We really liked the original , a combination Pocket PC/GPS that scored points with its compact design, its excellent mapping software, and its generous accessory bundle. So we had high hopes for its successor, the Mio 168RS. Unfortunately, while it's still a solid PDA/GPS combo, it brings few innovations--indeed, few changes at all--to the table. Mio failed to add Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, bump up the screen resolution, or lower the price. In fact, at $599, the 168RS actually costs more than its predecessor. On the plus side, it boasts a few extra accessories and a slightly updated operating system (Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition). It's not that we don't like it, but we're disappointed by the higher price and the skimpy improvements.
Physically identical to its predecessor, the Mio 168RS sports compact, pocket-friendly proportions, save for the GPS antenna, which continues to add a 0.3-inch bump to the back when folded down. We remain impressed by how slim (4.4 by 2.7 by 0.6 inches) and light (5.4 ounces) this device is; that said, we're disappointed by its cumbersome four-way joystick and 2.5mm headphone jack, which doesn't accommodate standard connectors. At least Mio supplies compatible earbuds, which should satisfy most listeners. While Mio continues to be generous with accessories, one item that remains absent is a synchronization cradle. The 168RS includes only a USB cable, so if you want a cradle, you'll have to purchase it separately for $39.99. Thankfully, Mio has improved the design of its suction-cup windshield mount; it holds the PDA much more securely, though it still wobbles too much in some vehicles. The included cigarette-lighter charger means you'll never run out of power while traveling.
We had also hoped for a VGA screen, but the Mio 168RS retains its 320x240-pixel resolution and displays 65,000 colors. Curiously, the screen looked rather grainy and washed out compared to that of our old Mio 168--a step down in quality. It's not any better outdoors, either; we found visibility difficult even on cloudy days.
Like its predecessor, the Mio 168RS comes with a 300MHz Intel XScale processor, 32MB of ROM, and 64MB of SDRAM. Though we're eager for a faster processor and more RAM, Mio provides added storage in the form of a 256MB MMC memory card. You even get a USB SD/MMC reader for your PC, but because it's a USB 1.1 device, it doesn't necessarily speed up map downloads. You can just as easily copy maps to the card when it's inserted into the PDA.
Mio updated the PDA's operating system to Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which means you not only get Pocket versions of Word, Excel, and Windows Media Player, but you now have support for Landscape mode and other minor improvements. Mio also throws in a few worthwhile extras, including eMenu, a tab-based program launcher, and eBackup, a rudimentary backup program.
As a navigation device, the Mio 168RS continues to excel. We had an easy time carving out maps to install from the desktop Mio Map software and an equally easy time routing to addresses in our PDA contact list. As before, you can choose between 2D, 3D, and bird's-eye views of your map. You also get text- and voice-guided directions, auto route recalculation if you veer off course, and a healthy points-of-interest database. For a full description of the mapping and navigation capabilities, check out ourof the original Mio 168.