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Mio 168 DigiWalker
Full featured Pocket PC with built-in GPS receiver

GPS 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 GPS solution.

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.

-Kirk Linsky

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