We haven’t seen much from Mio recently. In fact, the last device we looked at was the decidedly mid-range Navman M400. Now the company is back with a new selection of devices, which look like more nails in the coffin of the formerly independent Navman brand. This week, we’re reviewing the keenly priced Spirit 685, which offers a sizeable 5in screen, yet is available for a touch over £100.
The 685 uses a development of the Spirit interface created in tandem with Navman. This has been moved still further from the Glide Touch of the Navman S100, which we found so frustrating. The 5in display does not support multitouch, and the interface now entirely uses button clicks to scroll lists, rather than swiping gestures. This may not be quite so fashionable, but it’s more dependably functional, which is what you want from a sat-nav most of the time. There’s also a physical button in the top left corner of the device, which will return you to the main menu no matter where you are within the interface.
Our favourite feature of the original Spirit system still remains, however. The keyword search spans both the addresses and points of interest (POIs). So both types of destination are returned in a single list. You also only need to know which city your destination is near, as the search is across an entire national database. Results are then listed by distance to the centre of the chosen city, or your current location if you’ve selected that option. You can still focus on addresses or POIs separately if you want, with individual searches available on both, plus the traditional options of city-street-number or drilling down through categories respectively. The postcode search doesn’t stretch to the full set of digits, though.
When you’ve found your destination, the 685 calculates journeys using IQ Routes technology. No, we haven’t accidentally forgotten which brand of device we’re reviewing here – Mio licensed IQ Routes from TomTom last year. So the 685 will take into account the time of day and day of week, and then uses the appropriate historic traffic speed information to figure out journey times, so you miss any regular jams.