I wanted to get a review of the Mio C310x up for all the folks still considering buying this unit. Mio had the C310 out earlier this year and up versioned the unit by putting in a better set of navigation software that is based on iGo software from PDAMill. The software has a nice interface and on the C310x, a fairly straightforward layout that allows the user to navigate quickly and easily without jumping through too many hoops. The unit is small and thin enough to fit in my shirt pocket, and is a generally well-designed GPS. It’s flat and less than an inch thick, has a set of buttons down the right side that instill confidence due to the rubberized texture, and a slight bulge out the top signaling the inclusion of the SiRF Star III chipset under the hood. In my use, the unit is good, and when balanced against the rock bottom price, is a great value. There are a few things that I’d like to fix, but on balance I am pretty happy with the Mio C310x. I think that Black Friday was Mio’s coming out party, and I’d like to welcome them to the big time of GPS models on the market.
Table of Contents
Straight away, the Mio C310X has 1 GB internal ROM memory, which is almost exclusively used for maps. (It also has 64MB of RAM memory for normal operating system purposes.) It has an MP3 player that you can use with your MP3’s when loaded onto an optional SD card and placed in the Mio C310x’s SD card slot located on the top of the unit. The Mio C310x comes with an AC adapter, a 12volt plug and a mini USB cable that all plug into the mini USB outlet on the bottom of the unit.
Update: The Mio C310x will not come with an AC charger going forward. The inclusion of the charger was a, um, mistake on the factory's part, and won't be included in the future. No big loss in my mind. Note that the box does not show an AC charger as coming with the unit.
The unit is based on a 3.5 inch touchscreen and down the right side of the unit it has four rubberized buttons: on/off, menu, volume up and volume down. The unit has an external antenna port, and comes with an internal battery. I’ve gotten several hours of use out of the Mio unplugged, but haven’t clocked its capabilities. The mount, easily attaches to the windshield and the Mio C310X easily snaps into the holder, with one handed operation. The unit ships with a Map and transfer utility disk which requires a PC and DVD ROM drive to read. Of course it comes with a windshield mount and a disk to adhere it to your dash if that's what you like, or are required to do by law.
The SiRF star III chipset pulled in satellites fairly well, and locked onto them without issue while I have been using the Mio C310x. I do wish that the time to first fix was a bit faster when I come out in the morning, but I find a brief wait while punching up a route in the morning takes care of the time lag that the Mio needs to find the satellites.
Overall, navigating with the Mio C310x is pretty solid. You can see some caveats below on TeleAtlas Maps and Routing. I still think that for the majority of navigation that this unit gets you there with confidence. There are faults that I am willing to forgive and will be able to deal with them while going on the road. The navigation software is essentially the same as the Mio H610 unit I recently reviewed.
You are able to navigate to addresses, Points of Interest, and coordinates, which should get you just about anywhere you want to go. When you tap on the screen, a menu bar pops up from the bottom of the screen to allow you to pick from several options: Route To, Add as A Via in the middle of a trip, Continue to this location after the current destination is reached, Add a speed camera to the database, and Add a custom POI to your database. This is a lot of functionality in a little space with a simple action; I like it.
Through the menus you can also program multi-point destinations and the unit offers clear spoken directions through its small but very loud speaker on the backside of the unit. There is a mute icon on the screen. The screen-based icons are small but very functional, including zoom, satellite status and what I'll call view. By toggling through this icon you get direction of travel up, north up and then "airplane" view which gives you a customizable birds eye view of your route or general area. It's nice to have this ability on the main screen so that you can flip between your main navigation and an overview of your area or route. This really helps to get your bearings when you are traveling a route. The icons are on the small side, so tapping them can be a little tricky.
When navigating I liked to hit the menu button on the right side of the unit that comes back to a navigation system menu. You can quickly tap the Cockpit icon on the bottom right to bring up this useful navigation routing “Cockpit View.” This view is a nice navigation view that shows you data fields on the left side which are programmable. The display shows the upcoming road, as well as things like speed, time to destination, etc. At the left top of the cockpit view, you get a turn indicator for the next turn (left, right, bear left, etc), as well as turn countdown bar that goes vertically down the left side of the screen.
When not in the Cockpit view mode, a the top left of the screen you can tap the "Route" icon which brings up a routing menu allowing you to edit the route as needed, or view an overview of the route as needed.
