August 11, 2008

TomTom ONE XL 330/330S Full Review

TomTomONE330SFront.jpg

The new TomTom ONE XL 330 and ONE XL 330S come to the market at a time of intense competition and high expectations for the major GPS makers as they vie to market share and the attention of the millions of shoppers who are discovering the wonders of not getting lost. When you can afford it, there are some nice bonuses to having a widescreen GPS which include a better overall view of where you are going, easier input of data (i.e. your destination's address), and just pure readability of the whole interface. I'll explore the advantages below. I recommend widescreen GPS units if you can afford it.


The TomTom ONE XL 330/330S are the refreshed face of the TomTom ONE line that continues to bring big player GPS features and quality to the market at entry level prices. The units slim down in 2008 with an ultra thin look, and an innovative mount, dubbed the EasyPort. Fold flat profile and a twist to adhere suction mount make the EasyPort different in the GPS world. So, while a widescreen GPS may take up some more room, you won't be penalized too much considering the thin profile of the unit.


With the addition of the "S" designator, you get a nice bump with Text to Speech on this unit, something that I continue to advocate for if you can afford it.


Design - Thin and Easy[port]

CompareTomTomXLs.jpg

It's all right here, right? Big changes are in the design department, and the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S are definitely a nice modernization of the TomTom ONE design. Thin and more modern looks, the units melt away the extra frame around the screen, shrinking the overall unit size and offering the look of the screen floating in space. Overall the unit is very thin, with the speaker mount protruding from the back to accept the EasyPort onto the unit. See the picture here with the new TomTom ONE XL 330/330S compared to the older TomTom ONE XL.

The top of the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S has a flush mounted power button, that is barely perceptible. The bottom of the unit has a mini-USB input for power, through a cord that has a 90 degree turn to it so the unit can sit flush on the dash. I like the casing on the cord because its very flexible and unlike some stiffer cords, doesn't have a mind of its own as to where it wants to lie, poke or stand in the way. No other buttons, inputs or anything to clutter the look.

The EasyPort is comprised of two basic parts, the bezel based suction cup and the ring that mounts to the GPS with a snap. There are three spring loaded tabs on the side of the speaker to lock onto that ring when you snap it onto the back of the unit. The EasyPort can rotate on the back of the unit as these tabs slide along a channel giving you the ability to position the TomTom ONE in almost any position on the windshield or dash-based mounting system. EasyPortClips.jpg I tested the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S with the Arkon friction mount and even with this low rise mounting system, the open front of the Arkon friction mount allowed for the TomTom to sit there unobstructed.

Mounting the EasyPort requires a quarter turn to the bezel, clockwise to mount, counter clockwise to dismount. When you do turn to dismount, the unit doesn't fall off the windshield; instead you need to grab the suction cup tabs on the left or right of the mount to break the suction and get the unit off.

In practice, the EasyPort takes a bit to get used to. It's not immediately obvious which way to turn to get it off, and then still needing to pull the tabs on the side to break the suction doesn't reinforce the idea that the unit is ready to dismount. I also would have liked a tactile signal to let me know which way is mounted and which way is dismounted; perhaps a click at the end of the turn when it's fully engaged?

EasyPortBezel.jpg

With this said, it is not hard to get used to, and mounting the unit and dismounting the unit become easy practice. I tend not to fold and stow the TomTom XL 330/330S when stuffing it under my seat to hide it from thieves, but leave the EasyPort close to the proper angle for use. Mounting and dismounting is a two handed operation, as most mounts are.

Navigation

Navigating with the TomTom is easy, and continues to demonstrate its ability to get you to where you need to go in short order and with confidence. Buyers often go through several stages of confidence building with GPS units, and unfortunately some units fall off and don't ever really make it to "Trusted Status". While up-to-date maps help, there is some mojo-magic in the navigation algorithm that TomTom has and lower tier brands don't.

Entry of your destination is easy and the keyboards are configurable; ABC, QWERTY, and Large or Small. By setting the keyboard to small, you get to see more of the results that are displayed and its easier to pick where you are going from a list of these results. With the widescreen 4.3-inch screen size of the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S, the keys are a reasonable size allowing you to type in your destination without much concern for mis-typing letters. The larger screen also allows you to opt to have the "small" version of the keyboard which puts the numbers along the top row of the letters, just like a regular keyboard. This larger typing surface is one key advantage of the larger widescreen unit. See the image below where I superimposed the smaller standard screen TomTom ONE 130 keyboard over the widescreen TomTom ONE XL 330 keyboard - larger keys make it easier to enter addresses. The screenshots are actual size so if your browser hasn't resized these images - go ahead and put your finger to the screen; you'll see the difference when typing.

