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Mio DigiWalker A701 review: Mio A701

Mio's A701 is a jack-of-all-trades handheld combining PDA and phone functionality, GPS navigation, a 1.3-megapixel camera, an MP3 player and a movie player.

Siddharth Raja

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3 min read

The Mitac Mio A701 is like a swiss-army knife for the urban environment, with its integration of hundreds of features into a lightweight, pocket-friendly package. While it features all the usual PDA functionality, its party piece is its integrated GPS capabilities. Now we're left to wonder just what they can't cram into an all-in-one device.

mio-a701_1.jpg
8.0

Mio DigiWalker A701

The Good

Lightweight. Stylish design. Built-in GPS. Good PDA performance.

The Bad

Uncomfortable stylus. Not enough user-definable buttons. Camera could be better.

The Bottom Line

Overall, a great phone with a host of features in addition to GPS capabilities, the experience is only marred by the high price and ergonomic issues.

Design
The Mio A701 is one of the smallest Windows Mobile devices available today. Weighing in at 150 grams and with dimensions of 117 by 59 by 21.8mm, the Mio is definitely a Pocket PC that doesn't need to go on Atkins. In fact, you can put it in your pocket and not have to worry about all the "is that a PDA in your pocket or are you just happy to see me" jokes. It's still larger than phones such as the O2 Atom Exec, but not much.

On top of its light weight, it's not dull to look at either. The combination of black and silver, as well as its strongly rounded corners, give it an appealing look while remaining comfortable in your palm. The Mio is very well put together, and feels sturdy as well as elegant, even though the body is made of plastic.

The front panel is dominated by the screen, which takes up most of the real-estate save for the four navigational buttons and the joystick that occupy the lower quarter of the Mio. Two of the keys are user-definable and are preset to launch Windows Media Player and GPS Navigation.

On the left-hand side of the Mio are volume control buttons while the right-hand side has an SD slot as well as a user-definable button which is preset as the camera shutter release. The right hand side also has a small headphones connector, and storage for the telescopic stylus.

And the strange looking black stub at the top of the phone? Well, at least it isn't some marketing guy's idea of "aesthetic appeal" -- it is actually an integrated GPS antenna.

Features
Like other Pocket PCs, the Mio packs a healthy amount of features into its tiny footprint. Its 520MHz processor makes light work of most tasks, and the phone comes loaded with Windows Mobile 5.0, giving it access to all of its features. In terms of connectivity, most users will find it adequate as it features Bluetooth, USB, and GPRS.

As a GPS device, the phone works very well, with GPS running on a 20-channel SiRFstar III system. The GPS worked very well in dense city environments, only dropping out once the entire time for about 10 seconds. The GPS works better on foot than in a vehicle as sometimes the distance measurement can be a little bit off when you are travelling quickly.

As a digital camera, the A710 takes very respectable photos considering it only sports a 1.3-megapixel camera, however the quality of the shots is very dependent on the lighting conditions and tend to be rather erratic in terms of quality.

Performance
Overall, the Mio A701 is a very well thought out phone. Its combination of good looks and functionality make it a good everyday phone. The 520MHz Intel XScale PSA-270 processor certainly has enough grunt to make things run smoothly and the menus and functionality are intuitive and simple to pick up. There's also a solid 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM installed in the device. Our only gripes were with the fact that there aren't enough user-definable buttons, and that the stylus isn't suited for long-term use.

Battery life is at a healthy 200 hours for standby time, and four hours of talk time which is about average for Pocket PCs. Standby time drops significantly if you use features such as Bluetooth and GPS regularly. Heavy users will find they'll need to charge the phone every day.

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