September 24, 2007

Mio C320 Full Review

The Mio C320 is a widescreen GPS follow-up to their widescreen C520 model that hit the market earlier this year, and has already made a mark on the shelves brining widescreen affordability to the masses. The Mio C320 can be considered an entry model widescreen GPS that offers solid navigation on a widescreen unit without some of the features that are found on mid-tier models. You still get SiRF star III chipsets, a widescreen, maps of the US, as well as MP3 playback capability. The unit hits its price point by shedding the Bluetooth handsfree capability and the maps of Canada along with some POI data. It does maintain the split screen capability that the Mio C520 brought with it (See my review of the Mio C520), which is a user selectable option and one that I personally like.

The Mio C320 was announced today, but I have had the opportunity to check it out ahead of the launch to put it through its paces over the last couple of weeks before the general public gets its hands on it. The unit I used was a full working model.


The Mio C320 continues the minimalist design that surrounds the widescreen with a sleek black frame. Like the C520, the mount has a pretty wide mounting cradle that makes it easy to hit when mounting the GPS unit, and the cam lever action makes getting the unit on the windshield easy also. The articulating mount takes a couple of hands to set, but once you tighten down the screws the mount is solid from there on out.

I mentioned in the C520 review that the unit has a mini-USB power inlet in the bottom of the unit, but unfortunately uses a mini-USB plug in the car that comes straight out instead of an “L” plug. This creates a couple of tough situations that I would put in the refinement category, and not in the “can’t stand it” category. You will need to have the unit just a bit higher off the dash than others because the plug comes straight out the bottom of the unit. The unit’s mount also has a hole for the mini-USB plug to go into the unit, not a slot (see pictures at my Mio C520 review). This makes taking the unit off the mount a two-step process: 1) unplug the mini-USB, 2) Dismount the unit. If there was a slot, you could simply dismount the unit and stow it to get it hidden when you run into stores, etc. I have resorted to taking the whole unit off the windshield, which in the end is probably the safer thing to do.

The top of the unit has a single power button that is easy to operate and a quick tap powers off the unit. The left side has an SD slot for media data as well as a headphone jack. The back of the unit has the speaker that is plenty loud, and a small external antenna jack. The unit has an internal battery that should last several hours, I had no issues with it lasting plenty long and I believe that the claim of it going around 5 hours would be accurate.

Navigation with the Mio C320 is fairly easy with numerous ways to find your destination. The new Mio Map version is on the C320 and it includes a “type ahead” feature that shows you only the letters that are available next in the word that you are typing. So, when you type Maple St., and you type the “M”, the unit will only highlight letters that can come next, including “A”. This has the effect of speeding input; net, a big help here.

The Mio C320 has 1.7 Million POI, versus the 6 Million in the C520. The Mio C320 has the ability to search for stores and places of business, which is a huge help, but the database is a bit limited. WalMart, Target, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks are all in there, but things like Old Navy and The Gap aren’t.

Navigating with the Mio C320 is good, and voice prompts come at the right times. I like the split screen views as the unit can give you plenty of data (tab 1) or a list of next turns (tab 4). The maps are based on the new TeleAtlas maps (version - 2006.10), which does away with a lot of the inaccuracies that were an issue just a year ago.

Split Screen – Tabbed Browsing
When I first saw the split screen I was skeptical, and a bit leery of its usefulness, but it’s surprisingly helpful. The split screen is optional while navigating a route. Touch the small arrow in the upper right corner of the map, and you can hide the split screen. Tap is again the split screen grows out of the right side of the unit. With it shown, you quickly see that the right side of the screen is actually a tabbed interface. The main tab shows key navigation data, including speed, time of day and date when you are not navigating, but additional helpful information when navigating to a destination. When navigating the unit shows current time, estimated time of arrival (ETA), Distance to destination, as well as right at the top of the screen distance to next turn and a turn indicator arrow.

The next tab, the POI tab, shows distance to gas stations, which may also be a good thing while on a trip. Nicely enough, the POI tab on the Mio C320 split screen is configurable, which is fantastic. Set it up with the POI that you need and want to have access to; gas stations, restaurants, fast food only restaurants, train stations, post offices, etc.
In order to change what is showed, you need to display on the map the POI that you want to see; from the Map Screen:
1) Tap the lower left “Menu” button
2) Tap the Gear or “Settings” button
3) Tap the “Manage POI” button
4) Search through the POI list and when you get to a category that you want displayed, you highlight it and then tap the “Show” button in the lower left corner of the screen. [In order to highlight a higher-level category, you can tap it, and then tap the “Back” arrow in the upper left of the screen to highlight the category button.
The POI tab now has the new POI category or categories that you just highlighted. You can do multiple categories.