TT330_130Keyboards.jpg

TomTom allows you to choose your destinations in several ways:

  • "Home" - You program in your home address and you navigate there at the touch of a button
  • Favorites of yours that you save for easy access
  • A Street Address
  • A recent destination
  • A Point of Interest (POI)
  • Point on a Map - browse on the map and pick out where you want to go.
  • Latitude and Longitude - yea, go ahead and laugh, you'll be thankful you have this someday. I use this method a few times a year, and am glad GPS makers see fit to add this option.
  • Position of Last Stop - helpful when you shut the unit off, park the car and then take the unit with you. You can turn it on and navigate back to where you parked.

Another way to navigate in a way is the pre-planning feature of navigating from "A --> B". This is often found in higher end units, but finds its way to the entry level TomTom's. This allows you to sit in the departure gate of an airport, and pre-plan a route for when you land in your destination city; from the airport to your final destination. Saves time and allows you to figure out how long the trip will take. Very helpful.

Spoken Directions and Text to Speech (XL 330S Only)

The TomTom ONE XL 330S only comes with one computerized (text to speech enabled) voice loaded for US English, which is too bad, but there are others that you can download with your TomTom HOME application that you load up on your computer. The TomTom ONE XL 330S has a variety of pre-loaded non-text to speech voices to choose from. The TomTom ONE XL 330 has the same variety of non-text to speech voices too; in several english accents for fun if you like.

An early and frequent complaint is that the standard screen size TomTom 130/130S is too quiet and that the voice is hard to hear. In contrast the widescreen 330/330S was clear, loud and articulate. I have no concerns about performance on the TomTom ONE 330/330S in the area of volume, or in Text to Speech for the ONE XL 330S.

Review Summary

The new TomTom entry level ONE XL 330/330S comes with the new design that allows for easy stowage and easy packing. The EasyPort mount is overall pretty good; nice design. At first the Mounting and Dismounting takes some getting used to, but once you see how the mount works, it's pretty easy, and the net of it is that it's a plus. Navigation and operating system on the TomTom is solid.

The very real concern area is that the new TomTom 130/130S is that the audible directions are hard to hear (see TomTom ONE 130/130S Full Review Tomorrow). Some people have reported these issues and some folks are fine with it. These concerns are not present in the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S, as it is plenty loud; I would consider the TomTom ONE XL 330/330S as a good contender in the consideration set for entry level GPS units. Performance is far superior to value oriented units, and I advocate for the widescreen units and Text-to-speech which you will find on the TomTom ONE XL 330S.

At Amazon - the TomTom ONE XL 330 or the TomTom ONE XL 330S


What's In the Box - TomTom ONE 330/330S
The TomTom ONE XL 330/330S comes with:

  • TomTom ONE XL 330/330S Widescreen Navigator -
  • EasyPort Suction Cup Mount
  • Adhesive Disk
  • User Guide
  • Services and Accessories Guide
  • USB Cable
  • 12V Power Plug

    TomTomONE330XLInTheBox.jpg

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    Posted by Scott Martin at August 11, 2008 7:20 AM
  • Recent Comments

    I have a Garmin 255W and my biggest beef is that it does not show hardly any street names. You get maybe one or two, most of whicha re not on your path. Can someone tell me if this TOMTOM 330 shows a lot of street names?
    I had a Harman Karden that I thought was a peice of crap but it's better than the Nuvi.


    Posted by: Billy at December 20, 2010 1:29 PM

    I picked up the TomTom XL 330S (My First Vehicle GPS) for a trip from MA to VT, after borrowing my brother's Garmin Nuvi (don't know the model) for a very quick trip from MA to FL and back, during which I found a GPS invaluable. Both have their strengths. I really like the XL 330's main navigation display; it provides a lot more info than the Nuvi, such as expected time of arrival, local speed limits on major roads, and distance to destination, all in one small window. I found the Points of Interest database to be a bit outdated, but mostly on the backroads. Voice prompts were not overly obtrusive, the speaker can be turned up quite high, and it changes volume depending on your travel speed. Mounting the 330s on my Cavalier's windshield was easy and very secure, the twist lock is great! I'd like the option of more TTS voices, and more internal storage, but overall, it got me where I wanted to go accurately and at a reasonable price. I've already recommended this device to friends.


    Posted by: Pete at July 26, 2010 10:21 PM

    I just bought a TomTom XL 330. I thought it would say street names, but I can't seem to get it to do that...can anyone help?