There is a ton of flexibility to the system and how it is displayed. You have the usual routing options of fastest, shortest, etc. but you also have the ability to show speed limits (mostly for highways, which I found semi-accurate), and the ability to sound an alarm when you exceed the limit by an amount that you set (either as a percentage of the speed limit or a hard number of MPH over the limit). In a nice move, they have included the ability to record a track, essentially a breadcrumb trail for where you go. This allows you to see it on the map, and then export it as a GPX file that can be displayed on a lot of free or inexpensive GPS software. Some will convert this file into a KML file for use in Google Earth. You can then send to friends and show them where you traveled to.
You can program two “Favorites” that come set up as “Home” and “Work”. Off the main menu, you can easily tap these and then “Route to” to get brought home or to work. You can also re-name these into things like “Home” and “Hell” or something similar, depending on what you think of your work, or program it to some other location altogether. To set these, you hit the menu button on the side of the unit, then the “Tools” icon in the upper right corner, then while at the General Settings page, click on “Set Favorite Destinations” where you’ll be able to change the location and the name of the “favorite”. In this General Settings page, you’ll be able to turn on “Automatic Night colors”, warn when speeding, and enable safety cameras, as well as setting if you want the Mio C310x to automatically recalculate a route if you take a wrong turn. I would recommend that you leave this set to automatic as this will let the Mio quickly recalculate a route based on your current location if you make a wrong turn.
Viewing Points of Interest (POI) on the Map
The Mio C310x allows you to see Points of Interest on the screen. Some people like this, others don’t. I think it unfortunately serves as a reminder of the sometimes inaccuracies associated with POI. Anyway, you can get there from the main menu, by clicking on the lower left “menu Icon” then on the Gear “settings”, then on “Manage POI”. In this menu you can select which POI to show and which not to show. When you go back to the map, these icons will show up as you pass them.
Mio uses TeleAtlas maps on the unit, and it comes with the US maps only, not with Canadian maps as previously mentioned here and in several other spots on the internet. The maps are old, and they ship with circa 2005 maps from TeleAtlas, which may make you think that the maps aren’t so out of date, but alas, they are. I am not overly concerned, as I personally think that TeleAtlas is on the move to fix these outages, and I think that we are about to reap the benefits of their actions in the coming months. Expect Mio to release an update in the coming months for the maps on the Mio C310x. Just know that you’ll need to muddle through it for a few months with these maps. For the bargain price I paid for my C310x, I don’t mind.
The routing on the Mio GPS is good, not terrific, but good. Taking a step back, I have to say that GPS units are not yet able to route you locally as well as you can route yourself around your home town. I think that GPS units with user feedback on routing are right around the corner, or at least I hope that it is and I’ll leave it there. Right now, GPS navigation systems are designed to get you from here to there in a reasonably good manner with clear prompts. They are not designed to give you the back road shortcut behind the Mall, taking the road next to the dumpster and hopping the curb at the Denny’s onto Maple Street missing the traffic lights in the middle of town. Only a seasoned local knows that trick! With that said, I think that the routing is good, but I find that it’s a bit weighted towards traveling on highways versus traveling on some local roads to go shorter distances. I have also heard from some readers that the unit has trouble with exit ramps going onto other divided roads. The Mio may give you the wrong exit and ask you to then make a “U-turn” on the divided roadway at the next light to go the correct direction. I have not confirmed this, but in I’ll let you know that this question is out there.
The MP3 Player in the Mio C310x is a nice little extra that can fulfill the need in a pinch. I am not a huge fan of MP3 players in a GPS, because I think that there are other excellent options out there to help you along. The Mio C310X allows you to put MP3’s onto your own SD card and plug it in to listen wither through the speaker or through the headphone jack. The unit will allow you to play music while driving. The control icon buttons are on the small side here.
Review Summary Mio Digiwalker C310x
The Mio C310x has really burst onto the scene this holiday season and has introduced a lot of non-GPS users to the world of GPS navigation. I think that Mio has done a great job at getting a good set of navigation tools into a smart, flat pocketable size that allows you to get from here to there with a few little things you can watch out for. I am perfectly happy to grant Mio a little leeway when they work to bring us a capable navigation system at such unbelievably low prices. There will be some clean up to be done in terms of getting the maps squared away, and potentially improving the routing system to deal with some idiosyncratic behavior on the rare occasion, but overall I am happy with the Mio C310x.
I'll finish with a note about the fact that the Mio C310x is based on WinCE platform, and as such can creatively altered and customized if you wish. This includes some very easy hacks to add Canadian maps, or others to get at the WinCE base and install other items like other voices, other programs like contact managers. You're on your own with this, and I can't help you if you kill your Mio C310x.