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Mio 610 Portable Navigation

Introduction

GPS Receiver Channels20 (SiRFstarIII), WAAS Enabled
Memory2 GB ROM, 64 MB RAM
Display2.7" TFT with touch screen and 65K colors
Storage formatSD/MMC memory expansion slot
TMC supportYes, with external TMC receiver
Battery1300 mAH Li-ion (up to 5 hours)
USBYes
WeightLess than 4oz (110 grams)
Dimensions2.32 x 3.34 x 0.74"
5.9 x 8.5 x 1.9cm

When I first got my Mio H610, I was intrigued. Here was one of those "kitchen sink" devices that seemed to do a solid job in serving many needs. It is a portable GPS receiver, along with an MP3/video player and a photo viewer, and includes some other utilities. It comes in a package slightly bigger than one of the more modern Palms, and is even designed to look very similar to them.

The screen sizes are the same, if you include the input area on the bottom of the Palm.

In addition to the software, included in the package are a car and AC charger, a car dashboard mounting stick, wrist straps and remote control earbuds. There are three different manuals that come with the product: a quick start guide for the GPS software, a more complete user's guide for the GPS, and a user's guide for everything else. That's a lot of different pieces for operating the unit! One of the most noticeable missing pieces is a stylus - you could use one, particularly if you have large fingers, but the touch screen works reasonably well under most circumstances.

The navigation features maps of the US and Canada, and includes turn directions for different modes of travel - such as by car, by bike or on foot - which is an interesting twist. Like other GPS units, it features voice prompts that can narrate your turns, but that can be turned off if they start to get annoying.

Battery life is supposedly five hours, but can vary widely depending on how much you use the GPS. As a music player, I could run it most of the day.

For a unit that is built around navigation, this seems like its weakest feature. The other GPS units that I have used offer much easier user interfaces, and the ability to show you exactly where you are on the earth's surface. (They are much larger, though, and not really something that you would take on a walk or a bike ride.) The Mio is a bit more cumbersome to get to this screen - you have to choose "Cockpit" and wait a few minutes before the signals synch up with the satellites.

The unit can track your route as you travel about, calculate a route to your destination, provide points of interest such as gas stations and restaurants, and do other standard "GPS sorts of things". Entering an address is done with an on-screen QWERTY keypad that is a bit cumbersome to use, given the lack of a stylus and the small size of the individual keyboard letters.

There are several different views of the map screen, including 2D and 3D views, daylight and night-time views - the latter more of a curiosity than anything useful - and several zoom levels that can show you street-by-street information.

Part of the problem with the Cockpit screen is that it is so full of icons, buttons, and other information that it is hard to easily parse. I definitely wouldn't recommend using the Mio while driving or biking, unless you stop first - it is a real distraction. I had a hard enough time walking around with it that sometimes I had to stop on the sidewalk to understand what it was telling me. To give you an idea of what you are in for, the user manual is a must read and is more than 80 pages - written in broken and badly translated English.

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