Yesterday Crave was whisked off by helicopter to Greenwich and then back up the Thames by speedboat to witness the UK launch of a new product range from Mio Technology. Just another day in the glamourous life of a gadget blogger...
Mio Technology is a satellite-navigation company based in Belgium and it previously had only a small presence in the UK. But the company is now hoping making a big impact in the UK market, starting with the launch of six satellite-navigation devices. The devices range from budget versions to fully fledged sat-nav weapons of mass location.
We were lucky enough to get our hands on two of the six devices, the Mio C210 (pictured, left) and the Mio C710 (right). The C210 is the cheapest device Mio offers and for £200 you get a map showing all of the UK's roads and points of interest, seven-digit postcode recognition, speed camera warnings with free updates for a year, a 65k colour touchscreen and an SD/MMC card slot. Also included is a map of all the major roads in Europe, but for a more detailed map with minor roads and points of interest you'll need to pay for an upgrade.
The C210 features one of the latest GPS receivers -- a SiRFstarIII -- which means you will get a better and more constant satellite signal wherever you are in the UK, compared with older receivers. You also have the option to add a TMC receiver, so you can pick up live traffic updates and have alternative routes suggested to avoid congestion.
Our main niggle with the C210 is that it's only really suitable for drivers. If you want to use it when you're walking around, you can only remove the dashboard stand on the bottom with a screwdriver and it curves out at the back, so it will be hard to fit in your pocket. It also runs on four AA batteries when it's unplugged, rather than a lithium one, so the battery life won't be as good.
In contrast, the C710, which costs £360, is the top-of-the-range C series device, and is intended for driving and walking. The C710 features a pocket-friendly form factor, maps of 24 European countries pre-installed, touch-screen functionality, seven-digit postcode recognition, a dedicated pedestrian mode, an anti-glare screen, speed camera location alerts and a predictive search facility that will bring up points of interest and their phone numbers. Handy if you don't want to make an expensive call to directory enquiries.
The C710 also includes an MP3 player, picture viewer, hands-free calling with Bluetooth (including a built-in microphone), Outlook synchronisation and a SiRFstarIII GPS receiver. It also has a built-in TMC receiver so you don't need to fiddle about with an external one, and you can get live traffic updates with alternative route suggestions right out of the box.
As well as being feature-packed, the C710 is light and small enough to put in your pocket. We're particularly impressed with the built-in TMC receiver and the pre-installed maps of 24 European countries. The SD/MMC card slot supports up to 2GB, so you could viably use it as an MP3 player.
Here's a quick roundup of the other four devices, including UK pricing:
Mio C510E: The C510E is based on the C710 and has exactly the same features, except that it doesn't have the pre-installed maps of 24 countries or the built-in TMC receiver. It currently costs £240.
Mio A701: This is a Windows Mobile phone with a built-in GPS receiver and Mio satellite navigation software. It currently costs £450 with maps, £379 without. Here's the link to our full review.
Mio P550: A handheld organiser with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a built-in GPS receiver. It also features an SD/MMC card slot and runs on Windows Mobile 5. It currently costs £309 with maps, £249 without.
Mio P350: The P350 has the same form factor as the P550 but doesn't have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It does have an MMC/SD card slot, however, and also runs on Windows Mobile 5. It currently costs £240 with maps, £179 without.