August 12, 2008

TomTom ONE 130/130S Full Review


The new TomTom ONE 130 and ONE 130S come to the market at a time of intense competition and high expectations for the major GPS makers as they vie to marketshare and the attention of the millions of shoppers who are discovering the wonders of not getting lost and actually getting to where you want to go without stopping, backtracking or imagine that, asking for directions at a gas station. The TomTom ONE 130/130S 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. 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]

It's all right here, right? Big changes are in the design department, and the TomTom ONE 130/130S 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. Maybe it's because I have been dealing with so many widescreen units lately, or maybe it's the ultra thin design, but the TomTom ONE 130/130S is like a little toy, floating on the windshield. It's too bad the unit needs a power cord, because it looks great hanging in space.

The top of the TomTom ONE 130/130S 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 long a channel giving you the ability to position the TomTom ONE in almost any position on the windshield or dash-based mounting system. I tested the TomTom ONE 130/130S 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?

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 130/130S 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.


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 standard 3.5-inch screen size of the TomTom ONE 130/130S, things get pretty small when you want to get a QWERTY keyboard set to small; I would not recommend it. In the image to the right, you can see that one side is the QWERTY keyboard, while the other is the "ABC" keyboard layout. Jamming in the QWERTY keyboard shrinks the keys and makes them very small. I recommend the ABC style; a little tougher to input text, but better accuracy when tapping. This is one trade-off that you make when opting for the standard size screen unit.

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 (130S Only)

The TomTom ONE 130S 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 130S has a variety of pre-loaded non-text to speech voices to choose from. The TomTom ONE 130 has the same variety of non-text to speech voices too; in several english accents for fun if you like.

TomTom ONE 130/130S Speaker Volume Issue

An early and frequent complaint is that the TomTom 130/130S is too quiet and that the voice is hard to hear. I found this to be true in my use; I could hardly hear the unit while driving, with the windows up and the stereo off; forget any other situation. In fact I tested the TomTom ONE 130S versus the ONE XL 330/330S to see how they compare. I set the the TomTom 130S at 95% volume level (a little too garbled at 100%) and then tested the TomTom ONE XL 330S to see at what volume level they were the same loudness. The result was that I could set the TomTom ONE 330S to a 50% volume level and the two sounded equally loud.

Review Summary

The new TomTom entry level ONE 130/130S 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 is tough, 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. 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; consider upgrading to the widescreen if you heart is set on the super thin, EasyPort based latest from TomTom. See my Full Review for the TomTom XL 330/330S.

At Amazon - the TomTom ONE 130 or the TomTom ONE 130S

What's In the Box - TomTom ONE 130/130S The TomTom ONE 130/130S comes with:
  • TomTom ONE 130/130S standard screen Navigator -
  • EasyPort Suction Cup Mount
  • Adhesive Disk
  • User Guide
  • Services and Accessories Guide
  • USB Cable
  • 12V Power Plug

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Posted by Scott Martin at August 12, 2008 7:48 AM

Recent Comments

Having used this device I can't see buying one over a Garmin or Magellan. In theory it has a great set of features. In reality the menu system seems very random. There seems to be no logic to Tomtom's menu layout. I dislike that you can't zoom out when looking at the moving map. Yes, you can zoom out to about city level but not far enough where you can tell where you are between two cities on the freeway. It also automatically zooms back in after a few seconds.
The point of interest database is large but works poorly. It doesn't search far from your target location. By target location I mean either current location, end destination, along route etc. When it gives you a list of potential matches it only says distance to the point, it doesn't indicate direction. Unlike the Garmin or Magellan, it doesn't guess what you mean very well. "Wal-mart" vs "Walmart", only one will find the store. Even worse, when searching for "Zaxby's" the unit had some locations spelled "Zaxbys" and others spelled "Zaxby's". The only way to know you would find the place is enter "Zaxby". Given the small search area and the naming issue above I found the POI system to be vastly inferior to those used by Garmin and Magellan. The soft keyboard has small buttons and no audible feedback when a key is pressed. The Magellan is particularly nice in this regard as the system says the letter or number you just pressed. It might seem a small thing but it makes typing easier because you can look for the next button rather than look back at the entry line to see what you are typing.
The map pan and zoom system is also very poorly done. Rather than letting you pan and zoom right from the main map, you must enter the second page of the menu system. The zoom slider is frustrating as it is very easy to move it farther than you wish. What is wrong with the +/- buttons used on the main map?!
The software does have a few good points. I like that I can customize the main screen. The unit boots up quickly (a flaw of the Garmin) and has no delays or software glitches.
While the software end of things was lacking, the hardware end is great. The unit is small and the window mount system is wonderful! The whole thing folds against the back of the GPS. This makes the unit and mount near pocket sized. If you move the unit from car to car the mount is far better than those used on other devices. If you leave the unit in one car at all times this advantage isn't worth as much.

Posted by: Smith at August 21, 2009 10:28 AM

The speaker volume issue was not a problem with mine. I have read-up on it & found that it was a manufacturing problem; the the speaker cone needed to be >popped

Posted by: Jon at July 2, 2009 1:29 PM
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