- Small and light
- available standalone or bundled with a GPS receiver and navigation software
- Poor battery life
- average specifications
- no built-in wireless
So far this year, Mitac has released the Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-equipped Mio 558, the Mio 168 with its integrated GPS receiver and the Mio 8390, a Windows-powered smartphone. Now comes the Mio 336, a Pocket PC handheld that's available in two flavours from Evesham -- either standalone for £179.99 (inc. VAT), or bundled with a GPS antenna and CoPilot navigation software for £299.99 (inc. VAT).
Put the Mio 336 and the Mio 168 side by side, and the two devices are remarkably similar: the main difference is that the Mio 336 is slightly darker in colour and, more importantly, lacks the flip-up GPS antenna found in the 168. Measuring 11.2cm tall by 6.9cm wide by 1.8cm high and weighing 118g, this is one of the smallest and lightest Pocket PCs around. The four application shortcut buttons are based on twin rockers that sit on either side of a joypad. Both the rockers and the joypad are on the small side -- this is a handheld for people with dainty fingers and thumbs. An SDIO-compatible SD card slot sits on the upper edge of the device, while the power button is on the upper left edge. The headphone connector is a 2.5mm mini-jack, so you’ll either need a converter for standard sized 'phones, or you’ll need to use those supplied in the box. Either way, the jack's position -- at the bottom left edge -- is awkward for anyone who wants to carry the Mio 336 in a pocket and listen to music.
The Mio 336 is powered by Intel’s PXA255 running at 300MHz, and there is 64MB of RAM -- of which 62.82MB is available to the user. There is no flash ROM area to store data. These somewhat middle-of-the-road specifications are precisely the same as the Mio 168's. Mitac’s ROM-based software bundle includes the Mio Utility, which can be used to adjust processor speed and conserve battery life; eBackup, which makes backups to SD cards; E-Viewer for viewing and writing/drawing on images; and Mp3Player, an adjunct to Media Player with its own equaliser and a plethora of presets. Again this suite replicates that found in the Mio 168. If you choose to buy the £299.99 (inc. VAT) navigation version of the Mio 336, the product box includes a GPS antenna, cigarette lighter power adapter, car mounting kit and navigation software in the shape of CoPilot 4 Lite from ALK. This is a slightly cut-down version of the CoPilot Live software that ships with the Mio 168. It has street-level mapping but lacks some of the features of CoPilot Live, including no safety camera alerts, no mode for walkers and fewer routing options. The software runs from a supplied 128MB SD card.
We had no difficulty using the CoPilot navigation software and appreciate the clarity with which maps are presented on-screen during a journey. As a standalone device, the Mio 336 is distinctly average though, and we were rather disappointed by the battery life in particular. Performance here was weaker than that of the otherwise very similar Mio 168: looping MP3s with the screen always on and the Mio Utility set to run the processor in ‘Auto’ mode delivered just 2 hours 38 minutes of music and a total of 3 hours 7 minutes of life.