As GPS prices fall, Mio is rising as a top contender in the affordable-navigation arena. For less than $300, the Mio DigiWalker C220 works right out of the box and gets you where you need to go with little hassle. While we have a few quibbles (like no live traffic, a less-than-spectacular screen, and no external volume controls), the C220 is perfect for the avid car renter or the family that wants a multi-vehicle GPS device.
Mio aced the design test with the C220. Measuring 4.2 x 3.2 x 0.9 inches, its compact structure and light weight of 3.9 ounces makes this device extremely portable and easy to pack in a carry-on. The rectangular-shaped design is sleek and simple. Its only external button is for power. You'll find an external antenna plug on top, a mini USB charging port on the bottom, and an SD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right. We couldn't be happier about the integrated GPS receiver, which makes worrying about the extra bulk of moving antennas a non-issue. You can control all the other functions on the responsive, 3.5-inch, 65,000-color touchscreen.
Because it has no AC power adapter, we had to wait until we got in the car to connect the device to the included DC car charger. Once we got in the driver's seat, we were ready to go in less than five minutes. We just had to insert the SD Card, preloaded with U.S. maps and 3.5 million points of interest, then power on the device. Once we secured the C220 to the windshield with the included vehicle mount, we set the language to English and entered our first destination to a local New Jersey driving range from the Recreation Points of Interest menu. The device's interface was extremely easy to use. Even with the device at arm's length away on the window shield, we were able to quickly maneuver through menus and didn't find ourselves clicking the wrong buttons. The sunlight made the screen hard to read without our sunglasses on, but changing the angle of the C220 helped.
En route to the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex in Clark, New Jersey, the cockpit mode showed the route information, including arrowed directionals, estimated time of arrival, speed, and a 2D or 3D map. We turned the volume all the way up, but because there isn't an external volume button, we had to flip back to the settings menu to do so. The C220 picked up a signal immediately, and the receiver did a good job of keeping a lock on the GPS signal. We found the immediate voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions easy to follow, but they were extremely hard to hear over our radio, which wasn't playing all that loudly. Even when the C220's volume was set at the highest level, we had to turn our music off completely. The other option is to turn off the voice commands, which we also liked, but that's not the safest way to drive.
While navigating to the driving range, we found that you can steer clear of a given area (say, for a known sporting event), by hitting the Avoid button and choosing from a list of alternative options. There's no live traffic option, however. Rerouting after a missed turn was quick, but we wish there were a button for letting the device know we were taking a detour or making a quick stop since the machine kept redirecting us to our destination when we went just a block out of our way to get some coffee.
We arrived at our destination without getting lost and easily arrived home by clicking the Home button, which we saved prior to leaving. On the return route the device said we had reached our destination about a half a minute too early.
Although you can keep the device powered on via the DC charger, it lasts about four hours unplugged, so you don't have to. We were impressed by the local search option, which let us search for the closest drug store. Though it doesn't have a dedicated pedestrian mode, we had no problem using the device on foot, as we navigated our walk through downtown Beverly Hills during a trip to Los Angeles.
If you're willing to spend more for a a bigger screen and more extras, we recommend the Magellan Maestro 4040. But the Mio DigiWalker C220 is a solid budget pick for getting you where you need to go.
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