Mio H610: The Sexiest GPS Alive

We’ve unpacked the Mio H610 on Sept 9th and it is now time to publish our full review. In a nutshell, the Mio H610 is not only an excellent GPS device it is also an object of desire for most people who came in contact with it. Beyond the GPS functionality the H610 is also a 3D gaming-capable Portable Media Player (PMP). Mio is raising the bar: bad news for the competition, good news for GPS users. This reviewexplains why we think it’s so uber-cool.

The Mio H610 attracts the attention. It’s cute, smart and charges with a standard mini-USB connector (my personal favorite). The faceplate is customizable, a must-have for “cool” personal devices.


Mio H610 MusicAfter playing with it for two weeks, “fast” is how I define the Mio H610. It’s much more reactive than other GPS units like the Pharos 525 (which I really liked back then).

Fast graphics
Navigation being a real-time application, it’s normal that users expect the device to react quickly. They will love the H610: it has a fast scrolling, zooming and panning.

Betterdestination selection
Mio did a really good job with their new destination selection interface. There is a list of “recently selected cities”, that is so useful! Most GPS system don’t have it and it’s *very frustrating* to enter the same city name each time. The software is also quicker to propose street names than other navigators.

Smooth graphics
The Mio is the first GPS (that I know of) that uses “anti-aliasing”, a technique that smoothes the image.

3D gaming capable
Not only the Mio H610 has integrated games, but one of them is a 3D game. It’s a futuristic racing game like “Wipe Out” called Flux. Gaming performance is better than any other GPS that I know of, but it’s still a long shot from a PSP.

Road Test
Mio H610 MusicSo how is it to use the Mio H610 on the road? Installation is easy – it uses the same mounting system than the Mio C310/C710. Once turned on, the time to first GPS fix (cold start) is 2 or 3 minutes, which is longer than I expected.

As I said before, entering a destination is very quick, especially if you already have the city in the “recent cites” list. The software is pretty good at guessing which name you’re trying to enter and will often propose a list of streets after a few letters have been entered.

The maps are very good looking: sharp & crisp. Although the display has a standard 240×320 resolution many people thought that it was 640×480, thanks to the use of anti-aliasing. The color scheme is also very nice, in my opinion (there’s a night-time color scheme too).

While cruising on the road some users may fin the map difficult to read because of the screen size (2.7”). Fortunately, I have a 20/20 vision but I would still want to have the option of using larger fonts. This is a major downside if you don’t have a good vision and want to drive with it.

If you miss a turn, the GPS will recompute a new road. It stalls for a couple of seconds while doing this – nothing out of the ordinary.

There’s a huge database of points of interest (POI) in the H610 including banks, ATMs, gas stations… I used this only once: I was looking for an ATM around Fillmore St and Washington St in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the POI ATM was 1 block off the real one. I was just unlucky on that one (the majority of POIs are perfectly positioned), but I was on foot! I had to walk one more block. Argh.

Mio H610 MusicWith a fast CPU (400Mhz), the Mio H610 is certainly capable of playing music and video clips. However, it’s not the media capabilities that are interesting – a lot of devices can do it. It’s the combo size/power/design that makes it different and useful. It is small enough to be a personal device and fast enough to handle multimedia tasks.

We tested the device with MP3 and video files and both were working very well. For the video, I recommend avoiding anything beyond 300Kbps to keep the frame rate stable.

Provided that you have enough storage for your needs, the Mio H610 will be a good PMP (there are 4GB SD cards for $60, after rebate).

Almost perfect
The Mio H610 is extremely cool, but it is not yet perfect. The software* is new and needs a few consistency improvements. I think that there are too many icons on the main display, making it hard to click while driving. The number of icons also leads to smaller icons making each (again) are hard to click on.

The display is very reflective and can be hard to read in bright conditions, especially when something bright is reflected. I recommend rotating the display slightly (towards the passenger’s seat) to avoid having the reflection of your hands in the screen.

* Note that our unit does not have the final software.

The Mio H610 is the coolest GPS that we’ve played with so far. If you have a good vision it will be a great companion in the car and elsewhere. If not, you can still use it in “pedestrian mode”. Its navigational skills would almost make us forget that it is also a good flash-based Portable Media Player. What is certain is that the Mio H610 is a desirable gadget: virtually every person who touched it said: “I want one!”.

Release date: October 2006
Estimated price: $500
Mio Website

  • SiRFstar III GPS chipset
  • 64MB RAM
  • 2.7” color display
  • SD/MMC memory slot
  • 1300 mAh Li-ion
  • 3.88oz (110g)
  • 2.32” x 3.35” x 0.74”

In the box

  • Remote control earphones
  • In-car charger
  • AC charger
  • Device holder
  • Car mount
  • USB cable
  • Application CD + mapson a DVD
  • Wriststrap with stylus
  • Neck Strap

Update 5/29: you might be interested by the Mio C220. It delivers the same experience for a much cheaper price.

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