Mio DigiWalker 136
- Compact size, backlit buttons, customisation options
- Poor satellite acquisition, hard to enter destinations, confusing audio prompts
The compact size of this unit doesn't compensate for its poor GPS performance. Not recommended.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
Released in February this year, the Mio 136 (a member of the Mio DigiWalker range) is a pocket sized GPS ideal for either in car or outdoor use. Unlike larger and bulkier models, such as the GARMIN StreetPilot c320, the Mio 136 has the form factor of a PDA and can be used as both a fully-featured GPS navigator and a music player.
Unfortunately, this extra capability did not compensate for the poor performance of the GPS itself. By far the biggest issue we had with the Mio 136 was its satellite acquisition. On all our test drives, the unit took 2 to 3 minutes to acquire a location and would inexplicably lose the signal at various points on the journey. We recommend purchasing the antenna for this device, which can be added to the receiver to improve the signal reception.
The Mio 136 generates a voice prompt to notify drivers before every upcoming turn or change of direction. At times, we found the timing of these audio prompts very confusing--they were either too late or too early, and as a result we missed several turns or took wrong ones. A minor flaw is that unit tells you which direction to turn before the distance is mentioned, meaning that we sometimes already passed turns we were supposed to take. Like other models, the Mio 136 can re-calculate routes if you take a wrong turn or decide to go a different way. Our tests found the device was slow to detect our current position and ascertain that we were on a different route or off track.
We did like the 3.5", 320 x 240 touchscreen LCD on the front of the unit, which worked well both in direct sunlight and at night. We also found all the controls on this device both intuitive and easy to use. You select a destination using either a stylus or the series of orange backlit buttons laid out just to the right of the screen.
Entering a destination on the Mio 136 is rather tedious. Upon powering up the unit, you are presented with three menu options: navigation, settings or music. When in the Navigation mode, pressing the Destination button once brings up the options menu, where you select the Address button to enter in your destination. You then have to spell the suburb or street name by typing letters as if typing out an SMS message on a phone. Doing this with a stylus was both time consuming and irritating.
To search, you first enter a suburb, then a street then a street number. Usefully, the search filters your results so that only streets for the suburb you select are shown, and then only valid street numbers for that street are displayed. However, we could not find a way to filter the suburbs by state, meaning initially every single suburb in Australia is displayed, and we could not search by postcode. We much prefer the searching method on the Mio 268 which is both faster and more intuitive.
You can also set destinations using the Points of Interest database, a saved favourite location or even access previously used routes by using the history function. Alternatively, you can tap a location on the map itself and select Navigate. You can select roads to avoid, such as toll roads and highways. Other route functions include viewing the route turn by turn, viewing driving directions and recording a route to play back later.
For the safety conscious, the Mio 136 can notify drivers when they are over the speed limit, but some of the speed limit data was out of date on the version we looked at. A helpful feature of the unit is the ability to warn drivers if speed cameras or red light cameras are coming up. It was only after using the Mio 136 for a weekend that we began to realise just how many speed cameras there are in NSW.
We had no problems with the map display of the Mio 136. The route is clearly displayed in blue and the screen is not cluttered with too much information. The map can be viewed in 2D or 3D modes and has different colour settings for night and day modes. One feature that sets the Mio 136 apart from its rivals is the high level of customisation options. The main settings menu also allows users to customise the brightness and contrast of the screen, align the stylus, check the power status and set the current date and time.
Pressing the Destination button three times brings up the Options menu, where General, Map, Alert and Route settings can all be configured. This includes things like setting the font size, customising audio and visual notifications and selecting the routing mechanism. Annoyingly, pressing the Back button takes you directly back to the map screen, meaning you have to press Destination three times to get back to the Settings menu. This is only a small gripe about an interface that, on the whole, we found easy to use.
The Music Player on this device is quite basic. Songs can be loaded onto the card and played through the speakers. There is a headphone jack on the unit but no headphones are supplied. The Mio 136 ships with a 256MB SD card with Australian map data pre-loaded, and an SD/MMC slot is provided on the side of the unit for the addition of larger sized cards. The Mio 136 uses an unswappable rechargeable lithium ion battery which we found worked for about 4 hours before needing a recharge (an in-car charger is supplied).
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