Mio C310s GPS

I picked up a Mio C310s GPS just before Christmas, and tried it out during our trip to the family’s place in Southern Ontario. It’s an impressive little device.

I’d never heard of Mio, but Staples was selling the C310S and had it on sale for $229.  For a small colour GPS, $229 is an incredible price.

I kind of expected it to suck, but it really didn’t.  The interface is fast, the GPS chipset (the SiRF Star III) determines your location very quickly, and the reception is excellent.  The GPS doesn’t need to be on the dash in the van to triangulate; it even managed to pick up a signal indoors.  It has a built-in battery that charges using a standard USB connector – very handy since my phone charges using the same connector. 

One thing that surprised me about the C310S is that it’s based on Windows CE .NET 4.1, according to a sticker on the bottom of the unit.  You never see the traditional Windows CE user interface; it’s a completely custom interface.  And there’s never any of the slowness that I’ve come to expect from CE devices.  It takes my SMT5600 smartphone around a minute to boot up, but about 5 seconds after hitting the reset button on the C310s, it’s ready to go.

But, in the end, I returned it.

There were two reasons for my returning it.  The main one is that it doesn’t support geocaching.  There is no way to enter coordinates and navigate to them; you can only enter street addresses.  I never considered a GPS wouldn’t let you do this, if the C310S can do it, it’s managed to elude me.

And the second is the simplicity of it’s software.  Not simple as in “easy to use”, which it certainly is, but it’s lack of capability.

Here’s a common scenario:  You’re zipping down the highway and notice you’re low on gas.  You can ask the GPS to find you a gas station, but the only options for sorting them is on distance from your current point and distance from your destination.  I’d rather go to a gas station that’s 10km ahead of me than one that’s 5km behind me, but making this determination is very difficult.

There’s a C310X that is basically the same hardware platform with different software; I’d be curious to try that out.

The C310S, in the meantime, is an awesome GPS for the price.  It just didn’t quite work for me.

I am looking forward to the Magellan CrossoverGPS.  It’s not shipping yet, but from what I’ve found online, it has everything I miss in the C310s, including both street and topographical maps, in roughly the same form factor.  I just hope it’s as snappy as the C310s.

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