I finally got a Mio c310x. Surely you’ve already heard about how hackable this GPS unit is and all the super slick things you can do with it. And hacking it was really easy.
I’ve had a hand-help GPS unit for a while now. I have a Garmin eTrex Venture. It’s okay and I sure used it a lot for Geocaching, but I’ve been really dying for a auto-based GPS unit. I had to travel to Dallas with a few people from work and a friend brought his Mio c310x he got on Black Friday 2006 for ~$150. I was so impressed with it. My sister-in-law had a Magellen c320 (I think) and I played with that a little when she first got it, but I liked the Mio and its internal, rechargeable battery.
Do you remember when GPS units were something only the very wealthy could afford? A built-in unit was about $2,000 and a portable unit was about $800. Times have changed quite a bit. Clark recently bought a portable unit for less than $300 and it’s possible to find them for under $200. The more expensive units will tend to have the hard drive built-in to the unit, while the less expensive ones have an SD chip. And there are good and bad factors to both. But they are so simple to use and they have a memory of all of your addresses. These are hot gifts this holiday, so think about one for your loved one. Or wait even longer and they are sure to go down even more.
My wife finally gave me the go ahead to get it after I sold some old Directv receivers, so I went to Fry’s with the kids and picked one up. Of course they tried to sell me the 3-year extended warranty. When I stopped laughing I told them I wasn’t interested. I paid for it and got the kids in their seats and opened it up. It had a 75% charge out of the box and I used it to navigate me home.
I breifly took a look at the manual, but I’m a touchy-feely sort of guy so I’ve been playing with it six ways to Sunday. It isn’t perfect and now that I’ve played with it for some time, I am very happy with it. I don’t know if any other > $200 GPS units come close but I am very happy with it.
Out of the box, you can play MP3’s with it. Hoo-hum. The software that came with it reminds me of the old Sony software they had for mini-disks; not very useful. But there are hacks out there you can really have a lot of fun with.
The best way to move files back and forth is with Microsoft’s ActiveSync which is for PDA’s running Windows CE. This works flawlessly. Couple this with an external card reader, (the Mio is usb 1.1), and you can be rocking and rolling in no time.
One of the negatives you’ll hear about the Mio is that the maps are just over two years old. Still, I haven’t had any problems yet getting around Atlanta and North Georgia. The maps have been good without any real big noticeable problems.
I put the included suction-cup mount in our van and use the Mio on my lap or the passenger seat when I am in the other car. It picks up the GPS signals really good. I can even get a lock inside the house. I don’t quite understand it, but I like it. It makes it easy for planning routes beforehand.
An SD card is key for having any fun with this unit. You can put the unlocking script on the SD card and you can backup and export your track logs. I am able to import my track logs into Google Earth. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. I’ve always liked so see where I went overlayed on the Google! maps.
Once you hack your Mio c310x you can do any of the following:
- Play movies
- Add voices
- Edit and plan POI’s on your PC
- Play games
- Install TomTom or other nav software
- The general opinion is that MioMap is better than TomTom
- Use ActiveSync
- Access the Windows CE environment
- Change skins
It is just a fun thing to tinker around with. My sister-in-law just ordered one from Frys.com for $189 plus tax (free shipping). I’ll help her get it all set up.
One of the coolest things that I like is that iG0 released a beta application that will allow you to edit/import/export/sync via ActiveSync POI’s (points-of-interest). My sister-in-law and I are both Realtors so this will be very handy when showing properties.
Here’s a list of the links I have used to make it this far:
- Mio AIO forums at GPSpassion.com in English.
- ilovemymio forums
- Mio Tips and Tricks
- Mini FAQ for c310x also at GPSpassion.com
- Adding POI’s also at GPSpassion.com
- POI Factory
I forgot one very important link: