There are so many companies producing portable GPS devices that it has become rather difficult to pick one that's right for you. Fortunately, there are products like the Mitac Mio C510 that cover most bases, offering an array of functionality including mobile phone hands free, audio playback and a contacts manager in addition to its basic navigation.
The Mio C510 strikes us as a rather mundane looking portable GPS device. Our test unit came in a matt grey colour with black borders and a bright 3.5-inch screen. At the top of the unit you'll find the memory card reader and external antenna port, as well as a small bulge housing the GPS receiver. Other external features include a headphone jack and USB port, plus several buttons to control the unit's main functions such as power and volume.
One design feature we liked was the rubbery buttons, which were very tactile and easy to use. Mounting the C510 requires a two piece connector with a suction cap that attaches to your car's windscreen plus the actual mount that attaches to the device. Securing the mount was a simple affair and the strength of the suction cap was good, though removing it can be difficult. The C510 is very small at just 110mm by 76mm by 20.6mm with weight an equally low 170 grams. Despite its small size, the C510 still includes a 320 x 240 resolution touch sensitive screen with 65,000 colours.
Included in the box is a separate AC charger, a rarity among portable GPS devices, which plugs into a mini-USB connector. This means that you can charge up the C510 either by using the AC charger or plugging it into your PC's USB port. Mitac also provides an in car charger that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter.
Powering the C510 is a 400MHz processor running the Windows CE 4.2 operating system. GPS duties are taken care of thanks to the newer SiRFstar III GPS receiver and the fully embedded antenna. The SiRFstar III GPS receiver is well known for its ability to work in dense urban areas without a direct line of sight.
Onboard there's only 512MB to hold all the mapping data as well as any of your personal files, although this can be upgraded with a memory card. The maps can either be displayed in 2D or 3D, with directions read in a choice of 15 different languages. In addition to the devices standard navigating features is the ability for it to act as a mobile phone's hands free with built-in Bluetooth, as well as a MP3 player and picture viewer. Calls can be made directly via your Outlook contacts, which can be transferred from a PC.
After charging, which took about three hours through the USB cable, we were ready to starting testing the navigation features. After turning on the device, we had to enter our language preference as well as date and time info. Acquiring a satellite was quick at just 30 seconds, and mounting the unit to the windscreen was straight forward. The grip of the mount is strong, which allowed us to manoeuvre the unit until we were happy with the position. The C510 picks up the latest MioMap 3 navigation software and includes handy information in the extensive points of interest (POI) list.
Entering your destination via the onscreen QWERTY keyboard is quick and can be done using your fingers instead of the stylus. Once data is inputted, the route calculation takes less then 10 seconds, which was very impressive. Recalculation for a missed turn was incredibly quick, taking just seconds in most cases. The maps of the C510 were some of the best we've seen for a portable GPS and the zooming function made the experience even better. The bright screen was still viewable even in direct sunlight while voices were audible and pleasant. Overall the C510 performed exceptionally well, although we would like to see it priced a little more competitively.