An extra-big, 6-inch touch screen -- at a reasonable price -- helps the TomTom Via 1605 TM grab enough expert recommendations to earn a runner-up spot. Unfortunately, navigation isn't as rock-solid reliable as Garmin's, reviewers say. Critics prefer Garmin car GPS systems overall. If you can swing the extra price, they recommend stepping up to the 5-inch Garmin nuvi 2597LMT (Est. $220) or 7-inch Garmin nuvi 2797LMT (Est. $285) , which are easier to use and voice-commandable.
Works fine for some users -- but not for others. In some tests, the TomTom Via 1605 TM navigates just fine. PCMag.com's Jamie Lendino calls it "accurate," and another source rates it "very good" at routing -- on par with the latest Garmin car GPS systems. But in Rich Owings' test at GPSTracklog.com, the menus are sluggish. And once you bury yourself in them, there's no fast way to get back to the map or main menu. "This made the device fairly painful to use," Owings says. Once, the TomTom mistakenly thought he was on an adjacent road. One in three owners at Amazon.com (and a few at BestBuy.com) also report problems with routing, satellite lock and map updates -- though at least they're free for the unit's life.
Missing a few. To get the price down on this big-screen GPS navigator, TomTom dropped a few features -- and testers miss them. There's no Bluetooth and no exit guide (to tell you what restaurants, etc. are available). The 1605 TM can't automatically sort multiple destinations into the best route either, though you can manually add up to three extra stops to a route. It does have a pedestrian mode, which Garmin has dropped from its latest car GPS models. Like Garmin, TomTom includes free no-ad traffic alerts. It's TomTom's standard traffic, which doesn't update as often as its newer HD Traffic (not available on this model), but it works well in tests.
No voice commands. The TomTom's big 6-inch touch screen is a matter of taste. Lendino likes it, but another source finds it too big for cars (yet not big enough for RVs). It's sharp, and touch commands work well in tests (no pinching and swiping, though -- tapping only). It announces turn-by-turn directions, but it's not voice-commandable. Unlike Garmin GPS devices, the TomTom Via 1605 TM has a built-in mount. It folds flat to the back of the unit, making it easy to carry, but it does add a couple of ounces.
Solid features for the money -- but reviewers still prefer Garmin. The TomTom Via 1605 TM does pack a lot of features for the price. Still, you can get a nearly-as-big 5-inch screen and more consistent performance from a like-priced Garmin auto GPS unit-- a brand that earns consistently better expert recommendations in every category of car GPS systems.
Testers thoroughly evaluate more than 100 car GPS systems, including the TomTom Via 1605 TM. Each GPS navigator is scored on its ease of use, routing, info for driver, mount design, display and traffic interface, with an overall score. Individual write-ups are short, but they do list pros and cons for each model.
Review: TomTom Via 1605 TM, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
The TomTom Via 1605 TM packs a lot of features for the price, navigates well and is easy to use. It does omit a few features -- like Bluetooth -- but Lendino likes it enough to name it an Editors' Choice.
Review: TomTom Via 1605 TM, Jamie Lendino, June 18, 2012
3. GPS Tracklog
The TomTom Via 1605 TM doesn't make Owings' recommended list. Its menus work sluggishly in his test, making the GPS system "fairly painful to use."
Review: TomTom Via 1605 TM Review, Rich Owings, Sept. 5, 2012
The TomTom Via 1605 TM gets mixed reviews here. Most of the more than 250 owner-reviewers like it, but roughly one-third give it a mediocre or low rating -- often because they can't get it to update, lock onto satellites or route correctly.
Review: TomTom Via 1605 TM, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
Owners here give the TomTom Via 1605 TM higher marks -- 4.2 stars overall after more than 100 reviews. Still, several report the same problems as owners at Amazon.com.
Review: TomTom - Via 1605 TM, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of October 2013