The Mio C220 comes to the US for 2007 and it fits right into a growing stable of value priced GPS units that are available on the market today. Mio made a splash on the market when they blew the doors off Black Friday last year and went on to sell thousands of Mio C310x units. The C220 is a follow-up model that tries to update and compete at the ~$200 price point, which I will tell you already, it does well. The Mio C220 is the anchor in an ever-growing line of GPS units that were previewed at the CES 2007 including the forthcoming C320 and C520 widescreen units. I am looking forward to reviewing them too.
The Mio C220 has a clean lined design that has a single button on the top right side to turn the unit on and off. The unit is obviously not white, which was amazingly a relatively common complaint from users. The unit has a mini-USB plug on the bottom that powers the C220 while driving through the 12V power chord. The windshield mount is above average, and fairly easy to use, although it took a while to get used to. The landing zone is smaller than others in that it is a couple of clips on the bottom, so you will actually have to pay attention when doing this; it’s not a slam dunk that you can do while blindfolded. To actually mount to the windshield, you have a cam action lever that is easy to use. I like this better than the rotating variety where you need to slide a tab to get the unit to adhere. That requires holding the unit against the windshield with a bit more force when rotating. The lever action has you pushing against the windshield, which is a natural action that keeps the unit in place while sticking the thing to the windshield.
The unit has an on-board rechargeable battery that almost all GPS units come with these days. I was able to drive more than 2 hours without a charge, and this included on and offs. The screen is moderately bright, and not the brightest I have ever seen. Very passable in all but the most direct sunlight.
The navigation interface hasn’t changed dramatically from the Mio C310x generation. It’s still a decent interface that is better than most other offerings out there, not the best, but one that I don’t hesitate to recommend to buyers. The unit runs on Mio Map 3.2 and the C220 features the biggest and best change, which is the inclusion of the newest TeleAtlas maps (ver. 2006.10). TeleAtlas had a tough time up until late last year, as they had a dual map data system on the back-end that they finally merged and created what appears to be a very up to date data set. I mean hey, it finally has my street included in it, so it must be good, right? No, really, I share in the frustration that others had when they were in a similar situation and didn’t have their street or commonly navigated streets in the database. It’s an ongoing issue that will be fixed by real-time updates. That capability is a ways off, but have faith.
Start Somewhere Else - The Mio also has the ability to start a route somewhere else. Advanced and seldom used, it can help you when you are armchair quarterbacking your route planning. It helps me when I am planning out strategies of multi-part trips. First step is to pull up your starting destination, be it an address, city center, or Point of Interest.
C220RouteOverview.jpgWhen you do have a route, you can get a route summary, which includes the key information about the trip including duration in time, miles and lists a few icons relevant to the trip like the fact that you are taking the interstate (shown here), Toll Road, etc.
Picking your route is fairly easy and you are supplied with good choices in the Points of Interest category, including the ability to do a basic search by typing the name from just about anywhere in the POI tree. When you are at a location and in the “Map” screen it is easy to tap the menu button, and save that location as a POI in a category of your choice. So, we are heading out to a lot of playing fields these days, which are not necessarily on the POI list; so I am able to mark them and stick them into a POI category. The process is a bit long, but once you learn; it's good.
The Mio Map interface has robust POI and routing capabilities for a value model. Overall, I think that the POI selection is solid and up-to-date. There are some advanced features that aren’t found in some other units at much higher prices. I’ll admit though that this can send beginners into a tailspin, but if you are up to the task, the capabilities are pretty powerful. To start, the Mio C220 allows you to change your reference point when you are looking for a POI. Not bad, most units allow for this. I like the implementation as you don’t have to choose each time you look for a POI, where you want your reference point. Most of the time you are looking for a POI around where you are. They need to add “Along Route” to the option list. This is a big help when you are on a road trip and need to stop for something, food, fuel, etc
Another aspect that I like about the Mio POI dataset is the inclusion of phone numbers for POI listings. This can be invaluable when on the road and you need to get in touch with the hotel to check for room availability or that store to check the hours.
The Mio C220 is a serious contender at the value end of the market with solid features that make it a good value. The speed of its satellite acquisition and its quicker route generation is a big plus. There are a lot of models that use the iGo interface, differentiating themselves as best they can with hardware and a few selections on how they customize and implement the iGo interface. Mio has done a better job than most with the C220 by getting a solid piece of hardware and making selections about how to customize the interface to make sure that it performs without issue. The new maps are a big plus and I am happy with them; I have yet to see a competitive advantage for either TeleAtlas or NAVTEQ at this point; said another way, new models equipped with the TeleAtlas maps are not at a disadvantage anymore. The question of screen brightness has come up several times in various online postings, and I see it this way: The Mio C220 screen is not the brightest, but in all but the worst conditions it works well for me. To me the advantage of so many other features on the C220 far outweighs this slight blemish when comparing to other units in this price range. I see this as a pretty good value.