TomTom Ease GPS Goes Back to Basics

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With the Ease, TomTom has trimmed the fat from its more elaborate GPS devices to offer a small and simple navigator. Its 3.5-inch LCD touch screen presents users with two oversized buttons: “Plan route,” and “Browse Map.” Enough said.

But there are a few advanced features worth mentioning as well. IQ Routes is a smart system for calculating the duration of your trip, taking into account the actual drive times of other TomTom users. Both the time of day and day of the week factor into the trip duration, so even though the Ease doesn't have live traffic information, you'll get an idea of how long it takes to drive into Manhattan during rush hour.

Another feature, called Map Share, lets users alter the information on their maps. Say, for instance, a street name changes, or it becomes a one-way road — users can immediately enter in those changes and they'll stay that way. It's also possible to request that new roads be added by entering the start and end cross streets on the map. TomTom's editors review these requests for their quarterly map updates.

Other features include text-to-speech for voice navigation and a “Help Me!” screen for accessing emergency providers.

TomTom says the Ease is targeted at people who've hesitated to pick up a GPS device because they seem difficult to use. To me, it also seems like a solid option for people who want a dedicated GPS device but can get more advanced features, such as real-time traffic, weather and business listings, from their phones.

Company representatives were vague on price and release date, but they suggested a ballpark of $99 to $120 in early 2010.

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