Some readers are wondering if I've bought another GPS yet, and I finally did: the C310 from MIO, which was on sale last month at Staples (in Canada) for a jaw-dropping CDN$250 (about US$220 -- cheap!). It is exactly what I had been looking for, and is a joy to use.
The frustrations I have right now are: (1) not fully documented (like, what does the Lock soft button do?); and (2) no access to European maps from Canada, seemingly, even though Mio is European.
On the plus side, there are thriving forums for Mio users:
Best of all, the unit is hackable. It takes a bit of practice, but here are the steps to get the Mio 310-series to start with its Windows CE operating system, instead of GPS/MP3 mode
1. Cradle the unit so that two fingers are over the Menu and Volume+ buttons.
2. Push a paper clip into the Reset button, and hold until the screen initializes (with some text).
3. As soon as the text appears, push the two buttons. Notice that Window CE starts, complete with desktop, taskbar, and Explorer.
This is known as the soft-hack or partial-hack. Once in Windows, you can add utility programs and skins written by users like this: (1) copy the files from the Internet onto an SD memory card, (2) insert the card in the Mio, and then (3) use Windows CE to copy the files into the appropriate folders on the Mio's internal memory.
For a while, I had considered a display-less GPS unit that would communicate with my PalmPilot through Bluetooth. But the more I thought about it, the less sense it made to me. Here's why:
1. The display-less GPS units are about $150 -- cheaper than the Mio. That's good.
2. But they don't include the map CDs -- that increases the price. That's bad.
3. I increasingly dislike the concept of multi-function devices, so I didn't fancy the thought of my PalmPilot having to do double- or triple-duty: PDA and MP3 and GPS.
4. I was uneasy over how well the mapping software and the Bluetooth GPS would work with my PalmPilot -- I didn't want to spend several hundred dollars experimenting, especially when I have two other GPS devices with serial connectors (they work with notebook computers).
Heh, speaking of double-duty, a friend replaced his Palm LifeDrive with Compaq's newest iPaq, the one that sports built-in GPS. (I gotta say, that rx5915's got one ugly design.) But the friend already has his first headache: he updated the iPaq software, and now the GPS no longer works. Oops.