Can we move away from devices that look like iPods, please? Mio's P350 -- one part GPS, one part PDA -- has that same white casing that we've been seeing on everything from laptops to personal grooming accessories ever since the iPod popularity explosion began. When even Apple has branched out into black, red and even orange, it's probably time to move on, designer-type dudes.
Rants about copying iPod style aside, the P350 is an otherwise plain looking PDA shaped device of essentially the same design as the company's higher end A701, although the P350 lacks the A701's rather ugly "bump" at the top right corner, which apparently housed the GPS antenna. The four buttons on the face of the P350 control screen orientation, power, contacts and a today button, while the sides of the unit house an SD/MMC card slot, headphone socket, inbuilt microphone and IR port.
Mio positions the P350 as the budget GPS alternative, and given that it's actually also a fully featured Windows Mobile 5.0 device, it's not a bad compromise. On the GPS side, triangulation is managed by the SiRFStar III chipset run via Mio's MioMap software application. It also offers what you might consider the "standard" Windows mobile 5.0 applications -- Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Bubble Breaker -- and a smattering of Mio-specific applications. These include Mio Calc, a higher-end calculator with support for currency and unit conversion. On the minus side for MioCalc, it looks rather like a Windows 3.11 application, especially the bitmapped program icon.
If you're the type that salivates at the mention of technical specifications, then this is the paragraph for you. The P350 runs on a Samsung 2440 400Mhz processor with 128MB of internal ROM, and flaunts a 3.5" 65,000 colour, 320x240 pixel TFT touchscreen. The naturally white stylus hides in the upper right corner of the unit. From a physical perspective, the P350 measures in at 17.8 x 72 x 115 and weighs in at 170 grams. That's surprisingly light for a PDA of this size.
The P350 might boast the same SiRFStar III receiver as other GPS systems, but you wouldn't know about it from its initial triangulation performance, which was amongst the slowest we've seen on a GPS for a very long time. We rarely managed to get a signal lock in less than two minutes, even when powering up the unit from a previously recognised location. This lag also transferred to en route navigation; while it was quite quick to recalculate a path if we strayed off the suggested route, it often lagged around 5-10m from our actual position. That's within the tolerance limits of GPS signal reception, but it's distracting while you're driving. We noticed the same kind of quirk with the A701, so perhaps it's a limitation of the MioMap software.
As a PDA, the P350 performed acceptably for our general use purposes, although it feels a little on the light side when it comes to additional bundled applications. One small factor that did impress us was the speed with which the P350 flips between horizontal and vertical applications -- great if you're watching video on the go.
Ultimately, the decision as to whether to buy the P350 depends on what you're really after. As a PDA it's somewhat on the lower specification side, and you could undoubtedly do better for the money -- but you can't get a GPS and a PDA for this kind of price in one unit. Likewise, its GPS performance was nothing to write home about -- and given the slow synchronisation, getting home might take some time too. But for a unit in this kind of price range, it sits in the acceptable range. Those with more cash to flash could do better -- even Mio's own A701 is a better combination unit, while we're still fond of the pure approach of units like the TomTom One or the nifty Navman N60i. Having said that, if you need a GPS and want a PDA, the P350 provides a reasonable but not stunning combination of both.