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Phones

Mio A701: A smart phone from the sat-nav people

The Mio A701 is a sign of things to come. A device that will make your calls, direct you through the streets of Europe and let you read Microsoft documents

Satellite navigation has proven mighty popular among drivers, and it's easy to see why. Gone are the days of riffling through maps to find obscure roads leading to your parents-in-law. Now all you have to do is type in their address and hey presto, you made it there in half the time. Ah, technology, giving you more time with the in-laws.

And now sat-nav companies are beginning to realise that not all of us drive. Software such as Route 66 Mobile 7 and Via Michelin provides sat-nav on your mobile phone and handheld organiser, but you still need to carry a Bluetooth GPS receiver around with you -- and Crave hates carrying extra bits. HP included GPS in the iPAQ hw6515, but when we tried it, it didn't work terribly well.

Now Mio has brought its sat-nav expertise to the mobile with an all-in-one phone, handheld and sat-nav called the Mio A701. It's a hefty looking device about the size of a BlackBerry, which isn't bad given what it can do for you.

The A701 is a Windows-based smart phone with a 69mm (2.7-inch) touch-screen interface. It runs on Windows Mobile 5.0, has a 520MHz intel processor, 128MB NAND flash, 64MB SDRAM, Bluetooth 1.2, a 1.3-megapixel camera and an SD/MMC memory card slot that can take up to 2GB.

Running on Windows Mobile 5.0 means you can use all the latest compatible sat-nav programs, or you can buy it pre-loaded with the Mio sat-nav software. Windows Mobile 5.0 also gives you access to Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office Mobile, as well as letting you browse the Web on Internet Explorer 4.0.

The A701 is a tri-band GSM/GPRS handset, which means you can use the sat-nav to travel around Europe and still make phone calls with it. A really cool feature is the ability to text your GPS position to other mobile phones, so you can let loved ones know exactly where you are -- if you want to, that is.

The A701 will be available this month, and cost around £449 with the sat-nav software pre-installed and £379 without it. Expect a full review soon. -AL

Update: a full review of the Mio A701 is now live.