Saturday, November 29, 2008

GPS – Mio and Garmin 2008

miotm_rgb_logoI loved my Mio c310 portable navigation device (PND or is it personal navigation device, never mind!). I loved the fact that it ran Windows CE and the mapping software was iGo 2006. The combination of using Windows CE and iGo, provided for a device that had crisp and visually pleasing graphics and an interface that was highly customizable. The c310 had its quirks but at $150 in 2006, it was a steal of a deal and I never got lost. The iGo mapping software is the standard that I hold other PNDs to know.

The biggest problem with the Mio c310 that I had was that the company did not put out map updates often enough and their customer service kinda sucked (just check the number of people who commented on my posts on upgrading the map software and how they could not get any help from Mio and used my post to unbrick their 310s).

Mio with NavMan software (Moov series)So this year I started looking at the Mio’s Moov series of GPS. And boy was I disappointed to learn that they had replaced the iGO mapping platform with the software that used to run on the NavMan devices (I believe Mio acquired NavMan, which is why that is the software that is now packaged on these devices). Now there are a ton of people that think this was a good decision on Mio’s part as the NavMan is simpler to use with far fewer functions and is less customizable (read crippled!). This year Mio had the Moov 500 on sale at RadioShack for $150. With a wide screen layout and text-to-speech (TTS) it is the cheapest full featured GPS on the market. And I would have bought it, if only it had the iGo software running on it. From my very limited testing with the devices screwed down to the desk, I just did not feel like the NavMan software brought anything new to the party. I would have liked to test the device for a week and return it in a week if I didn’t like it, but given the state of the economy, I did not want to buy something that I might have to return and cause a company to take on a loss.

Garmin Nuvi 260So this year, after tons of research, I settled on the Garmin Nuvi 260. This device does not have a wide-screen, but it does have text to speech (which means spoken street names - “Turn right in 100 feet on to Lincoln street”, instead of “turn right in 100 feet”). In addition, Garmin has a good map update policy and you can generally buy new maps every year for around $70. Garmin Nuvi’s also support a browser plugin, that allows you to send locations directly from Google Maps to your device when it is connected to your computer.

My only problems with the Nuvi: The device runs Linux and the graphics are just not crisp. (I felt that was also the same problem that the TomTom’s had). In addition, as someone who loves to tinker with his devices, there are just about zero hacks for the Nuvi(s) (same is true for the TomTom). I just cannot customize the map screen to show me the details that I am interested in and I am stuck with what Garmin decided that I must see while I drive. (On the Mio, I could have current elevation, time to destination, distance to next turn, just about anything that could be computed could be put on the screen).

The pluses for the Nuvi are: Solid map update technology, so you wont need a PhD in computer science to update the device’s firmware or maps. Simple interface – you will never ever need to break out the manual. Has TTS on a low end model. 5 hours of battery – so you can take it out of the car and on your walks around the city.


list of my posts on the Mio -

list of my posts on GPS devices -

1 comment:

Mio Navman M400 said...

I love this unit! My dealer is making me wait until Kenwood puts out a fix for retention of radio memory presets. Design flaw? Quess I have to wait. Nothing else out there even comes close to this technology.