The personal navigation device, or PND, was originally conceived as a convenient little gadget you could slip in a bag or even a jacket pocket, making it easy to move from car to car. But Mio's new Navman Spirit V735 TV appears to have forgotten this important characteristic. Sporting a 7in widescreen, it's one of the largest car navigation devices we've seen, even if it's still relatively slim.
The reason for the ballooning in proportions is because the V735 has a special party trick. Lurking inside is a digital TV tuner, enabling you to watch Freeview programmes in the car. Naturally, this would be a crazy thing to do when driving, and Mio puts up a warning message every time you call up the TV function to ensure you realise this. When stationary, you can just press okay and start watching. But there's also a checkbox, and if you don't tick this the screen will go blank above 5mph.
We still think some people will be stupid enough to ignore these messages and watch whilst driving. But then some people are also stupid enough to send texts when driving, operate a car when drunk, or tailgate on motorways in the pouring rain. So you really can't prevent some people exhibiting criminal levels of poor judgement. Whilst the potential is there for dangerous distraction, Mio has made a reasonable effort to guard against it.
Since the V735 is a lot larger and heavier than most sat-navs, it comes with a meatier screen attachment. This is a fully articulated arm with an industrial-strength suction cup on the end. It should be possible to find a comfortable setup in most vehicles, even trucks, caravans or minivans.
There's a small aerial built in, but we found this essentially useless. Fortunately, an external aerial is supplied as well, which can be attached to a window using suckers. This is much more effective, and in our suburban London test location the Mio picked up the usual array of Freeview channels, displaying these with only infrequent artefacts. However, the usual caveats about digital TV reception apply. Aerial placement has a major effect on reception, and this could make some TV journeys frustrating as the signal strength varies with vehicle position.