With phones taking more sat-nav territory by the day, some sat-navs have started fighting back. The Mio Spirit V575 TV adds a Freeview TV tuner and media-playing skills to its directional talents.
Mounting: a challenge
All that technology needs to work well, because the Mio isn’t pretty. The unit feels very big in the hand and as a result has too much presence on the dashboard when it sat-nav mode, unless you can squeeze it into a corner. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it also felt well made, but unfortunately it doesn’t. The supplied windscreen mount is poorly designed – adjustments are tricky and we found it easier to remove the entire mount and sat-nav rather than just detatching the unit itself.
Big onscreen buttons greet you once it’s booted up, giving quick access to a location search screen, a map, TV mode and saved locations. Once behind the wheel, following the maps that cover the whole of Europe is easy thanks to simple but colourful graphics and more of those large buttons for accessing features such as IQ Routes, which takes real-time information on congestion. There’s also a main menu button built into the frame but is infuriatingly unresponsive.
What's on TV?
So sat-nav performance is generally pretty good, but it’s quite disappointing as a TV. Unlike analogue TVs, most portable Freeview sets have terrible trouble picking up a strong signal with a built-in telescopic aerial, and the Mio is no different. That’s why they all come with a connection for an external aerial, and true to form the Mio is bundled with the typical cable type that can be stuck to a window in the hope of a better picture.
Of course, reception will vary depending on where you are, but in our roaming tests the picture was almost always poor. Sound from the incy wincy speakers is no better. It’ll also play audio and video files, but you’d be better using a decent phone, tablet or portable DVD player for that job and doing it properly.
The idea is great, and compared to most similarly sized portable digital TVs the Mio isn’t that bad, but if you’re expecting more than shaky performance on the telly side of things the Mio won’t live up to your expectations.