Moving In and Out
By Seow Tein Hee
GPS devices are designed with navigation in mind, bringing you from point A to B with no fuss and frills, leaving you free to focus on the roads instead of plotting the most viable route as you drive. But a successful GPS device is one that goes beyond route plotting. Satellite locking speeds, accuracy of maps, ease of user interface and speed of rerouting, these are just a few criteria that one should look out for in choosing a worth GPS device. With that said, we take on another personal navigation device and to be exact, the Mio C320b 4.3" Car Navigation System for a ride.
As with most navigation devices, the C320b comes with accessories such as an in-car charger, a car holder, an AC charger and a USB cable to connect the C320b to your PC to update the maps. The car holder has flexibility spelled all over it, allowing you to adjust both the vertical and horizontal axis to attune the device to the optimum viewing position.
The C320b comes with a 4.3" touchscreen display at QVGA resolution of up to 480 x 272 pixels. Sunlight glare is not an issue here as we were able to view the interface clearly and easily on the generous 4.3" screen, even on brightly lit days. The issue was with the touchscreen sensitivity. At times, we mistyped a few letters on the full QWERTY keyboard, due in part to the closeness of each letter and the lag we experienced after a specific letter was entered.
The core focus of a GPS device, as we have mentioned numerous times, is the speed of its GPS chipset, and its map accuracy. The C320b is powered by a SiRF GPS III module with up to 20 channels, and in our tests, satellite lock was fast even on a cloudy day, taking no more than 30 seconds to lock and calculate the route with its 400MHz processor. This definitely scored well in the speed tests, and thus we move on to map accuracy.
Out of the box, the 320b is bundled with the latest Tele Atlas maps, and as we navigated through the island, the voice navigation was prompt and accurate. Through certain smaller roads, we found ourselves entirely dependent on the voice navigation, which should have been the case since the eyes should be on the roads anyway.
With regards to spot-on location tagging, the C320b managed to give us an accurate location detection, thus directions and prompts were adequately well-timed for those last minute detours. When it comes to rerouting, the C320b manages to catch on to a detour and gives you the next optimal route in less than 2 seconds.
Beyond all the routing fanfare, the C320b also comes with the standard points of interest (POI) that's fixed to your locality. Performing a search on the C320b doesn't take much effort either, though you'll have to take care to be specific with your search terms to avoid having too many search results. Beyond the navigation aspects, the C320b also comes with a SD card slot and is a multimedia player too, which is only pertinent when you aren't using the C320b for navigation purposes.
The Finishing Line
There is a question that should be addressed, with regards to the practicality of stand-alone GPS devices. We've seen a slew of mobile phones that comes with integrated GPS chipsets and aided by A-GPS, giving a navigation experience close to what one gets with stand-alone devices. But ultimately, at the end of the day, there is something to be said for a dedicated device. So if you are willing to fork out S$399 for the Mio 4.3" Car Navigation System, you'll be getting the speed of satellite lock and maps accuracy that is part and parcel of a specialized navigation device.