Voice recognition is a technological dream that we all feel our devices should be capable of - even our sat navs. Are we ready for our in-car companions to listen to us while we're out and about?
Movies and novels have had us talking to computers since the 60s, while recent advances with Apple's Siri, Google Now, Samsung's S Voice and more have had us trying to trick our phones with our speech. But can a voice input help when you can't take your hands off the wheel to change your destination? TomTom certainly hopes so in its latest entrant to the sat nav market, the voice-controlled TomTom Via 135.
TomTom calls its voice recognition system Speak & Go, and this is the main selling point of the TomTom Via 135. Before we get on to the particulars of the voice recognition side of things, it's worth spending a little time looking at the rest of the package.
The TomTom Via 135 is a 5-inch car satellite navigation device that offers up maps for the UK and Ireland and makes use of TomTom's IQ Routes technology, which makes it scarily accurate at predicting when you'll arrive at your destination. It's also good at avoiding congested routes if there's a faster route available.
The unit itself is pleasingly designed, boasting the same no-nonsense dark plastic casing that can be found on the likes of the TomTom Start 60 and the TomTom Go Live 825. The only difference over previous models is the small hole in the top right-hand side of the screen that is home to the microphone.
The mounting system used by TomTom is to be commended for its compact design and surprising flexibility in use. It actually works better here than the TomTom Start 60, thanks to the unit's smaller size - we didn't have an issue reaching the power button or the USB connector here.
The mounting suction cup adheres to the windscreen well, and despite the screen requiring a firm touch to navigate menus, we haven't had the TomTom Via 135 come loose during testing.
The suction cup itself is connected to the main unit by a small ball-jointed arm that can fold out of the way if you want to slip the TomTom Via 135 in your pocket once you reach your destination - leaving temptation out of harms way for would-be thieves.
You'll still need to stow the USB charger and cable in your car's glove compartment, but these are standard items and are relatively easy to replace should your car get broken into. This cable is also used to connect the unit to your Mac or PC for map updates and for new firmware.