Last year, I found the Mio DigiWalker C220 on Black Friday for only $100. I really love it, so I was certainly
game to review its upgraded replacement, the C230. This is more or less Mio’s lowest-end GPS unit.
What’s in the box:
- Drivers and user manual CD-ROM
- Getting started guide
- DC car power adapter
- Suction-cup windshield mount
- Adhesive mat for dashboard mounting
- C230 GPS unit
The GPS itself is fairly compact. It snaps in and out of the mounting bracket very easily (it’s a much better design
than the C220, for sure).
The rear of the device has a power switch and a small hole to attach to the windshield mount. The power switch is handy
if you plan on leaving the GPS unused for an extended period of time – it shuts it down completely to save battery.
The downside is that you’ll have to recalibrate the touchscreen when you boot it back up.
The top of the unit just has a power button. The left side (when looking at the screen) has a small rubber flap that
covers a connector for an external antenna. I thus far have found no need for this, though – its reception seems just
fine with its own antenna.
The bottom houses the mini-USB connector for charging and data transfer, as well as an auxiliary SD slot for adding
storage as needed. The C230 has 1GB internal storage, however, which is enough to hold a number of maps.
Overall, the hardware is really very nice. The touch screen is quite responsive and doesn’t smudge too easily. The unit
feels sturdy. The battery lasts around four hours, and takes awhile to charge if it’s powered up and running while
charging. However, I imagine the battery life is similar for any GPS – having to maintain a constant satellite connection
uses a lot of power, no matter what you do. I really like that it charges via USB (most brands of GPSes I’ve seen do), since
it means that it can be hooked up to a computer without any special cables.
The C230 comes with a range of POIs (points-of-interest) for each US state map. Unfortunately, the C230′s POI
database is extremely limited. I was fortunate enough to find an updated set of maps with far more POIs. You’ll have
to search around for them, but it’s technically legitimate, as the maps are digitally signed to work with the C230′s
version of the MioMap GPS software.
That being said, the interface for looking up POIs and addresses is very intuitive. I really like that it grays out letters
when typing in street names, to guide you in spelling the street correctly.
The MioMap software has a main screen that allows setting configuration options, favorite locations, and the two views –
Cockpit and Map. The Map view is required to add new addresses to the custom POI database (more on that in a minute), but
the Cockpit view is more useful when actually using the GPS to follow directions.
The cockpit view, seen below, provides a small console to the left of the screen. This shows the distance to the next
instruction (turn, exit, etc.), are the three boxes can be configured to display different data. I’ve configured mine
to display my speed, the time to my destination, and the distance to my destination.
In addition, the Cockpit and Map views both have three viewpoints – the standard map that turns as you turn, an
always-North view that only turns the little green arrow (your car) along the map, and a flyover view that shows the entire
calculated route. Routes can be configured with different options – economical, fastest and shortest distance.
One of the C230′s big upgrades over the C220 is its text-to-speech functionality. When using the woman’s US English voice,
the GPS can speak street names. Some people prefer this, but I find it to be grating. I don’t really like the robotic sound
of the woman’s voice as she attempts to pronounce street names, so I ended up changing the voice back to the US English
male voice that was used on my C220. However, if you prefer or need text-to-speech, the C230 will accomodate this need
I’ve used other GPSes from Sanyo and Garmin. Thus far, I personally much prefer Mio’s MioMap software to the competitors.
It’s very intuitive. It has nice features like auto night mode, which switches the map to a black background (much easier
on the eyes in the dark!). It doesn’t require an annual subscription like Garmin, although you’ll have to find and
download the maps yourself to update it. Personally, I prefer this to paying every year for map updates.
Overall, I love my C230. It’s a fairly small upgrade from my C220. The software is identical on both, and I already
loved my C220 before I started using the C230. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, basic GPS (who needs a GPS to play
videos and MP3s, anyhow?) unit that’s easy to use, I can definitely recommend the C230. It’s exceeded all my exepectations
for a low-end unit.