Mio Technology is gaining a reputation for producing some solid portable navigation systems at really affordable prices, and the Mio DigiWalker C320 is no exception. Like the Mio DigiWalker C520, the C320 boasts a sleek design with a beautiful widescreen display, and it performs solidly, providing accurate text- and voice-guided directions. However, we couldn't help but be disappointed by its feature set. There's no support for text-to-speech functionality for spoken street names, and its points-of-interest database isn't as comprehensive as that in competing systems. Even the entry-level Mio DigiWalker C230 offers more. True, you can find the Mio C320 for as low as $199.99, which is undeniably a good price, but you can also get the C230 for about the same price and get more bang for your buck. Alternatively, if you can afford to spend a little more, the Mio C520 is also a great value.
The Mio DigiWalker C320 resembles its older, more full-featured brother the Mio C520 in looks, and that's just fine by us. We like the sleek design (4.9 inches wide by 3.1 inches high by 0.5 inch deep; 6.7 ounces) and the nice 4.3-inch-wide touch screen. The display has a 65,000-color output at 480x272 pixel resolution, so maps were bright and easy to read. For the most part, we were able to view the screen in various lighting conditions, though colors washed out a bit in bright sunlight. In that case, adjusting the backlight helped the situation.
As with the company's other models, the C320 uses the Mio Map v3 navigation software. Though not quite as simple and user-friendly as a Garmin or TomTom device, the menu system and interface is still pretty intuitive. The main page presents you with four clear options: MioMap, Audio, File Manager, and Settings. But as we've noted on previous Mio reviews, however, a number of tabs on the map screen that open and hide various navigation tools require some time to learn.
On the left spine, there's an SD expansion slot so you can load your multimedia files, as well as a 2.5mm headphone jack. Once again, as with the C520, we're disappointed that Mio didn't equip the C320 with a 3.5mm jack since this would allow you to plug in your favorite pair of headphones. You will find a power button on top of the unit, a mini USB port on the bottom, and the speaker and an external antenna jack on the back.
The Mio C320 comes packaged with a car charger, an AC adapter, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a USB cable, and reference material.
The Mio C320 is equipped with a 20-channel SiRFIII GPS chip and comes preloaded with TeleAtlas maps of the United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. You can start planning a trip by entering a specific address, picking a POI, selecting a destination from your My Favorites or recent destinations list; or you can tap a point on the map and hitting the Route To option. The system can create directions by fastest, shortest, or most economical route; with or without toll roads, highways, U-turns, and so forth; and in various modes, including car, bicycle, and pedestrian.
The C320 supports multistop routes, and there's a database of 1.7 million POI. The number of included POI is a bit disappointing, since even the entry-level Mio C230 offers more entries at 3.5 million while the C520 contains 6 million POI. That said, you get all the major categories--gas stations, ATMs, lodging, and restaurants--as well as more specialized interests, such as concert halls and amusement parks.
Maps are presented in 2D or 3D mode, and there's a Night Mode option that automatically changes the maps colors for better visibility at night. You also have your choice of viewing a full-screen map or a split-screen view. The latter displays various details about your trip. You can cycle through several views that give you the distance and direction of your next turn; a list of upcoming turns; nearby gas stations; current time; estimated time of arrival; speed; and more.
Navigation guidance comes by way of text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. Unfortunately, unlike the Mio C230, the C320 doesn't support text-to-speech functionality, which is a disappointment. You can view a detailed list of instructions before you head out under Itinerary or get a running demo of the route with the Fly Over function. If you want to steer clear of a certain portion of the route because you happen to know there's road construction or heavy traffic, just hit the Avoid button and choose from a list of options. The system also supports automatic route recalculations and has a number of safety options, including speeding alerts, a screen lock that prevents you from using the touch screen when the car is in motion, and safety camera information. The C320 doesn't ship with traffic capabilities out of the box, but you can add this function with an optional traffic receiver. Finally, the system comes with a music player that supports MP3 files. The player is basic but includes equalizer settings and allows for playlist creation.
We tested the Mio C320 in San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took the unit about 3 minutes for satellite acquisition under clear skies, while subsequent starts were almost instantaneous. On unspecified trips, the C320 did a good job of tracking our location and only lost a signal when we drove through the Broadway Tunnel.
We also entered our standard trip from the Marina District to CNET's downtown headquarters. Route calculation was swift, and we checked the trip itinerary and agreed with the prescribed route. Once on the road, we found the voice directions to be clear and loud enough, and you can set the system to alert you to upcoming turns with a chime. While this is handy, what we really missed is the text-to-speech functionality. Finally, we missed several turns to test the C320's route recalculation rate, which was quick and accurate.
Music playback sounded pretty decent through the system's speakers, with plenty of volume and good balance. It's too bad the player is only limited to MP3s. The C320's lithium ion battery is rated for up to 5 hours of use.