Navman or TomTom? We tested the best selling units in a head to head battle to see which would get us home faster and with less hassle.TomTom and Navman have long sought to be the top GPS condenders for consumers in Australia. TomTom in particular have won multiple awards from various publications and that includes our own A-list, for which they have been awarded the last 3 years in a row. Naturally, we decided that the only fair test would be drive the exact same route and see which got us there better and how easy it was to navigate and use the units.
The Navman S150 is the second cheapest of the newly released Navman Platinum S–series range, which also includes the S300t, the S200 and the S100. The form factor on these new units is great; the S150 is light (150g), stylishly thin (13.5 mm) and the 'Super flat' screen is large enough to make viewing maps a breeze (4.3").
The TomTom ONE (known as TomTom ONE V4 in some places and that's how we like to refer to it) is tiny by comparison – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The ONE’s biggest asset is the demure, fits-in-your-pocket size advantage. It’s almost as light as the S150 (174g) but slightly thicker (25mm vs. 15mm on the Navman), lacking the lean contours of the S150’s slick iPod-like design. We’re the first to admit that the ONE's screen is rather small (3.5”) – perhaps too cramped for some. It looks micro in comparison to the S150’s expansive widescreen.
The new TomTom ONE also comes with the nifty EasyMount system, which we can’t say enough good things about. Connecting the unit to your windscreen is a simple procedure – the type we wish other GPS manufacturers would learn to adopt. The suction cap can be carried around with the unit, and it’s still sleek enough to fit into a jeans pocket. The Navman’s suction mount is a hulking piece of equipment and you can forget about stuffing it in your pocket. The design is nice though; the GPS will stay on its bracket, but we feel it’s too big for portability.
This is the area that Navman disappointed us the most. The S150 is an improvement over previous models, but it’s nothing to get too excited about, because the interface is still too painful to navigate. During breaks in traffic, we found it hard to access quick rerouting options - you’ll need to press the screen in exactly the right spot otherwise it could trigger a part of the map or open up the POI directory by mistake. It just a little complex for its own good.
It's even harder to cycle through the Navman menus without needing a fair amount of patience. It took us some time to get used to the many pull-down and pull-across menus that become confusing when you press the wrong spot on the screen.
The S150 touchscreen needs a bit of work too. Navman call it ‘pioneering software with glide touchscreen’, though whichever way one attempts to sugarcoat the finer details, we still found the screen movements a little clunkier and harder to use than the TomTom.
By comparison, the TomTom menu system is probably what makes their models so universally liked. There is nothing difficult about clicking between menus on the TomTom. It’s painless and joyous - praise worth heaping on any GPS.
The ONE touchscreen is excellent: inputing data onto the keyboard appears natural and intuitive. The TomTom models are built around a ‘one-click’ system. Whenever you click on the map, you are taken directly to the main menu, where it’s very simple to find what you need from there.
While the S150 may have more advanced features such as 3D lane guidance and 3D landmarks (nice, but only useful in the big inner cities) – all the extra whistles and bells are worth very little when simple menu functions feel over-complicated. The TomTom ONE is so simple to use, that you should be confident enough to take it out of the box and begin using it immediately after without any hassles.
Navman now use NAVTEQ maps, while TomTom continue to stick with the WhereIs maps. To be fair, we found that there is little to be concerned about with either maps – it’s hard to spot any real differences. Don't be fooled by marketing that tells you otherwise - both map providers are very good and either one will take you where you need to go. In fact, during our testing, the map data was virtually identical for both map providers. Besides, it isn’t the maps which dictate entirely how we get to our destination (although that is a factor) – it’s the GPS’s actual routing engine that handles this area. It’s quite possibly the most important part of our testing.
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