We really liked last year's range of Mio Digiwalkers, with the middle child, the C520, being our favourite. We garnered it with all sorts of praise, from its stylish body to its good mix of features and value. Fast forward one year and it seems as though Mio has taken a few steps forward, a few steps to the side and a couple of steps back with its new Moov line-up. There's a nice metallic bezel framing the 4.3-inch touchscreen, but overall the new Moovs are visually a step back. That's because the new body is chunkier, and the trapezoidal cross-section, along with the expanses of hard grey plastic, aren't pleasing either to the eye or to the touch.
As Mio and Navman are part of the same Taiwanese conglomerate, Mio has pilfered extensively from Navman's S-Series GPS range. The first sign of this is Mio's, sorry Navman's, distinctive blue-hued interface system, which is lifted holus-bolus. With its menus filled with large icons, as well as larger buttons on the map screen, it should be a boon for anyone who struggled with the learning curve of Mio's previous system.
We do, however, mourn the death of the split-screen system present in last year's Digiwalker line, which allowed you to have other important information, such as subsequent turn instructions, displayed next to the map. That system also let users quickly click on roads to avoid, something missing in the new-Mio-old-Navman interface. And we're a little surprised that Mio didn't tinker with some of the visual elements, or even just the colour scheme, because walking into a store and seeing two different brands with identical interfaces is confusing to say the least.
While the new old interface may be good news, it's unfortunate that Mio decided to steal the Navman S-Series' windshield mount. The problem is that the mount has a tongue that attaches it to the GPS, while the car charger's mini-USB plug slides into the mount. And aligning both the tongue and mini-USB plug is like trying to split atoms with a toothpick. Otherwise the mount is actually quite decent, as it's a compact design that doesn't take up too much space in the glovebox, and provides plenty of viewing angle adjustment with a levered suction cup that stays stuck to the windscreen no matter what type of road acne you drive over.
Although the 370 is the flagship of the Moov range, it's a dead ringer for its siblings, the 300 and 360. The only tell-tale sign is the little rubber door on the 370's left which hides the port for the traffic antenna. Aside from the lifetime subscription — that's the unit's lifetime, not yours — to Suna's traffic messaging service (currently available only in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), the 370 is identically specified to the 360. We had no problem pairing a number of phones up with the 370's Bluetooth hands-free system and, like other systems using a GPS unit's internal speaker, it's better to suited to quick calls rather than long discourses on the troubles in the Icelandic banking system.
Mio is the first major GPS maker in Australia to jump ship from Whereis maps to Navteq. This, according to the company, was done for several reasons, including the additional data supplied along with Navteq's maps. Like phoneme, or pronunciation, information for the Mio's text-to-speech system. Mio and Navteq claim that this should prevent Aboriginal street names, as well as Australian pronunciations, from sounding like a whole bunch of consonants and vowels being mashed up in the Hadron Collider. Bold claims which, despite our best efforts, we weren't able to disprove.
Another new feature is traffic light locations. While they aren't visible on the map, the Mio now incorporates traffic lights into its voice guidance. While "turn right at the fifth street at the traffic lights" is miles better than "turn right at the fifth street", especially on busy main roads, it's still not perfect because there's no indication whether the turn is at the first, second or, even, fifth traffic light.
There's also the now de rigueur alerts for school zones and safety cameras. Unfortunately, all these warnings use the same alert chime, which forces you to look at the screen. As there's no prominent identifying icon for each alert, you'll have to squint at the map's tiny icons to see whether there's a school zone, red light camera, or speed camera coming up.
As we've mentioned already, the only visual differentiator between the Moov 370 and its lesser siblings is a little rubber door on the 370's side labelled TMC. Plug the supplied FM antenna in, find a place to stash the antenna cable — a feat that's less trivial than it sounds, thanks to the cable's poor suction cups — and the 370 is able to connect to Suna's traffic messaging network. However, on some days when we left the 370 in automatic mode, we arrived at our work — about 20 minutes away — before the unit had locked onto Suna's broadcasting frequency.
When it was able to lock on, the 370 can be configured to either only inform you of traffic incidents or re-route you around delays it deems lengthy. In our experience, the traffic system worked well most of the time. Although, there were several occasions when we were stuck in traffic that either had yet to be picked up by the system or wasn't deemed to be significant by the powers that be.
Unfortunately, the 370 is unable to give you a verbal run down of any upcoming delays, forcing you to read the text alerts, which are at best confusing. Those wishing to use the 370's traffic abilities to help plan out their route to work can view either a list of traffic incidents, though with all incident summaries and text alerts looking like "M1 congestion Northbound > Southbound > Falcon Street > Brook Street", list view is of marginal use at best. There's also a zoomed out, 2D map view, which is far better, but attempting to click on the incident icons to get more info is an exercise in frustration.
Traffic messaging aside, the Moov 370 is pretty much par for the course as far as portable GPS devices go. The routing algorithm, for instance, still favours major roads — so directions, while never optimal, will still get you there in the end. And when driving in the CBD, the 370 will often lose its bearings.
More so than a show bag from the Easter Show, our feelings on the Mio Moov 370 are decidedly mixed. On the up side: traffic messaging is included at a reasonable price, text-to-speech that works well with Aussie street names and the easier to use ex-Navman interface. On the downside: the use of Navman's diabolical windshield mount, hard to read traffic messages and the death of split-screen mode, as well as the lower rent body, are big demerits.