I’ve been trying out the Mio C230 for the past week or so. Also know as the Mio DigiWalker C230, this unit updates the C220, adding one thing most low-end units don’t have — text to speech. This means that you’ll get “turn left on Oak Street in 200 feet” rather than just “turn left in 200 feet.” It also offers a much brighter screen than that of the C220, along with pre-loaded maps of all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, Mio giveth and Mio taketh away. This unit has “more than one million point of interest (POI) locations” according to Mio, compared to the C220’s more robust database of 3.5 million POIs. This is disappointing, but is probably a balancing act, allowing Mio to offer these units at bargain basement prices. If you want both text-to-speech AND more POIs, you might want to move up to the Mio C520.
One other point about Mio’s rapidly expanding product line (for dyslexic readers out there) — don’t confuse this unit with the Mio DigiWalker C320 GPS Receiver, available exclusively at Radio Shack. The C320 does NOT offer text-to-speech, but it does add an MP3 player, a wider screen and has 1.7 million POIs.
Now that we have that out of the way, on to the details of the Mio C230. It is so close to the Mio C220 that I won’t duplicate everything in that review; instead, I’ll try to dig a little deeper and cover some aspects of the interface that I didn’t get around to in that post.
Mio C230 interface
I’ve said before that Mio offers lots of options and the ability to customize their units. But this comes at a price. Their units aren’t as intuitive as a Garmin or TomTom. This isn’t necessarily good nor bad, but it does impact who should buy a Mio versus another brand. If you want lots of options and don’t mind plowing through multiple menus to get them, this could be a great little unit for you. If you want something drop dead easy, buy a Garmin nuvi instead.
The “Cockpit” screen, shown above, is the main navigation screen.
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 button that will take you to the main menu. The
three pale green fields in between can be customized with your choice
of the following:
- Distance to destination
- Distance to next via point
- Time to destination
- Time to next via point
- Time to next maneuver
- Arrival at next via point
- Arrival at destination
There are two interface items that I find particularly unintuitive, though once you “get it,” they work fine. One is the “Follow” button, shown below. This comes up under certain circumstances, such as when you browse the map. Pressing the follow button brings the map back to your current GPS position.
The other confusing item is the Cursor menu, consisting of the bottom row of buttons in the screen shot shown below. This menu appears when you select a destination to navigate to or when you tap a location on the map. Which buttons show varies a bit depending upon whether you start in cockpit or map view and whether or not an active route is already planned.
Here are the button functions:
- Route to – Navigates to the point you selected on the map
- Add Via – Inserts the selected point as a Via in the active route
- Remove Via – Removes the Via point at or near the cursor
- Continue – Adds a destination to a route
- Start – Uses the selected point as the departure point when planning a route
- Add cam – Lets you add a speed/safety camera
- Edit cam – Allows you to edit or delete a speed/safety camera at or near the cursor
- Add POI – Lets you add a POI
- POI – Opens the list of POIs near the cursor
Unfortunately, when you begin navigation from the map screen, the “cockpit” does not automatically appear.
Mio C230 pros
- As I said in my introduction, this unit offers text-to-speech and a much brighter screen than the Mio C220.
- For a device as complex as this one, it is fairly intuitive.
- The Find > Address screen defaults to recent cities, and allows you
to search by zip code and navigate to a city center.
- 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.
- A smart keyboard restricts you to valid selections and reduces typos. The keyboard can be set to QWERTY or ABC. This is another upgrade from the Mio C220.
- 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 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.
- As an ethnic food aficionado, I love the fact that restaurant
POI 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 C230 cons
- As noted above, when you begin navigation from the map screen, the “cockpit” does not automatically appear.
- The unit doesn’t tell you if your destination is on the right or left.
- The Mio C230 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.
The Mio C230 is a very nice entry-level GPS. If you are looking for a budget unit, and like lots of options and menus, this could be a great unit for you. The only real downside for this type of user is the paltry one million POIs.
However, if you want an intuitive, no hassle, easy to use unit, get a Garmin nuvi instead. The Mio C230 certainly isn’t the type of unit to get an aging parent that has a hard time figuring out cell phone menus.
More Mio C230 reviews
- The first consumer-authored Mio C230 reviews have been posted at Amazon.
- GPS Lodge has posted a very thorough Mio C230 review.
- CNet gives a 6.7 out of 10 rating in their Mio C230 review. Consumer reviews are being posted there as well.
- Computer Shopper gives a 7 out of 10 rating in their Mio C230 review.
- The Gadegteer reviews the Mio C230.
- This Mio C230 review compares it to the Garmin nuvi 350.
- A brief but positive Mio C230 review.
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Mio C230 resources
- Get the Mio C230 owners manual in one of several languages.
- Mio C230 FAQs.
- There is a Mio message forum at GpsPasSion.
- There is also a Mio forum at yourNAV.
- And a Mio message forum at ILoveMyMio.com.
- A Mio tips blog.
- A Mio C230 unlock hack (updated version).
- Once you do that, try geocaching with the C230.
- MioMagic is a third-party Mio POI manager.
- The official Mio C230 web page.
Compare prices on the Mio C230 at these merchants:
- Check the current Mio C230 price at Amazon.
- Buy the
Mio DigiWalker C230 Portable Automotive GPS System
- Get the Mio C230 for an amazing price on eBay.