“ Brand: Mio / Maps: UK & ROI „
My wife bought me a Navman 378 for my birthday and I was impressed with it. It was really handy for my occasional trips to different towns and cities, and it got me there without any problem. However...it now requires me to 'update' my existing maps, and wants a fee that would almost buy a new, if cheaper, sat nav. So, the Navman 378 now sits in a drawer at home whilst I use the Google Maps Navigator application on my smartphone, which speaks a turn by turn route with great accuracy, for FREE (apart from my £10 a month PAYG mobile charge. I use GiffGaff and get unlimited data and texts, and 250 minutes talk time for my £10). The Navman WAS good but this is rip-off Britain, so don't bother buying one.
I've not had a satnav before I bought this Mio Navman 378 about a month or two ago. I'd been happily using my PC to look up any long distance journeys I made on Multimap.co.uk and printing off a map. It wasn't a fool-proof way of getting to unfamiliar places, but it worked well enough. Then the website I had come to rely on changed hands, and the new owners made it harder and slower to use. I could use AA route planner, but I tended to find I wound up printing off 3 or 4 pages per journey with that website, which seems a bit wasteful, and I fell into trouble once or twice when I took a wrong turn and did not have a map to help get me back on track. With all that in mind, I decided that perhaps it was time to move with modern times and get myself a Satnav.
I did a little bit of research before choosing this specific model. I looked at a few reviews on Dooyoo and the Argos website to help me make my decision. Price wasn't a huge issue, but I couldn't see anything to justify the extra £100 or more that they charge for some of the 'higher end' models. This model was priced at £69.99 from Argos (and is still that price at the time of writing this review). There were a couple of cheaper models, and a lot that were more expensive, but I went with this one based on a combination of price, reviewer ratings and features.
Getting this satnav set up was a bit confusing at first. I plugged it into my PC to charge via a USB lead (included) and could see no sign that it was actually charging. In the end, after A LOT of fiddling, I discovered that I needed to plug it while the satnav was turned on, and then flicked it over to the off setting. An image of orange bands jumping between two USB symbols then appeared on the screen to show me it was charging. I have no idea how long it took to charge initially as I wound up having to leave it and go to bed! I guess I'd have to recommend that you allow for overnight charging before first use.
When I went to put this into my car, I fell into another problem. The suction cup on the bottom of the satnav in-car stand had absolutely no suction whatsoever. I don't know if this is because of the texture of my dashboard perhaps, but I really do think it should have at least had a tiny bit of grip. It just wouldn't stick at all though, no matter how many ways and times I tried. I had to put double-sided sticky tape on it in the end, and then go over the top of the stand with sellotape after it fell off mid-journey a couple of times. On the plus side, the console does slot onto the stand easily and stay put. It's just the stand itself which won't keep still! So far, it's not sounding good is it? Read on though, it does get better...
Once I got over the difficulties of mounting and charging my satnav, I discovered why so many reviewers had rated it highly and recommended it to others. The ease of operation was a huge surprise to me as a satnav novice. All I had to do was switch it on, wait about thirty seconds for it to load, and then choose from one of six easy-to-use options. I could find a place using a postcode, keyword or just by selecting a nearby facility from a list (eg food, petrol etc). Using the postcode search facility, the easiest one to use in my opinion, I put in a UK or Ireland postcode and press enter. Then I get prompted to enter in a street name, and it blanks out the keys not needed which I think is quite clever as it can help to remind you if you've forgotten a street name and you've only got say five letters a street in that postcode could possibly start with. After a few letters, it will automatically bring up a list of matching streets and you tap the one you want. Then either pick a door number, or select 'centre of street' and then tap either 'save' (to use the next day perhaps) or 'go'.
The on screen directions are easy to follow, and there are verbal instructions to compliment these so you can find your way with a combination of glances at the console, and the lady letting you know where you're going. You can go into the audio settings to fiddle around if you like but I was happy with the factory settings. I found the voice pleasant and helpful and the volume just right. I really like how I get counted down to my turns, like I get told 'in 2 miles, turn left' then it goes quiet until I get close to my turn. Then it will remind me 'in 300 feet, turn left' and then 'turn left... turn left...' as I approach my turn. It's really hard to go wrong! If you don't want to be verbally reminded, you can choose to mute this and rely on glancing at the screen as you drive. I don't think that's as safe as this method is though.
The maps on the console screen are bright and easy to follow. They include the names of the nearby neighbouring streets as you progress through your journey, which can be helpful if you're heading towards a place that has entrances on different streets (eg if you're going to a hospital and there are a few different entrances to it). It also automatically reprograms itself if you take a wrong turn. It'll tell you to perform a u-turn as soon as it's safe to do so, or it will show another way you can get to the place you're going by continuing on the path you changed to.
All of the journeys I've taken so far with this satnav have been successful. Twice I've been taken along rather small country roads, which I would have preferred not to have done, but in defence of the satnav - I could have chosen different settings to avoid this. I've always wound up at the correct final destination, and when I've gone wrong, this has got me back on track within a matter of seconds. I've also found I get a good amount of warning when the battery is about to die (lasts about four hours from fully charged), so I can fumble around and get the cigarette charger plugged into it and keep on going. Really, you should get a passenger to do this or pull over to do it. The cigarette charger lead is a little on the long side and can get in the way of the gear stick a bit I find, but I could always get a plastic tie to prevent this from happening so it's not a big issue. Better to be too long than too short.
For the price, I definitely recommend this as a nice easy a-to-b satnav. It's got it's faults for sure, namely the poor stand and the charge confusion, but over all I think it deserves a four star rating. It gets me where I need to go quite quickly and easily without annoying me along the way.