Back to Mio

I returned the Nuvi 350 GPS I bought a few days ago, and picked up a Mio C520.

It was $50 more than the Nuvi, but it’s a higher-resolution widescreen device, with Bluetooth, and with all the MioMap features I found lacking on the Nuvi.  And it boots up instantly.

The one feature that really made a big difference, was that the Mio would give you a hint as to which side of the road you needed to be on for the next turn, and driving in Montreal I found this to be incredibly useful.  When highway exits could be on either side, having the GPS show you that the exit is on the left 10km in advance means you’re ready for the exit when you reach it.

Now, I complained about Mio’s routing.  So why did I go back?

The TeleAtlas map that comes with the C520 I picked up is a much newer map than the one in the C310x.  The US map is probably the same one they’re updating the C310x to, and maybe the same one they’ll someday update the C310x to in Canada.  It still doesn’t have my street on it, but it does have a lot more details in my area, and the POIs are hugely improved.

(I tried copying the Canada.fbl map file from the C520 over to the C310x, but the MioMap app on the C310x refuses to read it; it says the map is locked).

There are still places where the Mio makes bad suggestions as to what route to take, hugely favouring highways, and I think I’ve figured out why.

In the US, the Mio GPS’s will show you the current speed limit; in Canada, they don’t.  If this means the map doesn’t contain the speed limit data, then that would explain why it always tries to route you to a highway:  It thinks the highway speed limit is 50% or so faster. 

We have some significant arterial roads in Ottawa whose speed limit is 80km/h, and while I’m driving on these roads, the ETA shown on the C520 is constantly dropping.  This indicates that I’m driving a lot faster along this road than it estimated I would be. 

So that’s the problem; what’s the solution?  Well, there are 3 routing modes in MioMap:  Fast, Short, and Economical.  Fast mode doesn’t work well without speed limit data.  Short sounds good, but it’s rarely what you want as it will have you cutting across every little side street if it saves you a few meters.  But Economical seems like a good balance between the two.

In routing around Ottawa I’ve found the Economical setting generally does a pretty good job – as good as the Garmin unit with the NAVTEQ maps for the routes I’ve tried.  So that’s my solution.

Plus, I’ve discovered, and I’m spamming them with updates.  I don’t know how long it will take for these updates to make it back into a GPS device in my hands, but chances are in 3 years I’ll still be using a GPS and there’s a good chance it will have TeleAtlas maps, so it’s worth submitting updates now.