Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mio C220 review


UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide or check out our other Mio GPS reviews.

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.

The Mio DigiWalker C220 has pre-loaded maps of all 50 United States, a 3.5″ touch screen, SiRFstar III chipset and over 3.5 million points of interest (POIs).

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.

Compare prices on the Mio C220

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
  • 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
    order however.

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

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other Mio C220 resources

Compare prices on the Mio C220 at these merchants:


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. i have recently perchased c220 and so far am quite impressed..this is my first encounter with one. i work for dish network and out in the field i have spent hours searching for addresses that we are given.. and bad directions from the customer.
    so far i have found every customer i have been given. there are some addresses that will not show if they are too new to the system.. but it will find that roads usually.
    the one thing i have found was the cd that comes with it is dvdrom. i do not have that capability at this time.. so i had to get on the internet and down load all the user manuals. plus i have to find a usb cord for it that is not supplied. im still learning the ins and outs and so far i am finding way more pluses than minueses.

  2. lari juhola says:

    Can you help me?
    Mio C220
    A navigation device has not been detected please connect your pna to your pc and reset.
    Screen is gray and which text.
    Tap the target firmly and accurately at each location on the screen.
    The target will continue to move until the screen is aligned.
    What i do?

  3. Lari,
    It’s not clear exactly what the problem is. Have you tried calling Mio support?

  4. ABSOLUTELY NO SUPPORT. I have had the C220 almost 3 years and have e-mailed and called about updates–NONE. It does not list major REST STOPS on interstates (I55) and some of the restaurants listed in the POI’s in my area have been closed for 20 years. I have sent in many ROAD CHANGES/ADDITIONS, but still no updates.


  6. I think you’re out of luck, as I don’t believe Mio supports these any more, due to a termination of their relationship with the map provider.

  7. pleace tell me if i can used another sd card of other gps mark or exclusive for the tipe of gps.


  8. Theoretically, I think you could hack it and get into Windows CE and then load other software. Suggest you look here…

    Better suggestion: Ditch it and get a newer unit from a different company.

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