I have a Mio c310x. Not the best, but most of the time, it does get me to where I want to go. Can be picked up for $140 to $300. MSRP is $400 to $500, so I was surprised to see some places sell it for $150 over that.
The thing is, before I got my Mio c310x, the only GPS manufacturers I've heard of were TomTom, Magellon, and Garmin. It turns out Mio was relatively new to the GPS scene, but it's reported that they've established themselves. Note that while c310x is not the most low end model, it is kinda down there which may explain why it's not the best. The fact that it's considerably cheaper than the $400 to $1000 GPS devices says it as well.
If I were to get another GPS device, I would NOT get the c310x. I would look for a better feature set, but keeping 'em to a limit to keep the device from getting too expesnive. Here are some key features u should pay attn to (definately NOT limited to this list)
>>text to voice
says street names out loud (e.g. "in 50 yards, turn left at west Johnna st", instead of just "in 50 yards, turn left").... tho there are some negative reviews about certain cases of this feature where the voice doesn't pronunciate street names correctly that it was essentially worthless. You had to look at the device anyways to find out what streeet was being referred to
I know someone who's disguisted with his Garmin device and wants to switch to Mio b/c while the Garmin was acurate and worked, it offered no options like to find a different route instead of the originally proposed 5 mile stretch of road. Others are flexible enough to allow you to plot specific parameters like avoid highways, dirt roads, toll roads, etc.
There's TeleAtlas which is what Mio uses and there's NavTeq which is what some of the other manufacturers use. From what I read all around, TeleAtlas was trailing, but they seem to be caught up now that they finally released map updates. Map updates are optionally, one time fee thing whenever updates become available, depending on model and device it's for
>>number of POIs (Points Of Interest)
These include everything from where your local eateries are (Burger King, AppleBees), to hotels, to transportation hubs (airports, metros, bus stops), to landmarks (e.g. Lincoln Memorial, World's largest <blank> in some western/mountain state). The Mio c310x has 3.5 million of them. Some of the more high tech GPS devices have 6.5mil POIs or perhaps even 10 million POIs. Granted, all the POIs aren't worth **** if the thing can't get u from point A to point B in a reasonable manner (which IS the whole point of a GPS device), but I would start with about 6mil POIs just b/c it's nice to know they're there. Some ppl don't touch 'em, but they may come in handy for others. If you're the type of person who wonders what's in a given area, familiar or unknown, then make this a larger number for your search criteria.
>>Side note, most if not all GPS devices should let u add your own POIs, (e.g. John's friend's house, school parking lot space, etc.) which is nice. Take note if a GPS device does NOT have this feature
touch screen seems natural, but some ppl could make due with soft buttons, scroll wheels, and other buttons. Others
Battery life can vary noticeably from model to model, and that's without all the external factors. However, most GPS devices used for vehicles oughtta come with a car charger, so if something is on the lower side of battery life, you should be fine charging it on the road as needed. FYI, GPS devices for vehicles may NOT come with an AC (home) charger, just the car one.
>>screen size + resolution
larger screens = more clarity, but also make for bigger, bulkier GPS devices.
More resolution = more detail, but also eats batteires faster, but the stated batt life oughtta take these into account. With my 320x240 screen at IIRC 4.5" to 5".... it's sufficient. I need to really zoom in sometimes to see the more minor street names, but since directiosn are being dictated by audio, it's not that big a deal for me.
If the screen is too small with too much resolution, things will appear too small. Surely manufacturers would've gotten preliminary feedback if such was the case.
If it's too big, you won't be too convenient for pedestrian use (if it's even intended for that use as well)
my GPS only comes with a American (aka American English) in male gender. More American voices, especially female ones would've been nice. Not a deal breaker, but still on my features list
>>lattitude + longitude coordinate system
Dunno what's the deal with his. Perhaps those in the military, or doing "atypical" and/or outdoor activities like hiking in some secluded mountain range may find this feature helpful. For naval navigation, it's useful, but AFAIK, naval GPS devices are a whole different market segment
relevant to GPS and your travels.... For example, IIRC, the Mio 610 has a subscription for just this service. It charts your route based on real time, current events. E.g. it routes you around DC since there's a riot going on in the NW sector that's bogging down traffic, or that since it's getting info since it's a minor holiday, a major highway is smooth sailing since most of the commuters are taking off work and not congesting traffic.
Other GPS devices may offer premium services like AAA support.
>>miscellanoues stuff features Not related to GPS travel....
it just tells u the weather, sports, stock quotes, and news.... maybe email.... something u could also do with cellphone, PDA, laptop + some internet access
My GPS doesn't do video or pics. Just music, and even then it's terrible at that. Doesn't matter as I ahve an ipod for music and the GPS still navigates me well enough. These features are nice to have, but by no means be your primary criteria, since seperate/standalone devices will do multimedia MUCH better
>>ease of use
this one takes hands on work, and even then, it's subjective. Ppl can get used to many tyupes of consumer electronics with time. Windows vs Linux vs Mac, Nokia vs Motorola vs Samsung, etc. Since most ppl can work with many types of interfaces, best bet is to see if retailers have demo models for you to try
>>time to get signal
Similar deal with cellphones. While some may be superior here, other times, too many factors makes this a skewed figure
>>other maps it comes with or are available
most US GPS devices come with US maps preinstalled. Others u gotta install 'em yourself. Others may also include other maps like of Canada or perhaps Mexico, to install yourself if needed or not to save space. If going to Europe, GPS manuf may have maps of thsoe regions for sale to get the most of your unit