Review of Mio’s DigiWalker 269 GPS MP3 Player

The Mio DigiWalker 269 is a portable GPS unit that allows you to navigate turn-by-turn with ease in car, or on foot. Not only does it navigate, it also plays MP3 audio files with its built-in player. We recently acquired the unit for review and in true MobileMag style we put it to the test!

The Mio 269 comes with the following goodies:

- Earphones
- USB cable
- Car charger
- AC adaptor
- Carrying case
- Car mount/car holder

The earphones are your standard ear buds that you get with any MP3 player these days. The car mount works great, it has a really strong suction cup that can hold the device upside down without having to worry about it letting go. The carrying case is quite nice, synthetic leather with a bit of mesh.

Design

The housing is about the size of a small PVP with a large 3.5” LCD screen on the front, an external speaker, and several buttons along the side of the screen. On the top of the device we have the SD/MMC slot. Located on the sides we have a power button, volume toggle switch, stylus holder, reset button, and headphone jack. On the bottom are the 5V 1A power input and the USB port.

The buttons on the front consist of:

- Home button that will set the device up and allow you to navigate home with a simple push of a button.
- Flag button that enters you into a menu that allows for various navigation tools.
- Zoom in and out buttons to magnify the map
- Back button that exits menus
- 4 way directional button that scrolls the map or menus
- Sound button that mutes and un-mutes the sound

Interface

The Mio 269 runs Win CE .NET 4.2 Core. A neat little embedded operating system that leaves room for tons of customization by the manufacture. All of the interface navigation can be performed via touch screen with a stylus or your finger. The touch screen works pretty good, when using my finger I didn’t have many problems selecting buttons; you really don’t need the stylus to perform many tasks.

Upon startup of the device you are confronted with four main menu choices; Navigator, Music, Tool and Setting.

In the Tool option is a contacts section that allows you to store contract info such as addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, etc. It’s semi handy if you don’t already have that info stored on your mobile phone. Also, you don’t need to enter it into the device via the stylus; you can do it through the windows based program called Mio Transfer that allows you to import your Outlook contacts.

In the settings menu you are presented with options to change settings that effect overall device management such as the backlight, auto off, volume, stylus alignment, time, language, and battery, nothing to exciting in here.

Next we have the navigator and the music section, we will talk more about these functions later in the review.


Navigation

The main purpose of the Mio Digiwalker 269 is to navigate its user across North America with ease. It has a built-in GPS function with moving color map that allows for turn-by-turn voice prompted navigation.

When you first hop into the navigation program called “Mio Map” by Navteq, it prompts you with a disclaimer page saying that you should be responsible while driving, and all that your car will blow up if you don’t pay attention to the road stuff.

Once in the program you are presented with a map, if you are outside and have a clear view of satellites it starts to acquire the signals and configures itself to your current location. After its all synchronized with the satellites you are ready to navigate!

There are 2 different navigation modes; walking and driving. The driving mode works perfectly, as it should. To navigate to an area of your choice you can either locate it on the map, click the screen and hit navigate or you can choose the location through the menu by using the address, favorites, or trip planner. Address lets you plug in a location by region, city, street, and number. My favorite is the sub menu, this lets you pick items that you have previously programmed in for easy access. In the ‘trip planner’ sub menu you can set a bunch of different waypoints to navigate to without having to keep programming them after each destination; perfect for navigating on a road trip. Point of interest lets you pick from over 50 different location categories such as schools, rest areas and train stops. Once you pick a category those points will show up on the map and you can locate the nearest one and navigate to it. Or you can select the point by typing the name into the screen under the ‘item’ heading using the QWERTY touch keyboard.

Using the main navigation screen is very intuitive. You can setup the device in a bunch of different modes that make your navigation experience easier. First off we have the different graphical modes;

- 3D night interpolates the terrain data to give you a pretty good idea of road elevation and direction of travel using a 3rd person driving view.
- 2D gives you the same info as 3D night except the terrain is black so you can see the roads easier.
- 2D night has the bird’s eye top down view of navigation.
- 3D has the same display as 2D night except the terrain is black so you can see roads easier.

