The Mio H610 is equipped with a 20-channel SiRFstarIII GPS receiver and comes preloaded with TeleAtlas maps of the North America, so it's ready to navigate right out of the box. As with most navigation systems today, you can enter your destination by address, a point on the map, a point of interest (POI), or from your Favorites list. You can instruct the H610 to calculate directions by the fastest, the shortest, or the most economical route as well as tell it to avoid highways, toll roads, and so forth. The unit also features a comprehensive POI database with all the major attractions and more specific categories. Though a small detail, we really like the organization of the POI database because the Mio H610 presents them in a neat list with relevant breakdowns of major categories (i.e., restaurants by cuisine type).
Maps are available in 2D and 3D view with day and night colors. You can zoom in and out of maps, route to points or destinations along the way, and use the Add Cam tool to mark where safety cameras are located. However, as we mentioned earlier, these functions aren't always evident as they're buried under a submenu in the corner of the screen. Also, on display is the name of the street you're on, the next turn, the remaining distance, the estimated time of arrival, and so forth. Of course, you get text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, though it doesn't support text-to-speech functionality to speak the actual street names. There are options to get a Fly Over preview of the prescribed route or view a detailed itinerary. The H610 also supports automatic route recalculation if you get off course.
In addition, there is a Travel Kit menu option that brings up a compass and a complimentary three-year subscription to the WorldMate travel application, which includes useful tools like a currency converter, world clocks, weather updates, and more. There's also a section for your contacts, but entering information is confusing and cumbersome: It's not clear how to input text into a field. Only through trial and error did we find out that clicking on the entry twice brought up an onscreen keyboard, and a cramped one at that. You can, however, get directions from the Contacts page, which is handy.
For entertainment, Mio includes a built-in music and video player and an image viewer. The H610 supports MP3, MPEG4, JPG, and BMP file formats, and includes an equalizer, and repeat and shuffle functions. We suggest you invest in an SD card to store all these files. Finally, the company throws in four games for your pleasure: Fireball, Gem, Plumbin, and Flux.
We tested the Mio H610 in San Francisco, and it took about three minutes for the unit to get a satellite fix from a cold start. The H610 did a good job of pinpointing our location as we drove around the city. Route calculations were quick, and the system provided accurate directions to our destination. It also got us back on track after we took a wrong turn.
We asked CNET's digital audio editor Jasmine France to give the H610's music player a listen, and she had some positive feedback. Sound quality was good, though a bit weak on bass, and she was impressed with the built-in equalizer, which enhanced the sound. Plugging in a better pair of earbuds also helped the music experience. We did notice, however, that when listening to tunes and viewing a photo slide show, the music started to hiccup. Also, the transfer process for multimedia files took a really long time. The Mio H610's lithium-ion battery is rated for up to five hours on a single charge.