Mio's recently released C220 is a fairly average looking entry-level portable GPS. It conforms to the new Mio corporate look with a liberal splashing of orange on its rounded 80mm by 106mm by 23mm grey-on-grey plastic body, which houses a standard 320x240 65K colour screen.
The main menu is friendly looking and contains most of the features you'll want to access on a day-to-day basis -- address entry, points of interest, recent addresses and shortcuts for home and work -- but like much of the Mio's interface there are some inconsistencies. For instance, in the main menu you can enter in a set of co-ordinates as your destination but how frequently anyone who's not a cartographer or in the armed forces will use this is beyond us. Also, in some menu screens there's no easy of way getting back to the map.
We liked the highly customisable map display, although the plethora of on-screen buttons requires trial and error, or -- gasp! -- manual reading to figure out. You can zoom in and out, adjust the map viewing angle from your view to bird's-eye view, mute the sound, change the path tracking, itemise the current route and more without diving through many a menu screen. The learning curve may be too steep for some, but once you've learnt it it's a snap. It took us a while, though, to find Cockpit mode which adds a sidebar, next to the map, displaying next turn instructions, as well as other less useful information.
It's again case of greater customisability over initial ease of use with the window mount, which is adjustable and lockable along two planes. Affixing the C220 to the mount requires attaching a back plate to the GPS, which makes rapid removal and storage difficult -- unless you're willing to store the unit and the window mount too, which is what we ended up doing. And the bottom mounted USB port, to which you connect the in-car power supply, means that the C220 can't be fitted too close to your dashboard.
Some features we highly recommend like text-to-speech aren't present on the C220. Although there's no light sensor, the C220 will automatically switch, depending on the time of day, between day and night modes -- both of which we found pleasing to the eye, especially the map fade away at the top of the screen when it's in human perspective mode. Shame then that there's no auto off when power cable is disconnected.
The on-screen keyboard, used for entering street names, suburbs and so on, has a predictive text feature which blanks impossible letter combinations, greatly reduced the occurrence of mis-pressed letters, which is almost a given with on-screen keyboards.
By default, speed and red light cameras are shown on the map. If that's not enough, you can switch on a larger warning icon for approaching infringement cameras, although the Mio should display the posted speed limit alongside the speed camera warnings. A big 40km/h warning sign is displayed for all school zones but unfortunately is shown irrespective of the day or time.
Tall buildings, which obscure or bounce satellite signals every which way, meant that the C220 was sometimes lost in the CBD -- more so than recent graduates through the CNET labs, like the and TomTom One XL. Sometimes when we veered off course, the C220 would stubbornly insist on following its preferred course, to the point of advising us to perform crazy, and often illegal, manoeuvres. For example, we were asked multiple times to do u-turns on Broadway and make impossibly sharp right turns.
Generally, the C220 safely navigated us from A to B, although the usual complaints about circuitous routes and an over reliance on major or clogged roads remained. The C220 utilises the latest R14 maps from Sensis and its route calculation times were acceptable for all trips except those heading out of town.