Mio Navman 575 £149.99
7th Jul 2010 | 09:55
Is there more to Mio than just a 'me too' sat-nav system?
Mio Navman 575: Overview
Simpler, smarter navigation. That's the promise of Mio's latest range of Spirit sat navs, represented here by the range-topping Mio Navman 575 (also known as the Mio Spirit 575).
It has a huge 11.9cm display, built-in IQ Routes and LearnMe – a Mio-derived technology that helps the satnav adapt to your driving style. Hang on, IQ Routes?
Yup, Mio is now using TomTom's IQ Routes technology to help give you the optimum route for your journey, the aim being to help cut your travel time using driving info gleaned from thousands of other sat-nav users.
You can find out more about how it works on TomTom's IQ Routes webpage. It maybe a bit 'me too' for Mio to include it here, but frankly anything that makes driving around the UK road network easier is a blessing – no matter where it comes from.
Straight out of the box, the Mio Spirit 575 impresses. It's dominated by a widescreen display, which at 11.9cm is almost 1cm bigger corner-to-corner than rival models from TomTom and Garmin.
It's clear and bright too, making it easy to read even in bright sunshine. Unfortunately that's clouded by its relatively low display resolution of 480 x 272 pixels – which is almost less than half the screen res offered by some rivals.
The display is surrounded by a glossy black plastic bezel, which gives the Mio Navman 575 a total width of 13.2cm, within which you'll discover an indicator light showing the battery charge status as well as a a button that kicks you back to the Main menu. The unit measures measuring just 14mm deep.
The silver plastic back of the Mio Navman 575 is almost feature-free apart from a grille at the bottom left which covers the built-in speaker and a slot for sliding in the supplied windscreen mount.
On the top edge of the Miro Navman 575 you'll find a 3-position slider switch (On/Off/Reset), while the bottom houses a microSD card expansion slot and a mini-USB port which serves double duty as both a power port and for synchronising the satnav to your Windows PC using the supplied MioMore Desktop 2 software.
Inside, the Mio Navman 575 is powered by a Samsung 2450 processor running at 400MHz, and a 20-channel SiRFstar III and Instant FixII GPS chipset.
Mio Navman 575: Features and performance
Out on the road, the Mio Navman 575 performs reasonably well. Once you've gone through the initial setup options, you usually greeted with a simple home screen giving you just five different options: Find, Map, My Places, Settings and Near Me.
They lead on to further sub-menus that help set your destination, add to or recall journey favourites and pulling up a good range of Points of Interest and so on, but are all logically laid out and clearly presented with big target buttons to help you easily select the right option.
Finding destinations is a little more hit and miss though. The Mio Navman 575 is limited to a 4-character postcode entry, so you can only type in SW10 before being presented with a list of 5 character postcodes (SW10 1, for example), which you then have to scroll though and select.
From there you then have to type in the street name using the on-screen keyboard, although the Mio Navman 575 is clever enough to predict what you're about to type next. It's quick-ish, but a far cry from the full postcode entry on rivals like TomTom's GO series.
On a more positive night, the Mio Spirit 575 is fairly equipped with its comes to its built-in Maps, with those for 23 European countries included in the price tag.
You also have the rather clever option of renting additional maps for 7, 14 or 30 days at a time – saving you the expensive of buying the full versions, which you might never again need.
Also included in the price is free Traffic Message Channel information, which give you updates on any jams on your route, plus LearnMe – a Mio-derived technology which gradually adapts to the way you drive, so if you prefer to go a different way to a destination from the one it picks, it'll eventually learn to offer you only that one instead.
Driving across a mix of country and city roads we found it hard to quibble with the Mio Navman 575's selected route, which got us to our destination smartly, quickly and efficiently.
However,we did have a few issues with the user experience and a rather limited selection of routing options.
Firstly a combination of stark-looking graphics and rather robotic voice instructions made us feel like we were using a satnav from 10 years ago – especially when the voice mispronounced street and town names.
Secondly, although its route selection is clever, the Mio Navman 575 gives you limited ability to tweak it – you can choose between Fastest, Easiest or Economical.
LearnMe presumably makes up for this lack of choice once it gets used to the way you drive, but we'd have liked some more options from the start, including the ability to set waypoints, via routes and alternative routes – a quick and easy alternative shortcut would be really useful too.
More useful are the Points of Interest options in Near Me, which actually point you to stuff you might need like Food, Petrol, Parking, Hotels & Motels, Cash and emergency facilities (under SOS), rather than overwhelming you with stuff you don't.
More esoteric choices can be found in the dedicated Points of Interest sub-menu.
Mio Navman 575: Verdict
There's a lot to like about the Mio Navman 575. It's one of the company's most accomplished performers yet and really does do what it says on the tin: which is to give you an easy-to-use sat-nav experience with enough brains and horsepower to get you where you need to go with the minimum fuss.
However, experienced users maybe frustrated by some of its limitations.
With its big 11.9cm screen and large icons, the Mio Navman 575 makes it easy for even the most sausage-fingered of us to find our way around its menu system and it's easy to read even on bright, sunny days so you needn't worry about missing a turn.
We also like its simplicity in other ways too – you won't find anything in the way of daft features like built-in cameras and music players – and its Point of Interest are definitely of the Need To Know variety. All to the good.
The 575 also proves pretty adept at getting you around. We had no real problems on our test route, and the clever inclusion of features like TomTom's iQ Routes and as well as the option to rent maps should make the driving experience a more pleasurable one.
Unfortunately the Mio Navman 575 isn't without its faults. The biggest of these is critical combination of robotic voice controls, stark map graphics and the relatively low resolution of its screen – despite its large size. The result is that the user experience isn't quite as rewarding as with some rivals.
The limited routing options are also frustrating. Being able to pick only between Fastest, Easiest or Economical choices is just annoying – we'd like a bit more granularity.
Secondly, there's no quick and easy way to pick an alternative route using a menu shortcut. You have to delve into the submenus or start again.
That voice again. Although it can pronounce street and town names, the Mio Navman 575 so garbles the language that you wish it hadn't bothered.
A good little satnav if you're on a tight budget, but higher priced rivals offer better value for money.