Back in April 2004, Mio’s Digiwalker 168 impressed me as the first PDA to feature a integrated GPS receiver. Considering two and half years have past the Mio Digiwalker P550 should be bowling me over with how far things have moved on but in Pocket PCs terms the changes are not as marked as I would have hoped.
There’s a faster CPU and more RAM but the screen resolution hasn’t changed at all. The main difference is the housing. There’s no longer any need for a large flip up aerial adding bulk. Overall, it’s a better built unit, with a solid feel and no squeaks or rattles. It’s quite heavy though at 170g. The front has a pleasing sheen to it, while the rear is rounded and feels good in the hand.
In the box you get a cradle which isn’t great to look at but is easy to fit. It’s easy to have the PDA standing in portrait mode or rotate it to landscape. Power is provided either by a wall charger or by an in-car charger that plugs into the USB port.
The device has the usual arrangement of four buttons surrounding a central joystick. One is an on/off button, but pressing any of the buttons wakes up the device. The bottom left is mapped to the contacts list, while the top right takes you back to the main menu screen. The top left button switches the screen between landscape and portrait mode and works quickly, which is good.
On the left hand side you’ll find an SD card slot along with a headphone socket. The right hand side is devoid of anything save for serial numbers and a tiny hole that is a microphone – not a reset switch as I at first thought. This is in fact on the underside along with a ‘proper’ on/off switch and a mini USB port.
Hook your PC up to this and you can sync via the supplied Active Sync 4.1. Having used a Palm device for a while, the integration between Outlook and PDA via Active Sync is quite refreshing - with your inbox emails appearing on your PDA moments after they’re received.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both included on the device and the interface makes it easy to have one on and not the other or both on or off. It was a simple process to get the PDA online and to beam pictures to it from a mobile phone. It’s a shame though that the screen isn’t higher resolution to make the most of those pictures. I found that colours looked quite strong on the PDA but the screen could be far better lit. Looking at an image straight on in landscape mode, I found that the bottom half is well lit but the opposite side is darker, which means that you have to tilt it to get the image you want. This indicates that the backlight is located only on one side.