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(Pocket-lint) - As criminals find the urge to steal more GPS units, manufactures are finding the urge to make them smaller, so can Mio's entry-level unit, the C210, which is smaller than a tennis ball be the answer? We take a closer look.

The Mio C210 comes with the latest GPS technology; a SiRFstar III GPS receiver and means that you don't always need a direct line of sight for it to work. The unit also includes a 400MHz processor that makes it fairly nippy in performance and 2.7-inch touchscreen for inputting commands.

Maps of UK (or whichever region you are in) come pre-installed on the unit and in addition Mio has included pre-installed maps of Major Roads of Europe so you can always find your way home, be that from Portugal or Sweden.

The interesting titled MRE map covers 24 countries, and includes Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San-Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Vatican.

In practice however, and the GPS suffers from a number of problems.

The first is sound levels, or lack of them. On a busy road or motorway it was virtually impossible to hear "Thomas" the English gent who sounds like Alec Guinness give his commands of where and when to turn. Had we turned on the radio and our quest to hear anything would have shrivelled like a grape in the sun.

While on bigger units this isn't really a problem, and here is our second complaint, with such a small screen it's hard to get a quick visual reference without taking your eyes off the road for too long.

Furthermore with no stylus included - it's too small for that - you either have to find a pen in the car to select your information or not have thick fat man fingers. Attempting to use it with our hands (and no they aren't that fat, just well-built) we ended up selecting things that we just didn't want, especially when it came to addresses.

The viewing issue isn't helped either by the rather long windshield mount. Apart from the fact that the C210 isn't very easy to clip on and off of said mount, the thing is so long that in our tests we found that it made the C210 bounce up and down at the end of it. Not by much mind you, but enough to mean that it didn't stay still.

Once again, not a major problem with bigger units, including ones by Mio, but here when screen space and clarity are already at a premium it doesn't help.

And so we come to our final problem, the menu system. What annoyed us the most is that simple things like changing the volume are buried deep within the menu system making them difficult to find.

It's not all bad news however and in tests the software and the GPS tracking is as good as GPS units on the market.

We especially liked the emphasis on speed, with the Mio coming with 1 year's subscription to all the speed cameras in the UK, and audible and visual notices telling you the current speed limit for the area you are driving in. You can even set it so you get a warning when you break that speed limit by a certain percentage.


With an option to power the C210 via four AA batteries, Mio has created a small and portable GPS solution, however for us, its size isn't its greatest feature as Mio had hoped, but its greatest downfall.

Mio has packed a lot into the diminutive C210 including TMC traffic alerts and plenty of Points of Interest, however for us the small screen makes this unit hard to understand.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 26 August 2006.