    Posted by: Marcia at June 13, 2010 10:58 AM

    I am extremely frustrated with the map data base. I have been told to turn right/left which would have placed me in a lake, up a private driveway and even where a road didn't exist. I could see from a map that the town I wanted was to the south but tomtom told me to turn north. I contacted tomtom and was told to update my map which it was and map share is also on but nothing has changed. Roads that have been in existence for 40+ years are not in the data base. Has anyone else had this experience. I am thinking of returning it and getting a garmin


    Posted by: Jean at January 6, 2010 11:55 AM

    I just received a tomtom XL 330 for Christmas and I love it. Its really easy to use. However, I had a bit of a difficult time getting the suction cup to cling to my windshield so I could lock the mount but after several attempts its there and its not moving which in the end was the whole point. Another issue that I'm having is the satellite signal. The device (on occasion) takes several minutes (10 minutes +)to find a signal and it also loses the signal quite a bit. I'm not sure what the deal is with that. Has anyone else had that issue?


    Posted by: Amy at January 5, 2010 11:32 AM

    I just received a TomTom XL330s for Christmas and I am very happy with it. As for people breaking the screen while mounting the unit, well at the EDGES around the screen there is a plastic frame, I simply put my thumbs on the plastic frame and from the backside I press the round frame mount onto the unit from the backside, easy and simple.

    It seems pretty silly to buy something then call the manufacturer and admit you broke it.
    A more reasonable suggestion would be to bring it back to the store, report as broken in the box and swap out.

    That way the store ships back to the manufacturer as defective and you dont even pay for shipping.


    Posted by: Sean at January 1, 2010 9:56 AM

    laff@u >>> I wish tomtom would allow one free map update to start fresh.

    They do. Start up TomTom HOME, click on Tools, and select Use Latest Map Guarantee. It's good for the first 30 days you own it.


    Posted by: TulsaDavid at November 28, 2009 4:21 PM

    "NOPE!
    If you press on the screen, you are a dummy."

    Well said sir, well said.


    Posted by: Steve at October 24, 2009 1:39 AM

    I already had a one 2nd edition and my wife kept it more than I, so I bought myself an XL 330S.I like the mounting system it has,and pleased with the way it performs right out of the box.

    I wish tomtom would allow one free map update to start fresh.My unit came needing an update which I did right off the bat,and I d/l the latest updates which were complementery so now its up to date and ready to go.

    I read the above comments about the mounting system and the cracked screens.I had no problem putting the unit in the holder and its very rigid once its there and has good rotation. Why would anyone want to be a hammerhead and forcefully push on an LCD screen? WOW!


    Posted by: CAL at October 11, 2009 2:20 PM

    Hahaha! I'm laughing at all the people who blame TomTom for not replacing there broken devices. If it was damaged & you can see it in the packaging don't buy it...but if you broke it like electronic-prohibitted women(whom you should never buy a car from cause lady-driven means never oil-changed)or old-fart men (who prefer pen and paper to calculators anyways so there is your proof) then it's their fault. It's like the dumbass who screams lawsuit when they buy coffee from a drive-thru spilling it yet the reason why they are in drive-thru is cause they are in a hurry and convenience was a factor why they didn't check the lid with two hands instead of the one arm reach.
    Again hahahaha. Please say this comment is out of line and copy & paste it so I may laugh again!!!


    Posted by: laff@u at September 9, 2009 6:50 PM

    "The last comment was way out of line. A bad example. If installation is a part of product use and the propensity exists of putting pressure on the screen while installing (say, 6 out of 10 will attempt to put pressure on the screen while installing the product) then it is a poor product design. If several people would have injured from broken screen, I am sure Tom Tom would have been nabbed under product liability law suit. Anyway, passing under red light is a moving violation and in no way a compatible example.

    "

    NOPE!
    If you press on the screen, you are a dummy.


    Posted by: john at September 9, 2009 10:18 AM

    I bought the XL 330 last week, and was surprisingly happy to see the ease of install and use. As for the previous comments above on cracked screens and memory usage, common sense tells you that any small LCD device (i.e. laptop, cell phone, GPS device) will crack under pressure when force is applied. And in the event common sense is lacking, the installation manual clearly states to "install applying pressure to the bezel around the screen, not on the screen". Hence the responses from both retailer and manufacturer that they will not replace for lack of common sense and improper installation. The memeory was not an issue either at this point. I updated with new maps, and even added additional voices without any issues. This product is worth the money!


    Posted by: mark1up at July 28, 2009 3:27 PM

    The last comment was way out of line. A bad example. If installation is a part of product use and the propensity exists of putting pressure on the screen while installing (say, 6 out of 10 will attempt to put pressure on the screen while installing the product) then it is a poor product design. If several people would have injured from broken screen, I am sure Tom Tom would have been nabbed under product liability law suit. Anyway, passing under red light is a moving violation and in no way a compatible example.


