TomTom Vio sat nav
TomTom’s new ‘Vio’ is claimed to be the first ‘live stream’ sat nav device to be powered by a smartphone. To use it, you download the free TomTom Vio app to your phone, then switch on Bluetooth and follow the onscreen set-up instructions.
It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well, it should have been, but I’m like most men and took the attitude ‘who needs instructions’ – my first mistake! And the first obstacle I came up against was out-of-date software; so make sure you have the correct version installed on your phone (Android version 4.4+ or IOS 9+ on your iPhone) before you start.
Once that little problem was resolved, it was a simple job to download the software and connect to the Vio unit via Bluetooth. Your personal satnav settings are 95% controlled by the phone software, plus a few simple controls on the unit itself. The setup offers most options you’d expect from a standalone satnav unit, including turn-by-turn instructions, speed information (including a screen that changes colour if you’re going to fast), traffic jam avoidance, etc, etc. Also, because your mobile and the Vio unit are linked, you can see who’s calling if your phone happens to ring whilst you’re riding. As well as having the visual instructions displayed, audio is available as well – although you’ll need to either have a Bluetooth earphone system, or cabled earphones plugged into your mobile to hear them.
The unit comes with different mounting options, allowing you to either secure them to your bike’s handlebars, or to your mirror stem – which was the option I chose; so in my case, it was simply a case of loosening the two clamp nuts, placing the clamp in my preferred position on the mirror stem and then tightening it up. Because I’d chosen the mirror stem option, I also needed to undo the satnav mount screw in order to rotate the mount to the correct screen angle needed to read the display easily. Once this is done, the Vio just clips into place easily.
Also supplied with the unit is a charging cable; TomTom claim the Vio has a battery life of five hours, so it’s your choice as to whether you use the supplied charger or not (personally on short journeys, I prefer to avoid dangling leads if possible). And remaining on the subject of charging, don’t forget that you also have the mobile phone charge to consider, so on a long journey you could need two charging sockets fitted to your bike.
With the unit mounted, it was time to go riding to try it out. The tip here is to set-up the system before you put your riding gloves on (unless you have mobile-friendly gloves). Once that’s done, you can put your phone in your pocket and forget about it. You can make some adjustments on the Vio unit itself – but again you might possibly need to remove your gloves to do so.
With a mini mirror-sized unit, the screen is obviously not that big, but it still provided enough advanced information to perform its’ task as intended and the information displayed was big enough to read with the naked eye, even when viewing through a tinted helmet visor. I tried the Vio out on several different routes under both day and night conditions and it never let me down once. The only slight issue I had was that it seemed to want to stay in daylight mode, making it very bright at night. Maybe it’s a set-up thing – I did try the auto switch button, but it didn’t seem to work for me (ah well, back to the instructions)…
The TomTom Vio unit is available in a variety of colourways, so there should be an option available to match the colour of your bike. And at a price point of £149, buying this unit shouldn’t break the piggy bank and it’s a useful piece of kit that is well worth purchasing.