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Mio DigiWalker knows its way around town

This latest small, white, portable gadget doesn't just play movies, music and hold pictures. With your permission, it will also boss you around.

Mio DigiWalker
Credit: Erica Ogg
Five Mio DigiWalker personal navigation
devices on display at Varnish Gallery in
San Francisco Thursday night shown with
customizable face plates.

Smaller than a deck of cards, the Mio DigiWalker is a personal navigation device that literally knows the lay of the land--a lot of land. It's pre-loaded with maps covering the United States and Canada and 11 million points of interest (POIs). Its 2.7-inch color touch-screen can show and tell you how to get from point A to point B on a flat two-dimensional map or give you a 3-D perspective. The default voice giving directions is a pleasantly authoritative man's voice, but there are 16 different languages to pick from, including a guy with a lovely, lilting British accent. Just beware, he describes distances in meters. Or "metahs" to be more precise.

The DigiWalker can dismount from a car's dashboard to a pocket or purse. In "pedestrian mode," it will ignore one-way streets and turn restrictions that apply only to cars.

It's got 64MB of RAM, but movies, music and photos can be played from an SD card of your choice, and the lithium ion battery is good for up to five hours while navigating, but up to 15 hours if just playing MP3 files.

Though it's already for sale in Europe, the Mio DigiWalker isn't available stateside until mid-October, company representatives said Thursday. It will cost $499, but the gadget comes well-equipped with remote-control earphones, car charger, car mounting kit, USB cable, wriststrap and neckstrap. Customizable faceplates will be added to that list of accessories come holiday shopping season.