- ✓Maps of 24 European countries pre-installed
- ✓live traffic information included as standard
- ✓MP3 player, photo viewer, Bluetooth and contacts synchronization included
- ✕Does not have a widescreen format and map views are a little cluttered
- ✕screen sometimes slow to refresh
- ✕the menu system may take a little getting used to
Mio has been steadily building a name as a purveyor of both standalone navigation systems and Windows Mobile devices with built in navigation capability. Here we look at its latest standalone device.
Mio was responsible for the first Pocket PC with a built in GPS antenna, and more recently launched the A701, a Windows Mobile Pocket PC with phone support and a GPS antenna built into the casing.
Recently the company launched two Pocket PCs with integrated GPS antennae, a new version of its MioMap navigation software (both of which we will look at shortly), and a trio of stand alone devices the C710, C510E and C510.
The C710 has built in European maps and supports live traffic information and as the flagship model is the one we chose to review. The C510E has UK mapping and the major roads of Europe pre-installed. Europe wide maps come on an accompanying DVD for user installation. There is no live traffic information support. This costs £239.99 (inc VAT). The C510 is identical to the C501E but comes without the DVD. Its pricing and availability have not yet been confirmed.
The Mio C710 is a very compact device. Where others, such as TomTom with its GO 910 and NavMan with its iCN 720 have recently produced relatively large kit, Mio has tried to keep things more tidy. At 170g and 110mm x 70mm x 20mm the Mio C710 could even be described as pocket sized.
The most obvious trade off here is the C710’s small screen. At 3.5 diagonal inches it is smaller than those in the most recent Navman and TomTom devices. While it is rectangular, it lacks their very wide screen format, offering 320 x 240 pixels of viewing area. Its 65 thousand colours are perfectly adequate for use in vehicle.
Styled almost entirely in black, at first glance the Mio C710 looks more like a personal media player than a navigation system. A column of four buttons along its right hand short side is built into a rubbery surround, their functions defined by icons on the front of the casing which are separated from the main bulk of the front by a thin strip of silver. They would have been better designed as solid buttons rather than ‘bumps’ you depress with a finger. They worked well enough, but feel a little low grade.
This bank of buttons provides access to the only features that do not require you to tap the touch sensitive screen. They offer quick access to volume control, power on/off and your contacts. The Mio C710 can synchronise with Outlook, and carrying your contacts is one of several ‘added value’ features.
The bottom edge of the casing contains a mini USB port for connection to mains power to charge the internal battery which Mio says should provide for 4.5 hours of screen-on navigation, and for administering power from the car power cable provided. This edge also contains the 3.5 mm jack for the live traffic information antenna. This jack doubles as a socket for a headset, so unfortunately you can’t use a headset and have traffic information at the same time.
On the upper edge is an SD card slot. This can be used for music (the device plays MP3s) and for pictures (it can display these on its screen). The speaker is on the back of the casing.
The Mio C710 attaches to a vehicle by a sucker style attachment with a long swan neck. This proved very effective on test, allowing us to twist the device into a convenient viewing position easily. The FM antenna necessary for live traffic information has two suckers allowing it to be mounted in a position where it won’t obstruct view, though we found it worked perfectly adequately simply left unfurled and dangling from the bottom of the main device.
Along with a mains power adaptor, car power adaptor and car mount the Mio C710 comes with USB to PC cable, solid protective pouch with belt clip, cycle mount, stereo earbuds, wrist lanyard, FM antenna (for the live traffic information), printed quick start guide, and two backup DVDs containing maps, software and detailed documentation.
Features and performance
The core of the Mio C710 is its navigation capability. It comes with maps of 24 European countries built in: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City.
We were able to test the kit in the UK and during a trip to Brittany in France. We were very impressed with its ability to locate a small (three house) hamlet which we had been unable to find on all but the smallest scale paper maps, and to navigate us to it perfectly. So were our guests.
There are many different views you can opt for while traveling. Two map views are available, one, called ‘map’ allows the roadmap to occupy the full screen area, overlaying some tappable icons which let you get to the GPS status, traffic information and zoom into and out of the map itself.
The other is called ‘cockpit’ and puts a panel on the left of the screen offering information such as distance to destination, direction of next turn and so on. It also offers tappable icons laid onto the map itself, and the screen is a little cluttered in this view. There are also several turn by turn views available.
In terms of navigating to destinations, the Mio C710 performed well. The SiRFstar III antenna worked without a hitch during our trip, as did the live traffic information service. It is possible to set the Mio C710 to automatically route you around problems it identifies, and we found this useful. Spoken instructions were loud, so again, no problems there.
We made use of the speed limit warning system to give a verbal warning when we exceeded the limits on different road types, and found this very helpful.
The Mio C710 runs MioMap v3, an updated version of Mio’s navigation software. You can use full seven digit postcodes as destinations in the UK, but you have to be in a ‘country overview’ mode to do this. Select a city and you then have to enter a street name then building number rather than a postcode. Every town we wanted to go to was in the city list. You can also enter latitude and longitude.
Map updating and in particular zooming during travel was a little jerky at times. We had the device set to always have north pointing upwards, and it seemed to be rather slow at both zooming and reorienting the display when we were going through complex intersections such as large roundabouts.
As noted earlier you can synchronise contacts from your PC. Do this and you can use contacts as destinations for a trip as well as using the Mio C710’s built in Bluetooth with your mobile phone to initiate voice calls. There is also a numberpad for dialing calls and the C710 offers facilities like mute and the ability to switch between using the speaker on the Mio C710 and your handset. Bluetooth can also be used for file transfer. You can exchange files with a PC using the provided cable and an application Mio supplies on DVD for the purpose. The built in MP3 player (MP3 format only) and photo viewer (JPEG only) can access data stored on SD cards or copied into the main memory. There is also a built in calculator and unit converter which includes currency conversion.
We can’t fault the Mio C710’s ability to navigate us from one place to another which it did consistently well. Of the added features, the ability to act as a handsfree kit for mobile phones is also very appealing.
On screen clutter and a sometimes confusing menu system left us a little nonplussed, but a navigation system that can get you around Europe at this price is not to be sniffed at.