Mio Navman 470 satnav
Review With an eye to entry-level ownership, Mio has added two new affordable satnavs to its range: the Navman 470 and 475. The cheaper 470 will set you back less than 100 nicker and comes with a 4.3in screen. For £110, the 475 offers access to TMC traffic data which isn't featured on the 470, the model I've had stuck to my windshield for the last week.
Streetwise: Mio's Navman 470
Before we get down to brass tacks, its worth considering the value the 470 represents. TomTom's Start2, the cheapest model in its current range, carries an RRP of £120 and for that you only get a device with a 3.5in screen. The 470 is also thinner and at 152g its one of the lightest satnavs with a screen of this size, making it easy to slip into a coat pocket or bag.
A few external features of the 470 are worthy of special mention. Firstly, the windscreen mount is very compact and easy to affix. Secondly, it's extremely simple to mount and dismount the main unit from the cradle. Finally the on/off slider is much easier and faster to use than the more common press-down-and-hold type button, especially when the unit is in situ.
The way in which both a TomTom and a Navman will get you from A to B is likely to be rather similar because Mio has licenced TomTom's IQ routes system. This system replaces the usual journey time calculation, based on 85 per cent of the road speed limit, with real world data culled from TomTom users. In a nutshell, it means the driving times estimates for a given route at a given time of day are based on actual road usage data, rather than on a theoretical model, which should improve the accuracy of routes calculated as being the fastest.
Sonically clear and pocketable too
New to the Navman is a feature called LearnMe that, over a period of time, studies your driving habits and preferences and modifies its route calculations accordingly. I didn't notice LearnMe's ways coming into play and suspect it needs far more data about a user's driving habits than I could provide it with during a week long test.
Navigation technology aside, the 470 is very easy to use. The 480 x 272 resistive screen is crisp and colourful to look at and reacts smartly and accurately to taps, while the UI is both simple and intuitive.
Particularly useful is the Near Me screen that lets you search for the nearest food, petrol, parking, hotel, ATM or hospital at the touch of a button. However, it did prove oblivious to a branch of Subway less than 500 yards from my home. When looking up points of interest, the QuickSpell predictive keyboard, more often than not, worked out what I was after before I got more than half way through typing the name. All in all, it's one of the simplest satnavs to use that I have encountered.
Near Me flags up a choice of local amenities
On the road things continued to impress. The single speaker was loud and clear while TruMaps graphics were commendably simple and easy to read. The map design is more artistically sparse than that used by TomTom and it is a style I prefer. A quick tap on the top right corner of the screen opens up a translucent panel on the right hand side that displays the distance to your destination, current speed, ETA and so forth, without obscuring too much of the map.
Only single destinations can be configured, not multiple journeys
Vocal guidance was comprehensive, timely and succinct, with road numbers read out as single digits rather than as hundreds and thousands and the accompanying road names also enunciated. Likewise, route recalculation was both swift and unobtrusive. With an eye to keeping your license clean, the 470 comes preloaded with details of safety camera locations and can be set to issue warnings if you exceed the speed limit. UK camera site updates are free for 12 months, but after that will cost around £18 a year.
The 470 uses the now almost ubiquitous SiRFStar InstantFix II technology. This delivers very rapid GPS signal acquisition and it supports Google's Send-to-GPS which lets Windows users send addresses and directions from Google Maps directly to the device when its connected to a PC.
Journey times are based on road usage data, offering better estimates
As is the norm these days, you also get graphical Lane Guidance to show exactly which lane you should be in when leaving or joining dual carriageways and motorways and "realistic" 3D Junction Views for a realistic-ish 3D view of complex road junctions. I'm not convinced that these graphic imaging features don't encourage drivers to look at the satnav screen rather than the road ahead, but that's just my opinion. When it came to actual journey calculation and navigation all the deliberately sneaky, obscure and complicated routes I drive in and around Manchester, to try to trip satnavs up, were navigated with unfailing accuracy.
Of course that sub-£100 price does mean sacrificing a few luxuries so you don't get Bluetooth or a choice of guidance voices or a micro SD card slot, which means maps have to be added using the MioMore desktop software and navigation is strictly A-to-B, you can't plan multi-stop journeys.
Incidentally, Mio says it will soon rent out overseas maps. This will be a handy supplement for the infrequent traveller who only uses their satnav outside Blightly whilst on holiday. Yet, at the time of writing I have no details of when this service will go live or how much the rentals will cost.
For under £100 the Navman 470 is a lot of wide screen satnav for the money with a fine 4.3in screen, reliable navigation, user friendly guidance and twit-proof menus. If dodging heavy traffic is a priority the TMC-enabled 475 is worth the extra tenner, but both units make a compelling case for themselves. ®
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