The Mio C310 is billed as an entry-level product for users who need a reliable GPS device. The C310 is about the size of an old-school iPod, officially weighing 170g. It's lightweight and relatively simple to operate once you understand how GPS units work.
Operation of the C310 device is performed via a 3.5-inch touchscreen display. The launch display screen has four options -- MioMap, Settings, MP3 and Contacts. There is an audio speaker in the back of the device, an SD/MMC memory card slot, and an external antenna connector.
Included in the box are a windscreen mount, a device holder (which attaches to the mount), an in-car charger, an AC cable and a USB cable. The windscreen mount and device holder fit together and attach to the windscreen quite easily. Once the unit is fixed to the windscreen, it's a little difficult to adjust the position of the device, and with the speaker at the rear of the unit, MP3 sounds and voice directions are a bit muffled. Songs definitely sound better if the device is placed face down on the middle console or passenger seat. The Mio C310 works fine without attaching it to the windscreen for trips where you don't need to view the map and trust the voice to take you where you want to go, or if you just need extra reassurance that you're going the right way.
The C310 features MioMap V3 with Sensis V13 mapping preloaded. Released only recently, this is 2006 map data from Sensis who supplies most (if not all) of the data for Australian car navigation devices. This map includes school zones, traffic signal and speed camera alerts, 4WD tracks, and a large range of points of interest and updates for major road developments such as the M7 in Sydney.
The C310 runs Windows CE 4.2, which enables it to connect directly to Outlook address contacts so they can be downloaded to the device.
As noted above, the C310 also functions as an MP3 player (MP3 files only). These files can be loaded either to the onboard memory (512MB with 64MB SDRAM) or via your own pre-loaded SD card up to a 2GB capacity. The MP3 player is easy to operate on the road and enables you to create multiple playlists to choose from.
Given the C310 is billed as an entry-level machine, it performs fairly well. During testing there were a few glitches with the navigation instructions: we were told to turn right where right turns were not allowed and although the promo promises updates for major road developments, we noticed at least one major change driving to Sydney's Northern beaches from the Harbour Bridge that hadn't yet been recognised by the unit. The routes the device chose were often not the ones we would have taken (being very familiar with the roads). Once we deviated from the suggested route, the device re-calculated effectively.
The battery life was fair -- running the GPS in the car on battery as opposed to the car charger lasted about three heavy peak-hour trips (2.5 hours). Battery life was about the same when running the MP3 player.
The MP3 player feature is neat if you don't already have a device connected to your car stereo, although the functionality is very basic. WMA files were not recognised as the unit only plays MP3 files. Playlists are also relatively difficult to build as the artist is not listed alongside the song choice. The MP3 playback in the car was not very loud with the inbuilt speaker in the back of the device -- the best results were achieved by putting the device face down in the car. There is a standard headphone jack so with the right accessories, you could connect and play through your car stereo for better sound.
The navigator voice on the MioMap is easy to understand and gives plenty of advance notice for upcoming turns and traffic issues. There is no repeat button if you miss the instructions; however, each instruction was issued a number of times. On long straight stretches it was easy to wonder if it was still working, however a quick glance shows that it's up-to-date with your current location on the map.
For an entry-level product undoubtedly aimed at first time users, the instruction booklet is not comprehensive and a lot was left to trial and error. First-time GPS users would probably find the MioMap difficult to operate initially -- especially when trying to activate navigation to specific pre-programmed addresses. But as a basic entry level product, it certainly does the job and has some of the same features as several more fancied rivals.