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Mio P560

  • Editors' rating
    7.2 Very good

Pros

  • 4GB of integrated flash memory
  • SDHC support for high-capacity SD cards
  • Large size may suit those who find smaller devices a little fiddly

Cons

  • No integrated mobile phone
  • Minimal software bundle
  • Average battery life

Mio produced the first Pocket PC handheld with a built-in GPS receiver back in 2004, and has delivered some solid phone- and GPS-equipped Pocket PCs since then. The company is also established as a provider of mid-range standalone sat-nav devices. Mio’s parent company Mitac bought navigation specialist Navman early this year, and the new combination has a strong share of the GPS market in Europe.

The new Mio P560 is a GPS-equipped handheld that can be purchased with or without the company’s own Mio Map navigation software.

Design
In these days of pocket-friendly handhelds, the P560 seems like something of a throwback. It's large and relatively heavy, measuring 117mm tall by 70mm wide by 15.5mm thick and weighing 170g.

The P560's size does provide room for a big 3.5in. screen, which dominates the front of the device. Its 240-by-320 pixel resolution is therefore something of a disappointment: surely VGA (480 by 640 pixels) would be more appropriate?

The on-screen touch icons are also relatively large. If you've tried smaller Windows Mobile handhelds and found your hands too chunky to cope well with the screen, you'll appreciate this.

Windows Mobile Pocket PCs are often button-heavy, but Mio has taken a minimalist approach by locating just two buttons on the front of the device. These are built into a silver strip beneath the screen that runs around the back of the casing, breaking up an otherwise entirely black finish. One of these buttons opens the Windows Mobile Contacts application, while the other accesses the device’s GPS receiver.

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Between the buttons is a mini-joystick for cursor control. This sits in a hollow and when used is illuminated by an orange light. Both are nice design features, but we found the mini-joystick itself awkward to use. Its tip is level with the rest of the fascia, which made it difficult to get much purchase with a finger or thumb in order to push it around. When trying for left, right, up and down movement we often pressed in by mistake, selecting menu options we didn’t really want.

As a result, we generally resorted to prodding the screen, using either a fingertip or the stylus. The latter sits in a slot on the back, at teh bottom of the left-hand side. It's long as styli go at 10cm, but rather too lightweight for our liking.

Features
One of the reasons the Mio P560 is not button-heavy is that it lacks some features we’d expect to see in a modern handheld. There's no camera, which is unusual for any kind of Pocket PC. Nor is there an in-built phone, hence no need for Call and End buttons.

The absence of SIM card support is a rarity these days, and it means that many people will want to carry a separate mobile phone. Clearly Mio believes there's enough of a market to make the P560 a viable product, and it does have a couple of leading-edge features to help bolster its appeal.

For a start, there's a huge amount of memory: our review sample had no less than 4GB of flash storage, and with Windows Mobile Pocket PCs generally maxing out at 128MB or 256MB, this is an extremely generous allocation. After a hard reset our P560 reported 394MB of available ‘flash disk’ storage.

There's also an SD card reader on the right-hand side that's SDHC compliant. This means it can accommodate high-capacity SDHC SD cards. These currently top out at 8GB, but higher capacities are anticipated in due course.

The integrated SiRF Star III GPS receiver is another useful feature, which means the Mio P560 can double as a satellite navigation device. As already noted, you can buy the handheld either with or without Mio’s own MioMap navigation software. Both Bluetooth (2.0) and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) are integrated, with status lights for each just above the screen.

There is a hardware button that turns the device off completely, which a characteristic Mio feature that's rarely found on handhelds from other manufacturers. With this button in the 'off' position, the main on/off switch does not function. The headset connector is, unfortunately, a 2.5mm jack, so you'll need an adapter if your favourite headset uses a 3.5mm jack.

There's little by way of added software to augment the standard Windows Mobile 6 bundle. This is a pity: Mio could have enhanced the appeal of the P560 for business users by adding features like a Zip utility, for example.

Performance & battery life
We tested the Mio P560 by asking it to play music continuously, with the screen forced to remain on. We achieved 6 hours 38 minutes under these conditions, which is a little above the average although not outstanding. Not surprisingly, heavy use of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tends to drain the battery quickly.

As far as ergonomics are concerned, we found the P560 a little large (at least for our small hands). However, this is something that works both ways, and those with larger hands who find today’s Windows Mobile handhelds a little fiddly may appreciate the P560's larger extra bulk.

 

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