I’ve been trying out the Mio C220 for the past couple of weeks, and I am convinced that it is a great value. Currently available for around
$185 $165 (and the price may drop even more between now and the holidays), this unit will likely be one of the market leaders in terms of budget car navigation systems.
There are no frills here — no MP3 player, Bluetooth or text-to-speech (so you’ll get “turn left in 200 feet” instead of “turn left in 200 feet on Highland Drive”). For those features, you’ll need to step up to the Mio DigiWalker C520.
Some reviewers have complained about the screen visibility, and it’s not the brightest. But I think it is generally quite legible, even in bright sunlight. It is however, difficult for me to read it in bright light while wearing sunglasses, and I nearly always wear sunglasses while driving. In the end, the screen probably is the weakest feature of the unit.
UPDATE: A new unit, the Mio C230, improves the screen and adds text-to-speech, but drops the number of POIs to around one million.
The Mio C220 has lots of features in common with the C520, including the fact that it is highly customizable. I’ll have more details in the pros and cons list further down the review.
Mio C220 routing
Generally speaking, the Mio C220 does a fine job of routing, though I did not test it out in a highly urbanized environment. It seems to utilize the same routing algorithms as the C520, which I did test out in the city.
In my small town, I noticed a tendency to try to redirect me back to a major thoroughfare if I was taking a back street to my home, even though I was only blocks away from my destination. My nuvi 660 did better; not only did it not redirect me back to the highway, it successfully called out the turn I wanted to make that would parallel the main drag.
This is just a minor annoyance though. I expect that the Mio C220 will perform well in most cases.
Mio C220 split screen interface
The split screen is a nice feature. Having a bit of a lead foot, I especially like being able to see my current speed on the main navigation screen.
One place the C220 differs from the C520 is in this split screen interface. The split screen on the C220 doesn’t have as many fields as the C520’s, but it is quite adequate for most people’s needs, and it can be customized as well.
In the C220, the split screen interface is dubbed the “cockpit” view, shown below. You can also use the entire screen to view the map for route planning. The top most portion of the “cockpit” shows the next maneuver. Below that is the distance to next turn. At the bottom is a menu button. The three pale green fields in between can be customized with your choice of the following:
- Distance to destination (default)
- Time to destination (default)
- Distance to next via point
- Time to next via point
- Time to next maneuver
- Speed limit
- Arrival at next via point
- Arrival at destination (default)
I had problems with the cockpit not appearing once satellites were locked and a destination entered. This is remedied by selecting “Menu” from the map screen, then “Main,” then “Cockpit.”
The Mio C220 map and routing interface is identical to that of the Mio C520 so I’m referring you to that portion of the C520 review for details.
Other Mio C220 features
A couple of other things warrant mentioning before I get into the pros and cons list. I’m listing these here because there’s both good and bad things about them.
- The Mio C220 has 3.5 million points of interest (POIs). It’s not as good as units with 6 million+, but it’s an adequate number.
- An “Optimize” function supposedly solves the traveling salesman problem, finding the shortest route when multiple Vias are included. I’m not sure how sophisticated the algorithm is for this though; it gave me some strange and inefficient results. You can easily move Vias around in a route if you don’t like the optimized
With that, lets look at the pluses and minuses of this unit…
Mio C220 pros
- For a device as complex as this one, it is amazingly intuitive.
- The Find > Address screen defaults to recent cities, and allows you to search by zip code and navigate to a city center (useful for vias).
- Multi-segment routing.
- You can avoid a maneuver or route segment, allowing you to customize a route with your preferences.
- In case of traffic problems, a “Bypass” function allows you to leave your planned route, rejoining it after your choice of 1, 2, 5, 10 or 20 miles.
- Unlike my Garmin nuvi, it allows you to conduct a full search while navigating. If you are searching for a POI while navigating with a nuvi, it will kick you out of the search, returning you to the map screen each time a turn is announced. Then you have to start the search over. With the Mio, verbal directions for your current destination continue while you search for a new destination.
- Safety cameras can be added. If you know where the red light cameras in your area are located, and you have the time and inclination, you can add them yourself.
- The mount seems sturdier and is easier to use than that of the Mio C520.
- You can mute the voice commands directly from the map screen. This is a very nice feature when you get off the highway for a break and don’t want to hear a constant “recalculating.”
- As noted above, you can change cockpit fields.
Presentation and management of POIs is well thought out:
- Major POI categories such as lodging and shopping default to a series of screens showing major chains, making it incredibly easy to find the nearest Holiday Inn, Costco, etc.
- As an ethnic food aficionado, I love the fact that restaurant subcategories include Creole-Cajun, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese. Then there is the Microbrewery / Beer Garden selection!
- You can customize which POIs show on the map, allowing you to show some without overwhelming the map with clutter.
Mio C220 cons
- As previously mentioned, the screen visibility, while okay, isn’t great. It is the weakest feature of the unit.
- The C520’s “smart” keyboard is missing here (a smart keyboard restricts you to valid selections and reduces typos).
- As I mentioned earlier, the “cockpit” does not always appear automatically when satellites locks and navigation begins.
- The unit doesn’t tell you if your destination is on the right or left.
- The Mio C220 doesn’t come with a case.
- While you can record tracklogs, there is no simple way to extract them. Here’s the type of hacks people are using to do it.
- There is no way to create routes on a PC and transfer them to the device.
- The small screen is a little cluttered. Personally, I don’t find it as visually appealing as the Garmin nuvi interface.
- When you power off the unit, you are given a choice of “restart” or “suspend,” which always makes me feel like the unit is never really off.
This is a great little GPS unit for the price. It is not quite as intuitive as a Garmin or as simple to operate, but it does give you more choices for customization. If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend this unit. If you’re not, you might want to get a Garmin nuvi or the Mio C520.
More Mio C220 reviews
- GPS Lodge has posted a positive Mio C220 review.
- PC Magazine has also posted a Mio C220 review.
- Many consumer-authored Mio C220 reviews have been posted at Amazon.
- CNet gave a weak 5.3 (out of 10 rating) in their review of the Mio C220, though consumer reviews there were much more kind.
- CNet UK liked the Mio C220 more, giving it a 7.9 rating.
- GpsPasSion has a Mio C220 review thread going.
- Navigadget has also posted a positive Mio DigiWalker C220 review.
- Consumer-authored reviews of the Mio C220 have been posted at PC World.
- Ubergizmo has posted a brief Mio DigiWalker C220 review.
- GadgetSpeak reviews the Mio C220.
- SlashGear has posted a Mio DigiWaker C220 review.
- Mr. Gadget Man reviews the Mio C220 from down under.
- Laptop Magazine gives 3-1/2 out of 5 stars in their Mio C220 review.
- BCCHardware has also posted a Mio C220 review.
- Mio C220 reviews at Epinions.
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Mio C220 resources
- Get the Mio C220 owners manual in the language of your choice.
- Compare the Mio C220 and Mio C520.
- Mio C220 FAQ’s.
- There is a Mio message forum at GpsPasSion, which includes a thread on Mio C220 tips and tricks.
- There is also a Mio forum at yourNAV.
- And a Mio message forum at ILoveMyMio.com, which includes an extensive Mio C220 section.
- A Mio tips blog.
- MioMagic is a third-party Mio POI manager.
- The official Mio C220 web page.
- Here’s a Mio C220 video review from YouTube:
Compare prices on the Mio C220 at these merchants:
- Check the current Mio C220 price at Amazon.
- Find a great deal on the
Mio DigiWalker C220 Portable Automotive GPS System
- Get the Mio C220 for an amazing price on eBay.