A lot of GPS manufacturers today are integrating multimedia features into their devices to make these portable navigation systems more versatile in the car and on foot. And while we appreciate the inclusion of such things as MP3 playback and picture viewing, we've always felt these additions were more of an afterthought or that the device's form factor didn't lend itself for true portability. However, this isn't the case with the Mio C710 ($649.95). It's ultracompact to make it a travel-friendly gadget, and the multimedia features are well integrated into the device. The C710 proved to be a reliable navigator, and it includes traffic services and built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling. However, it has some setbacks. First, the list of compatible Bluetooth phones is quite limited, making the feature useless to most people, and the screen is hard to read in sunlight. Still, with its solid performance and attractive form factor, the Mio C710 is a handy and versatile device to use in and out of the car. The Mio C710 sports an ultracompact form factor. At just 4.4 by 3.0 by 0.7 inches and 6 ounces, you won't have any problems transporting this device from car to car or on foot. You also get a nice carrying case with a carabiner attached if you want to latch it onto your bag. Alternatively, you can easily slip this into your bag or purse, although you'll want some sort of case to protect the screen from scratches. Mio says the C710 was designed for the fashion-conscious traveler, and we certainly found the gadget to be attractive, with its sleek all-black casing and minimalist design.
Just four rubberized buttons are on the right spine: power on/off, main menu, volume up, and volume down. You can access the rest of the C710's functions via the 3.5-inch, 65,000-color display. The touch screen is responsive, and text and images are clear and sharp. In addition, the menu icons are large and easy to understand. But it's not a complete lovefest, as we had a couple of complaints. First, the C710 is barely readable in sunlight. We had a really hard time viewing maps as we drove around on a sunny day in San Francisco, even after we adjusted the angle of the device. Viewing videos and pictures outdoors in a park was also abysmal. Our second gripe was that the virtual keyboard was on the cramped side. We had to pay particular attention as were inputting addresses; still, we had numerous mistakes. Users with larger digits will definitely want to test this feature out before committing to the purchase.
There's an SD/MMC card expansion slot on the top of the Mio C710 for carrying extra media, such as music and video. On the bottom of the device, you'll find a mini USB port, a reset hole, and a 3.5mm headphone jack (accepts Walkman-style headphones) that also doubles as the traffic antenna jack. There are two small LEDs to the upper left of the screen; the first illuminates orange while the battery charges and the bottom one blinks blue when Bluetooth is ready for use. Finally, the speaker is located on the back along with a port for attaching an external antenna for better satellite reception.
Mio packages the C710 with all the necessary accessories to get you started. Aside from the aforementioned protective case, you get a windshield mount, a car charger, an AC adapter, a USB cable, a TMC (Traffic Message Channel) antenna, an application CD, and a map DVD. The Mio C710 uses a 20 SiRFstarIII, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and comes with maps of North America preloaded on the device's 2GB of ROM, so you don't have to deal with any time-consuming map transfers from your PC and it's ready to go right out of the box. You get the standard text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. The C710 does not, however, feature text-to-speech functionality, which speaks actual street names; instead, you'll get generic directions, such as "Turn left in 100 feet." The Settings menu allows you to customize the C710 to your liking. You can choose to get directions by the quickest or shortest route, in English, Spanish, or French, or enable/disable various voice prompts, such as speed and unreliable GPS connection warnings. You can also tell the C710 to avoid certain roads, but interestingly, only toll roads are included as part of the default list, not highways. You can, however, manually input them. Maps are presented in 2D or 3D mode, and a Night Mode changes the color scheme of the maps for better nighttime viewing.