The price of satellite navigation is starting to come down to an affordable level, but does this mean corners are being cut? We put the latest entry-level GPS from Mio to the ultimate test - an Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Bank Holiday driving is horrible at the best of times. On our weekend trip down to Dorset we experienced traffic jams, burnt out camper vans and a closed road, so how did the Mio 268 cope? On the whole, very well. There were some qualms of course, but at the starter price of £300 rather than the normal £500 I suppose you have to expect this.
The model from a design perspective is fairly bog standard. There is a 2.3in colour touch screen and the addition of “quick” buttons down the side of the unit to allow you to zoom in and out and control the cursor if you don’t want to get the screen grubby with your mitts. Failing the keys or your hands the unit also comes with a stylus tucked away in the back. Overall the finish has a slightly plastic feel to it, but nothing that should cause too much concern.
For car travel, the unit sits in a cradle that is suckered to the windscreen (though it’s slightly stronger than the suckers on your average toy Garfield). Our review unit cradle however, had been broken. This meant that when you hit bumps in the road the device would launch itself at you. Whilst we understand that the cradle was broken, it shows how easily it does break - and once broken, becomes nothing but a pain.
Get into the unit and the software is easy to use, although again, not without its faults. The software was identical to The Lowest On The Web unit we tested recently, and it’s obviously the choice of manufacturers when they are making a budget model. Because of that it suffers from the same problems (see review) but the most annoying is that you can’t enter an address by the postcode - presumably they hadn’t licensed Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File Information. This can cause problems if you are (as we were) visiting friends that don’t actually live in the town, but on its outskirts. Yes you can type in the street name but when you don’t have this either, you are reliant upon phoning when you get near (and should remind yourself to write it down next time).
Other gripes were that the software sometimes went a bit mad, asking us to do U-turns every so often and the most confusing one of all was asking us to turn right on the motorway rather than just stay on when the road spilt up ahead.
Getting from A to B was successful and for those travelling to new destinations on a regular basis should see this as a good cheap option for allowing you to do just that.
So did the Mio allow us to get through the bank holiday unscathed? Yes and No. Yes because it did eventually get us there and had it not been for the traffic jams and road closers. No because if I hear “Do a legal U-turn where possible” by that woman on the software again I would throw it out the window - it’s like Bond’s BMW 750 from Tomorrow Never Dies in real life, and it’s totally without the humour when you’re at the wheel. It’s one thing having the navigator nag you to make the next turning (you can turn it off of course), it’s another thing altogether to have the same computerised voice suggesting you should do it every couple of minutes for 3 and a half hours.