There’s a point in the lifecycle of tech products where the innovative vanguard gives way to the packagers. This is not a bad thing; it means components that were once hard to come by -- and in some cases custom-built -- have become commoditized, readily available and cheap.
Commoditization has finally reached GPS devices. A manufacturer once had to build the underlying computer hardware, the maps, the software, and everything else to spec. Now it's apparently possible to get all the piece parts on the OEM market and simply integrate a product into existence. One example is the Mio C310 Portable Car Navigation System.
The C310 uses Windows CE as its operating system, GPS software from Destinator Technologies, and maps from Tele Atlas. It’s all perfectly competent, and by some measures maybe a little better than that. Yet the end result is pretty generic: product, rather than innovation.
Nothing wrong with product. And at a nickel less than $650 for a pretty full-featured pocket GPS unit, you may be willing to sacrifice a few more "Wows" for a few more bucks in your wallet.
The Mio C310 is a touch-screen GPS unit about 4 ¼ inches wide by 3 inches high and ¾ of an inch deep. The screen itself is a little less than 3 inches high by 2 ¼ inches wide. The whole thing, including a non-replaceable LiIon battery, weighs around 6 ounces -- very much pocket sized. There are four buttons along the right edge of the unit: power, menu, and volume up and down. There’s a headphone jack and USB/power jack on the bottom edge and an SD/MMC slot on the top. A dashboard mount and bracket completes the package.