When you pick your destination and instruct the device to navigate it calculates the trip and says “Drive carefully!” (which you can turn off via the settings menu). The Mio 296 gps has several ways that it interprets the road data to give you your route to destination. First of all you can specify either the shortest route or the quickest route in the settings menu. You can also set it to avoid roads if you know there is traffic there or if it is a toll road.

Now that you are all setup and driving, you really can get a feel for how well the device works. When you approach a turn it gives you warning in distances of 3 kilometers, 500 meters, 20 meters, and about 2 meters. It does this by voice prompts and visual turn queue signs pointing in the direction of the turn. You can program this in either metric or imperial for you people still stuck in the stone age.

If you miss a turn the Mio automatically recalculates your route by giving you the next best turn to get you back on track. You can also allow it to prompt you to take u-turns if you really mess up.

There are also other handy features such as a text display of your driving directions, current location, speed of your car, and big turn visual helpers. There are many different features to help you navigate.

The only drawback of the device that I noticed was the inaccuracy of the maps on some country roads, I found myself missing a few turns when it instructed me to turn after the road. I doubt this has anything to do with the GPS accuracy but the accuracy of the maps themselves. In the city the device was very strong and accurate. Keep in mind that this only happened a few times and wasn’t that big of a deal.

Music

The Mio DigiWalker 269 also has a built in MP3 player with 500MB to fit your MP3 music on. The player is accessible from the main menu and looks like any interface that you would expect to see on a portable video player except all the buttons are activated via touch screen. You can set up play lists through the device, adjust the equalizer, and select the play style (random, repeat, straight through).

This is all fine and dandy except for the lack of MP3 playback support during navigation. I was kind of let down by this since being a portable navigator with a music player built in is one of the major selling points. Well, in actual fact, it is a personal navigator OR an MP3 player. Not both at the same time. With that said, I would imagine it would need more processing power if it was to do both tasks at the same time. I guess their selling point is the fact that you get both in one, not both at the same time; I’d still buy it over the device with no music player.

In order to load your MP3’s you need to use Mio’s Transfer software that allows you to copy music to the device, update maps, etc., I was a tad disappointed to find out that the device didn’t function as a USB hard drive to quickly copy tracks.

Conclusion

Overall I am quite impressed with the Mio DigiWalker 269. It never failed to get me from point A to point B without many hitches. The navigation software was intuitive and easy to use. All in all it is the perfect add on to anyone’s gadget arsenal. I would have liked it if the music could play at the same time as you are navigating, but it will have to do for now. I would have also liked it if I could program in a coordinate (latitude/longitude) to navigate to.

The battery power, which lasts around 4.5 hours according to Mio, was sufficient enough for me. I used the car charger and didn’t walk for 4.5 hours straight, so I didn’t notice a huge depletion in power in a short time.

All in all the Mio DigiWalker 269 is quite an impressive little navigation and audio unit.

Pros

- Route recalculation works great
- Turn by turn prompting
- 3D navigation
- Thousands of points of interests
- Tons of options

Cons

- Back road maps sometimes not that accurate
- Can’t navigate and play MP3’s at the same time
- Can’t program in coordinates via latitude and longitude
- Doesn’t perform as a USB hard drive

Specifications

CPU: Intel Xscale 300 MHz
Display: 3.5” Color Transflective LCD, LED Backlight
Resolution: 320×240, 65K colors, QVGA resolution, Landscape

Memory
ROM: 32MB Flash ROM. 64MB SDRAM
RAM: 64MB SDRAM

GPS Module: Built-in GPS module, SiRFStarIII chip with XTrack
Antenna: 18 x 18 mm patch antenna with extended antenna jack; Embedded type

Touchscreen: Resistive type Touchscreen
Input Method: Stylus pen / On-Screen Keyboard
Speaker: Built–in loudspeaker ´ 1
Headphone: 3.5mm jack ´ 1
SD / MMC: For SD and MMC cards,capacity up to 1 GB
InfraRed: InfraRed for remote control
USB: USB 1.1 ( Client ) for fast data transmission

Dimension: 138 mm (Length) ´ 72~78 mm (Width) ´ 26mm (Height)
Weight: 232 g

Additional Photos


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