The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional is the latest portable GPS satnav device from Tom Tom. It has a bright clear screen, but if you need to arrive on time, don't rely on the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional.
Tom Tom has built a reputation for itself that it can't live up to. At least, that's our impression. Tom Tom's imitators are many and the term Tom Tom has become synonymous with portable satellite navigation, but having tested several Tom Tom GPS products in the range, we're loath to recommend them above other brands. The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional is a good example.
Many people don't realise that the basic maps on which European satnav products are based are just about standard. TeleAtlas – the same company that does the mapping for Google Earth – is the gazetteer of choice for UK and western European maps. So what really distinguishes one satnav product from another is how this software is implemented, the points of interest the company has chosen to include, the choices you can make about your route and how easy a device such as the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional is to use while you drive.
Extras such as TMC (real-time traffic updates) and maps to take you further afield are useful but are really add-on features you'll choose to buy or not. The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional is described as Traffic-Ready and, as long as you have a Bluetooth phone to sync it with and stump up for a subcription, will work with the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional. You can also buy maps of specific countries or a 1GB card of western Europe.
All this is as it should be, but we found using the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional a bit of a worry. The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional's 4.3in widescreen is too heavy for its cradle. The inflexible cradle of our Tom Tom ONE XL Regional review model actually snapped and couldn't be positioned just so. The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional's screen is glare-free and very clear and has a functional touchscreen, so glancing at it to confirm we were on the right track while driving was no problem.
But too often the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional wanted us to make U-turns on dangerous dual carriageways so we could obey its orders and head for the nearest motorway – something we weren't keen to do when there were far more convenient A roads that were also more direct. We tried using different program settings, but the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional was having none of it. You can tell it to avoid toll roads, but not motorways.
When we did need instructions, the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional was busy recalculating routes. The Tom Tom ONE XL Regional does this efficiently enough, but far too frequently. Pull in at a petrol station or make some other very minor deviation and the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional starts replotting.
The crowning glory was when the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional jumped from taking us to a specific road in Cheshire – we told it anywhere on the residential road was fine – to another neighbouring road and then randomly decided that, actually, it would take us to the hamlet many miles off our route far from the road it was named after.
The first we knew of this unscheduled deviation was when the Tom Tom ONE XL Regional directed us off the A1 and down a dirt track. It then transpired we'd gone 50 miles too far north and were almost two hours behind schedule. Not good when we were guests of honour at a surprise family get-together.