Mio Spirit 695 LM satnav review
Map updates for life – hoorah!
These be tough times for satnav makers when, for under £100, you can pick up a good 4in smartphone like the Huawei Ascend G300 which comes with Google’s ever-evolving and improving free navigation, and even entry-level eight grand motors, like VW’s new Up!, feature low-cost optional navigation packages. To compete satnav makers have to offer more for less, which is exactly what Mio has done with its new Spirit 600 LM series.
Guiding star? Mio's Spirit 695 LM
Currently stuck to the windshield of my
classic old Mercedes I have the middle of the range 695 LM which packs a 5in screen and lifetime map updates – that’s what the LM stands for. All this for under £120.
Externally Mio has adopted a policy of: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This is fine too, because it means you still get the physical menu and pin location buttons to the left of the screen. This design feature is a massive help to the less technically adept.
Once I explained how this all worked to my mum – I usually lose her at the “now, this is the on/off button...” part of the conversation. Instantly declaring it to be an extraordinarily good idea, she especially liked the pin button which takes a fix of wherever you are when you press it and stores it for easy access as a future destination.
Similarly, the menu button takes you directly back to the main menu no matter how deeply you have dug yourself yourself into the admittedly straightforward menu system. Even I find that useful.
Picking a destination has also been fettled with ease of use in mind. All the usual search facilities work perfectly including the keyword search option that I signally failed to trip-up. The intersection option – to pick the exact meeting place of two roads – is a nice idea too.
Next page: IQ test
No thanks, never a Mio again
I have bought Mio kit, and the first thing to disappear were the free map upgrades. So I had a brand new device, the promise of map upgrades and, well, no map upgrades. Tech support couldn't tell me anything else than that the device was of a company they bought and they had not integrated maps yet - well, duh, that's the most vital part of a GPS - and then don't promise what you cannot deliver.
About 4 years later I suddenly got an email I could now buy map updates for the device. Buy, mind you, not get for free for a year as was originally claimed to be included in the purchase price. By that time I'd ditched the things and switched to TomTom on an iPhone, which works great because I rarely forget my phone. Map updates are frequent in mini (download) and macro form (iTunes updates of the whole App) - if they had only stayed away from doing anything with social media inside a device that has to work in a car (generic disadvantage of TomTom is that it requires FAR too much screen interaction - it's clearly not designed by people who use this kit themselves, or who see taking their eyes off the road as a safety problem).
Apropos the feature of repeating the last instruction: I don't know of other devices, but TomTom does it by tapping on the bottom of the screen. It also reduces the volume of any iTunes playback in progress for an announcement, and it shuts up when you have an incoming call (which I tend to avoid - I don't like driving and making calls, even though I have very good handsfree kit)..
So, no more Mio for me. There are better alternatives, alternatives you can actually trust..
I have this test I do on SatNavs. North London to Luton avoiding motorways - if it tells you the fastest route is through St Albans town centre (a town centre - wtf!) then avoid it as it has no inteligence of traffic flows.
But with TomTom coming to Android soon I'm going to wait and see