    Posted by: khas at July 25, 2009 6:57 AM

    I bought a Tomtom 330s and have no problem mounting it. As for asking Tomtom to replace a screen that you broke while installing it is crazy. Thats like buying a new car, driving it off the dealers lot, running a red light and crashing it. Then call the auto maker and tell them they should cover it under warranty. It's time we all started taking responsibility for our own screw-ups.


    Posted by: nick at June 16, 2009 1:34 PM

    I was driving home last week when my TomTom started to smoke. It ruined my cigarette lighter and cinged the power cord. Has anyone else had this happen? Please e-mail me. Thanks.


    Posted by: Chelsea at February 16, 2009 6:36 PM

    Unit Severely Short On Memory

    This GPS unit is out of memory out of the box! I won’t dispute any of what was said above, but be aware that all the voice options, all the help, many of the POI, in short, all the frills that come loaded on your XL when you pull it out of the package take up so much memory that you can’t update the maps with them on the unit. They must be sacrificed in order to download and install any up-to-date maps. This was a great big deal breaker for me… my unit TomTom XL 330s went straight back to the store. The pity is that TomTom knows this and refuses to acknowledge their design flaw. Don’t buy this unit.


    Posted by: Tom at January 3, 2009 7:16 AM

    Two days before leaving on a trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving 2 weeks ago, we bought this TomTom model. I love tech gadgets so even before we left the parking lot of the mall, I had it out of the box and working. It is that easy. Connection with satellites was immediate and with a few exceptions, continued to be so for our entire trip. The max amount of time it ever took to connect with satellites, and this was on an overcast, snowy morning as we pulled out of the motel parking lot, was 2 minutes. The computer voice (the only voice that gives text-to-speech instructions) was clear and loud. The volume is easy to adjust, and I like the feature connecting the volume of the TT to the speed of the car, increasing it as the car goes faster and vice versa. It’s important to choose the type of route desired, in particular fastest or shortest, and be aware that choosing the shortest route often means going down roads that are not the best or are out of the way. The GPS is extremely helpful when looking for motels and restaurants and other points of interest (POI).

    I suggest that a new user play with it a lot. This GPS has a bunch of features that are helpful and fun but are not obvious unless you delve deeper into the many menu choices.

    Is it perfect? Nope but the benefits outweigh the quirks. Connecting the plug to the back of the unit is a pain in the neck. It's tight and at an odd angle. We didn't use the windshield mount because in our pick-up truck the GPS is just too far away. Instead, we bought a beanbag mount and that works great. It sits on the dashboard and never moves. Also, it makes it very easy to remove the unit from the vehicle, or if feeling lazy, put the entire component under the seat of the car, thus out of sight with no indication of its existence. It is still necessary, though, to use the suction cup feature to attach the unit to the beanbag mount, and that too is tight and at an odd angle. Once attached, though, it doesn’t move! The two "issues" I have with the unit do not outweigh the many benefits, and I highly recommend it.


    Posted by: Marla at December 8, 2008 11:22 AM

    I got the TomTom 330S. The mount it easy to use except taking it off remains a small hassle. I don't think you can possibly break the screen unless you are being extremely rough.

    I'm not sure if the NAVTEQ maps are much more accurate but the Tele Atlas maps could be better in my region.

    I would've gone with the Garmin 260W instead to be safe but couldn't pass up on the deal I got on ebay.


    Posted by: JC at October 18, 2008 5:53 PM

    I agree, I recommended TomTom over a Nuvi to my Father. So he got his 330xl on Tuesday and broke the screen Wednesday trying to get the receiver into the new mount. I called too, Dennis at TomTom told me "straight up" there is nothing we can do and they can't even fix it. That of course after trolling all my personal data. They offered me a discount on a new unit, thanks alot TomTom. I told them I would wait for the class action lawsuit.


    Posted by: Tom Roelke at September 17, 2008 4:46 PM

    Only 1GB Memory! US&CAN map 900mb, TTS 50mb + etc... (without adding anything) only 10mb left. For another buck or two put 2GB Memory in there for pete's sake!


    Posted by: vin at August 28, 2008 12:04 PM

    I bought a tomtom (330xl) yesterday for my wife, she tried to mount on
    the window and cracked the screen. Best buy said too bad.Tomtom said
    the same thing,so sad can't help you just buy another one. $250 down
    the tube and no one will stand behind this product.Stay away from the
    330 xl model the friction mounting for the window mount is poorly designed and
    an accident waiting to ruin your day.
    pressing the unit into the mounting bracket already on the windshield gives you nothing to press on but screen, and will break the screen!


    Posted by: rich at August 25, 2008 2:23 PM
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