The third tab shows traffic information if you elect to have the traffic module installed (I did not), while the last tab shows a list of turns that are upcoming. These turn indicators show you the distance to that turn as well as the street name. This can be a big help when navigating, and I found it reassuring when I was trying to scan the route when going into unfamiliar territory. All of this can be had without losing sight of the maps or the layout of where you are going that stays right in front of you, inspiring confidence in your navigation experience.

Net I like the idea of tabbed browsing on the interface, and expect that this be a big step change in the user interface much like tabbed browsing has changed internet browsing.

Review Summary
Overall, I think that the Mio C320 is a solid GPS for Mio and offers a good entry-level widescreen GPS. Mio continues to keep price pressure on the GPS world, and in the year since they rocked the GPS market with the introduction of the Mio C310x, they have seen more competition in the value end of the market. With that said, they have not stood still and continue to innovate and drive shelf prices lower, keeping a price edge and staying competitive in features arena. The navigation is sound, and the interface is good, but not as dead easy at a Garmin. There are a lot of very happy Mio users who come to learn the interface quickly and are confident in the navigation. I think that the Mio C320 represents a good value with some innovative features that can make your navigation life easier after you learn your way around the interface. Definitely add the Mio C320 to the list when shopping around for entry-level GPS devices.

The Mio C320 is available at Radio Shack. Make sure you compare the price to the Mio C520, which may be at a similar price. The Mio C520 adds Text-to-speech, and has a lot more Points of Interest.

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What's in the Mio C320 Box?

  • The Mio Widecreen C320 GPS
  • 12V power cord
  • Cam lever action windshield mount
  • Cradle for Mio C320 to attach to the Mount
  • Adhesive Disk for dash
  • Mio Manual on CD ROM
  • Quick Start Guide Booklet
  • Quick Start Guide Poster


    Note – I excerpted some text for this review from my Mio C520 review, which isn’t necessarily bad since the units are on the same base operating system, basic functionality and the same chassis.

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    Posted by Scott Martin at September 24, 2007 7:05 AM
  • Recent Comments

    On C320 GPS how do you erase just one address without erasing all of them?

    Posted by: Richard at February 14, 2010 4:29 PM

    I bought two of these on sale at Radio Shack. I will never make that mistake again! Maps are out dated from the get go. Mio customer service sucks. Lies about map updates that are vaporware. Empty promises about when they will be available on their web site. Now state that they are avaiable once again. Called customer service, DVD still not available. They want you to send unit in. What BS!!! I will never do business with them again.

    Posted by: Rick at November 23, 2009 11:48 AM

    The biggest waste of $199 I ever spent to be honest. I also purchased this gps from Radio Shack when it went on sale and thought to myself, boy what a great idea to have something in case i get lost or if I need to get somewhere and don't have the time to go to mapquest. Boy was I wrong because the last couple of times this thing has taken me down back roads and out of my way..heck it even took me to a deserted parking lot. I think my next purchase will either be a tom tom or a garmen, and for those that put in those positive remarks...we all know you work for the company, so stop trying to play us.

    Posted by: Michael at November 9, 2009 10:43 AM

    I have a MIO 320 and cannot get it to give good directions. It is very frustrating since I am a fairly technical person. I wish MIO had a video showing how to use it. I have use other GPS devices while renting vehicles and they worked great. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Posted by: Nora at June 14, 2009 11:00 AM

    Mio last issued map updates for South Africa in December 2007, and their tech support just disses my requests.

    Does anyone know where I can find updated maps, or a GPS aaplication that would work on this unit, for which I could get regular map updates?


    Posted by: Graham McLeod at April 8, 2009 1:52 AM

    Recently purchased a Mio C320.. Outstanding unit for the price. granted it is "Last years" model as of now. However the ONLY downfall I have found is MIO customer service is SUB PAR and the Owners manual is also SUB PAR. If you do not have luck tinkering with things to figure out how they work.. this unit is NOT for you due to the fact that hardly ANYTHING is explained in the manuals.

