaly, so I requested a second unit, which gave me no problems.

Portions of the following were adapted from my TomTom GO 740 LIVE review.

IQ Routes

I’ve been impressed with IQ Routes on other TomTom units, so I was looking forward to checking it out on the 140-S. This feature bases routing decisions on historical traffic data, broken down by the day of the week and time of day, the latter in 15 minute increments. What really got my attention was being taken down a locally known and very popular shortcut, completely avoiding the busy four-lane that parallels it.

I tested IQ Routes against the Garmin nuvi 1490T around Asheville, NC, expecting the TomTom to kick the nuvi’s butt on routing. Except it didn’t quite work out that way. I’d say it was more of a draw. Sometimes the nuvi made better routing decisions; sometimes the TomTom did.

But the TomTom was the clear winner in estimating times, so you’d think it would outperform on routing choices as well. The results may be due to limited routing options in a smaller city whose development has been constrained by geography (mountains and rivers). I suspect that the TomTom would perform better in larger urban areas, though that’s just conjecture on my part.

Advanced Lane Guidance(ALG)

In my experience, TomTom (and Tele Atlas) has better lane guidance coverage than other providers — by several orders of magnitude. Take this with a grain of salt though; at least one other reviewer has reported just the opposite. Perhaps Garmin is better in New England and TomTom better in the southeast! I do like the flashing green arrow that draws your attention to the proper lane.

Maps of Mexico

It appears to me that Mexican map coverage is minimal. In the La Paz, Baja California Sur (pop. 189,176) image below, taken from Google Maps (which uses Tele Atlas data) the roads that will show up on the TomTom are in yellow. It’s pretty clear that only major highways are shown.

Google-Maps-La-Paz

TomTom ONE 140-S mount and power lead

I’m not a big fan of the EasyPort mount, though there have been some improvements; it doesn’t pop off the mount attachment point on the back of the device as easily as it did with the first generation mounts, though it still folds into something way too bulky to put into your pocket. But the worst thing is the recessed attachment point for the power lead. It’s a major pain and you have to attach it every time you connect the unit.

TomTom ONE 140-S Interface

Before I wrap things up, I want to discuss a few things about the interface. First, the things I really like:

  • I’ve got a bit of a lead foot, so the fact that you see your current speed and the speed limit on the screen is quite helpful; I especially like that it turns red when you exceed the speed limit by 5 MPH. You can see this in the image below. I just wish you could customize that number.

TomTom-140-S-speeding

  • You can access the volume controls from the map screen by tapping the the left side of the status bar. It’s not that intuitive, but it’s probably something you’ll remember once you know it’s there.
  • When searching for POIs you can page from one POI to the next to view its location on a preview map. To do this you use the arrows on the map, shown on the image below. This is a simple, but very helpful feature.

POI-preview-screen

  • Surprisingly enough, I was much less error prone on this 3.5” unit’s keypad than on the 4.3” wide screen GO 740. Makes me wonder if there were calibration issues with the 740.
  • The map screen grays out when you lose satellite lock the GPS (e.g., going through a tunnel); it’s the sort of minor, but well done touch that I can appreciate

Despite these niceties, there were also a couple of things I didn’t like about the interface:

  • While speed limits were present on all the Interstate highways I travelled, I rarely saw them elsewhere. TomTom’s speed limit coverage clearly lags far behind that found on Garmin units, where it shows up for an amazing number of secondary roads.
  • This is a recurring complaint about Tele Atlas maps; I don’t now if it’s an issue in other states, but in NC they display obscure state and county DOT road numbers instead of the more commonly used road names. In spoken directions, they give both, but give the name last.

TomTom ONE 140-S pros

  • Great ability to customize map screen information display
  • Advanced Lane Guidance
  • Warns when you exceed speed limit by 5 MPH
  • IQ Routes technology almost replaces the need for a traffic receiver
  • Easy to access volume controls from map screen
  • Easy to access recent cities & streets
  • Can page through POI search results on a preview map to easily see their location
  • Built-in safety camera database
  • Automatically powers off
  • Map Share feature allows you to make and share map corrections
  • Icons warn against theft when powering off the device

TomTom ONE 140-S cons

  • Recessed connection for power lead is difficult to use
  • A relatively dim screen that gets washed out in bright sunlight; difficult to see with sunglasses on
  • No simple way to get back to the main menu or map screen when you are several layers deep in menus
  • Does not by default display the name of the next turn (must be set in preferences)
  • Speed limit coverage missing for many major highways
  • Does not automatically power on

More TomTom ONE 140-S reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other TomTom ONE 140-S resources

Compare prices on the TomTom ONE 140-S at these merchants

 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. I used this unit in Mexico and the maps are terrible. No wonder there is no other GPS company using TA maps in Mexico.

    Besides that Tomtom has no support in Mexico or any knowledgable people to provide support for Mexico

  2. Rich Owings says:

    Thanks for verifying. It looked like pretty scant coverage to me.

  3. Tranchin says:

    You have mentioned ‘text-to-speech’ was not working and the support team helped you resolve the issues. I am now exeperiencing the same problem. Could you please tell me how TomTom support resolved this issue?
    Thank you.

  4. They ended up sending me a link to reinstall the entire TomTom application to the device.

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