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<a href="http://www.halfords.com">Halfords</a> might sound like an unusual company to be selling a Pocket PC, but it's doing precisely that, with an all-in-one navigation solution from successful German company <a href="http://www.medion.co.uk">Medion</a>.
Moderate Pocket PC specification (lacks Wi-Fi and Bluetooth)
some irritating issues with the navigation software
Halfords might sound like an unusual company to be selling a Pocket PC, but it's doing precisely that, with an all-in-one navigation solution from successful German company Medion.
Small at 7.1cm wide by 11.4cm deep by 1.3cm high, and tightly designed, the MDPPC 250’s general sleekness is marred slightly by over-sized application shortcut and navigation buttons (possibly designed to be easily hit by drivers without taking their eyes off the road). It's a shade heavier, at 124g, than the lightest Pocket PCs we've seen.
The 3.5in. TFT screen is bright and the edges of the device are bevelled to emphasise its diminutive dimensions. The headphone socket is thankfully at the top of the casing, alongside the SD card slot and the hole for storing the very flimsy stylus.
The MDPPC 250 has a moderate specification for today's Pocket PC market. The processor, a Samsung S3C2410 running at 266MHz, is fast enough; 56.62MB of the 64MB of RAM is available to the user; and although the battery is removable, if you buy a spare you'll have to charge it via the device itself -- you don't get a cradle with a charging slot, as in many competing devices.
However, the box does include all you need for in-car navigation: a car mounting system; a stylish and very small GPS receiver with a Velcro strip for attaching it to the dashboard, and the MEDION-Navigator software.
The navigation software and maps of the UK come on a 256MB SD card, of which 145MB is free and therefore available for your own data. A CD contains a backup copy of the navigation application and maps. The only other software that Medion provides is a ROM-based backup utility.
The MDPPC 250 lacks Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and with the SD card occupied by map data it's impossible to add these while retaining the navigation capability.
The route planning software has some nice features, such as the ability to plan and view a route before travelling, and a pop-up toolbar that can be used for zooming and dropping into night mode (the screen colours are actually easier to read all the time in this mode). Installation is easy too, as the required file is on the SD card. Simply find it, click on it, and the software installs independently of a host PC.
But there are also some irritating features. Although it links into Pocket PC Contacts, the navigation system seemed unable to locate any addresses on its maps, so that we had to use the manual look-up system every time. This has its own problem: you must start a search by inputting either a town or a postcode, as there's no street-level searching. Choose a larger code or a big town and there's a significant wait -- presumably as the next search section is populated with data (searches on smaller towns have shorter delays).
Battery life was average, too. Our usual MP3 loop test delivered 3 hours and 23 minutes of music, and 4 hours 17 minutes of life. In-car power will be delivered directly, of course, but battery life may disappoint when the device is unplugged.