    Posted by: Dillon R at December 11, 2008 8:48 PM

    I bought the C320 in March 2008. The first one continued to I took it back. The second one worked fine. I added TTS and that made the unit so much better.

    My only complaint was that it came with 2006 maps. Mio wanted me to purchase new maps, which the price was over half the price of the unit itself. I believe they should have provided me with ONE free map update.

    I ended up buying a new GPS MIO Moov 500. Just a little more expensive than buying new maps for the C320.

    However, I would still be interested in updating the C320 with newer maps with the DVD. Any copies available??

    Posted by: Nathan T at December 5, 2008 2:22 PM

    I had a TomTom for Palm for a number of years and it worked well. But then I bought the Mio C320 last November. I have used it extensively around the Northeast and it is terrific. I do not understand or agree with two previous negative comments on this unit - maybe theirs were defective There is a somewhat steep learning curve, but once you learn them, the unit has a variety of features that match or surpass the best units on the market including wide split screen, advance notice of turns and merges, intelligent automatic zooming capabilities, Sirf III chip, WAAS correction and many more. I am a very technical person and am so impressed with this unit that I would only look to upgrade within the Mio line without looking much further.

    Posted by: Bob G at September 27, 2008 11:55 AM

    I purchased a Mio c320 and it is the biggest piece of junk I have ever owned. It does not give correct directions to your location as it takes you way out of your way with wrong turns. Why this company does not stand behind thier products is beyond me?. I got a GPS, But what I really got was a headache from trying to make it work correctly. I'm going to buy a TOM-TOM.

    Posted by: Douglas M at September 16, 2008 3:50 PM

    i used this unit to drive all around the United States for a month. it worked great. the c320 was the best purchase i made for that trip.

    Posted by: anon at August 29, 2008 1:30 PM

    I too bought a Mio C320 at Radio Shack Black Friday Sale in November 2007.
    It maps my home address over 100 yards from the actual address. I took it on a vacation to North Carolina Last month and it cant correctly find its way most everywhere. Its only good to locate yourself, but not to help you get to an address, as the voice response gives incorrect instructions.
    I wrote to Mio and they wanr to sell me a map update for over half the price I paid fpr the C320 itself.


    Posted by: JAQUEBAUER at August 24, 2008 4:35 AM

    Hi Good Day

    I have the same Model Mio C320 i lost myWindsceen Mounting and would like to know where can i obtain one with the Car charger as well.

    Please do not hassistate me my e-mail address are below.

    Kind Regards

    Posted by: Monna at June 10, 2008 1:24 PM

    I bought the Mio 320 from Radio Shack because of their price. I used it one day and it sent me the wrong directions four different times of four tries. After finding my own way to Sears and Costco stores it still told me to continue driving because it thought that I had still not arrived. It went back after only one day. Will I ever look at a Mio again? Not a chance!

    Posted by: Glenn Amsberry at January 20, 2008 2:40 PM

    I love my MIO c320 the best GPS in USA and Europe

    Posted by: Oleg at November 27, 2007 12:54 PM

    The nicest thing about the c320 is that you can hack it since it runs Windows CE 5.0.

    If you do enough searching you can find a place where they discuss how to enable the text-to-speech which is the largest draw of the more expensive c520.

    If you bought one from RS on Black Friday, then you basically got a TTS capable unit for $150.

    Posted by: Anony Mouse at November 26, 2007 8:24 PM

    I had purchased the Mio 320 after already buying the Magellan Maestro 3225 at Costco cause IU wanted the slightly more POIs at a $50 cheaper price (RadioShack). However, after traveling to my place in southcentral WI, the Mio told me to turn right to get to my cottage when a left turn was required (right would have placed me 1/2 mile into a corn field). Second, I placed in the address to a restaurant 20 miles away, it took me left 5 blocks West of my destination instead of 1/2 blocks with a right turn. I redid the routes in the Magellan at home and it provided correct locations. I also discovered a $20 off coupon and place online to create a 6 mil. POI file to download to the unit. To say the least, the Mio is history.

    Posted by: Hans at November 26, 2007 1:56 PM

    Very nice review. I definitely sealed my decision to purchase the C320. Radio Shack had it on sale the day after Thanksgiving for 150.00 which I felt comfortable with for the quality you have shown in the product.
    Thanks again,
    Randy Oswalt

    Posted by: Randy Oswalt at November 24, 2007 4:24 PM
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