Full featured Pocket PC with built-in GPS receiver
is seemingly everywhere these days, but up to now you had to get
a dedicated GPS receiver (see our special GPS feature starting
on page 32) to play around with it. Nothing wrong with that, but
wouldn't it be nice to have GPS right on, oh, shall we say...
your Pocket PC? That would be nice and now you can have it in
the Mio 168, the first Pocket PC with integrated GPS receiver
and navigation software. You could, of course, get a Garmin iQUE
3600 which also has a built-in GPS, but that's a Palm device and
comes from a GPS company.
The Mio on the other hand is a 100% true-blue Pocket PC built
by Mitac, one of Taiwan's electronic powerhouses. They know a
thing or two about Pocket PCs, having sold its Mio line of PPCs
and Smartphones in Asia for years. However, this is also a complete
Amazingly, Mitac managed to shoehorn all of that functionality
into a device about the size of the diminutive HP iPAQ h1900 Series,
with a footprint of just 2.7 x 4.4 inches. It's a bit thicker
than the tiny HP, but a lot smaller than the Palm-based Garmin.
The GPS receiver sits in a flap about the size of a thick Compact
Flash card. When not in use you fold it flat against the back
of the Mio. Once you crank up the GPS, it should be folded out
for best reception.
From a hardware perspective, the Mio 168 is just a standard run-of-the-mill
Pocket PC with a handsome matte silver case. It's powered by a
300MHz Intel PXA-255, has 64MB of RAM, 32MB of ROM, and features
a nice 2.5-inch transflective color display that's easy to read
indoors and outdoors. The powerful 1350mAH Li-Ion battery is built-in,
cannot be replaced, and is good for at least three to five hours
between charges, and more in power saving mode. There is a SD
Card slot, a 2.5 mm audio jack, and a fairly powerful speaker.
The Mio 168 comes with the full Premium Edition of Windows Mobile
2003, plus some handy utilities, a picture viewer, and a cool-looking
digital audio player.
The big attraction, of course, is the navigation and mapping software.
It comes on two CDs and you first install the Mio Map Console
on a PC. From there you have access to seven USA maps, each about
200 MB, Canada (33 MB), Hawaii (3 MB), and a very comprehensive
manual in PDF format. The system uses Destinator navigation software,
and map data and a Point-of-Interest database supplied by NAVTECH.
Maps can be transferred to the PC and onto the Mio. Since the
US maps are large, you can create your own maps of smaller areas
to fit available memory.
Once the maps are loaded you fire up the GPS. It takes about a
minute to acquire a signal, and much less to re-acquire it.
The mapping system has a simple icon-driven interface that provides
quick access to all options and settings. Once you've entered
a point of origin and a destination, the system will provide turn-by-turn
driving directions both in print and via voice. You can enter
waypoints while planning a route. Maps are displayed either 2D,
3D, or in bird's eye view. You can zoom in and out, or pan the
map. The Mio comes with a car charger and a flexible arm/suction
cup mount that works very well.
Overall, the GPS system performs admirably. With a Mio as your
companion, you will never get lost. There are times when the signal
is weak and must be re-acquired, but the software always quickly
regroups. With the Mio 168, Mitac has added a whole new dimension
to the Pocket PC experience.