Mio Technology C320

Mio C320 Satnav
 
As an avid Mobile Business reader you’ll obviously remember that we’ve reviewed two previous Mio satnav units over the past couple of years.
 
The first was, well, disappointing to say the least; the second, a vast improvement and represented good value for money. The guys and girls at Mio must be proud of their new units as they sent us a C320 shortly after it was launched in mid-May for the infamous Mobile Business destruction test ….

After ripping the packaging open to find our new toy there where a few gasps and looks exchanged between the editorial team: “ooh, that’s a Mio? What happened to the chunky styling?” and “that’s beautiful that is”. Which sound strange coming from a hairy, ham-fisted giant of a man looking lovingly at an inanimate object.

The styling of the new range is exquisite, it looks stunning. Simply put – it’s uber cool.

This product can and probably will in some instances be sold on design alone. That’s it, job done, review over – it’s that good.

Perhaps not; we get paid by the word, so I’ll write some more.

Unlike our initial testing in days gone by we decided to ascend from our subterranean den before switching the unit on (no one had told us GPS signals don’t reach underground).

Attaching it to the car uses the seemingly standard suction holder thingy. But unlike previous versions this one’s a docking station which the detachable cigarette lighter power cord attaches to. A simple design tweak allowing you to detach and unattach the unit without getting tangled up in it, making it particularly easy to remove it from view when you’re parked up.

We’ve been known as Mio haters in the past, but credit where credit is due, once fired up the C320 is the quickest to get a GPS signal from a ‘cold start’ to date. And the display on this unit is as well thought out as the styling; the C320’s split-screen offers a wealth of information, such as time and distance to destination the next four manoeuvres and POIs (petrol stations) amongst others.

The 4.3in ultra slim widescreen is the best performing we’ve tested so far. A touchscreen as we have come to expect, it showed no finger marks. It has fantastically sharp, bright and clear resolution with none of the stretched neck aches associated with other products we’ve tested that suffer from terrible glare on a summer day – remember those?

Unlike previous incarnations of Mio’s software, this one allows further useful information to be permanently toggled on/ off with a single screen touch, even with sausage fingers. On older units it used to be displayed only for about five seconds.

The first test route was London to Folkestone … and this is where the problems started.

As with most systems nowadays you can save your home and business address for quick click routing. After we’d entered and saved these details, the C320 easily found the Chunnel details from its pre-installed POIs. With a quick tap on the link the screen displayed our destination – bingo, simplicity itself, very intuitive, good work, off we go.

As with all our GPS tests we purposely ignore the on-screen and voice instructions to see how long the satnav takes to reroute you to your destination, so with this in mind we drove off to the M25/M26 before we started taking any instructions.

Hmm. As soon as we reached the M26 junction the C320 asked us to continue straight ahead. Thinking it was taking us on to the M20, we obliged. Halfway to that turnoff the gruff male voice instructed us to come off at the next junction—which was interesting, perhaps it’s spotted a jam or there’s a shortcut we don’t know about, so up the slip road we went.

A mile on we realise we’re heading back towards London. In its defence we never read the instruction manual – who does? The Mio was routing us back to the office as this was the last confirmed destination. Although the C320 had showed us the Chunnel’s position after we’d selected it from the POIs, it requires a further confirmation that this is indeed your intended destination—which in hindsight is quite useful and stops you driving to John O’Groats when in fact you’re off to a meeting in Basildon (but that’s another story with a different piece of kit). After a quick click on the POI and a confirmation click on

‘Route to’ we’re off on our way again.

From here on in the C320 performed perfectly, taking us from the M25 slip down to Folkestone, from Calais down to Paris with a few waypoints in between – Champs- Elysées, Eiffel Tower and then back to London without a hiccup. Note to self, must read the instructions from now on.

This unit comes with the latest TeleAtlas maps for 22 Western European countries preinstalled and a speed camera database which we imagine covers all these countries as well. It certainly worked in France, with a repetitive beep which becomes quicker as you approach the camera and a high-pitched wail if you’re over the prescribed limit for it.

Although we didn’t look at the online community site, apparently you can download updates for the speed camera database including the sites which have been updated by other users – another good idea.

Surprisingly, I’ve waffled on about how great the C320 is: design, display, attachments, programming. So what are the bad bits?

The voice isn’t my cup of tea, it’s a rather gruff middle-aged man who sounds particularly menacing when he’s informing you that you’re over the speed limit.

Unlike the many other languages the C320 supports, the English version doesn’t have an alternative to switch to. As with most GPS I’m sure there’s a firm out there that will supply an alternative, or even a celebrity voiceover; with the attention to detail Mio has shown made with this product, I’m surprised they missed this.

Battery life seems to be on the low side.

We averaged a couple of hours between the need to plug in the power. This doesn’t present a problem in the car, but cyclists, walkers etc may not get back from where they’ve been (no bad thing really).

The C320 is the bottom of the Mio ‘C’ range but it’s a huge step up from anything they’ve previously produced—the design is stunning, the display has all the information you need in view whenever you need it, the docking cradle allows you to remove it for quick address programming, the user interface is intuitive, it comes with most of Europe preinstalled and a licence-saving speed camera database … If this is the bottom of the range, what is the top like? (Mio, you have our address.)

It seems that Mio have given the R&D and design departments a serious pay rise and they’ve returned the favour in producing the best Mio satnav range to date. Excellent design is simple when you know how, and Mio now know how.

SPECIFICATIONS
Size:
19.9 x 126x81mm
Weight:
190g
Display:
4.3in TFT anti-glare touchscreen, resolution 480×272 Pixels (QVGA)
CPU:
Samsung 2443-400Mhz
GPS:
20-channel SiRFstarIII
User Memory:
64MB internal, SD memory card slot
System:
Win CE .Net 5.0 Battery: 4.5hrs
Connectivity:
USB 2.0
Mapping:
TeleAtlas maps of 22 Western European countries preinstalled on internal 1GB flash memory
Other:
Speed camera warnings outof- the box, with free updates for one year. Support for TMC. ‘Click-in’, in-car power cradle design with speaker
RRP:
£239.99

 

 

 The C320 has a clean, clear touschscreen display

 C320 from the back – slim and uncluttered

 
The new easyto-unclip in-car cradle