The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV is a car satellite navigation unit with a difference - a digital TV tuner lets you watch Freeview on the move
It's a reasonable expectation that all satnavs that make it to market will be capable of safely getting you to your destination, so manufacturers need to make their models stand out in other ways. Notable previous examples include intelligent route calculation, user-amendable maps, photo-based navigation, voice recognition and biometric security.
But Mio's Moov Spirit V505 TV is the first standalone satnav we've seen to include a digital TV tuner and an electronic programme guide (EPG).
The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV is one of two models in Mio's line-up that let you watch free-to-air digital TV channels; the £249 V735 TV is a full multimedia device, adding a large 7in screen, an FM transmitter and the ability to store and view videos and photos, as well as listen to your favourite MP3 tracks.
The V735 is available only with Western European maps, covering 23 countries, although additional maps can be purchased for both devices.
Our review model of the Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV, meanwhile, came with UK and Ireland maps and a 4.7in screen - the latter marginally larger than the 4.3in examples we usually see - and making all the difference when watching TV.
The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV satnav has a shiny, slightly chunky black plastic bezel with silver-painted plastic back. There are no hardware buttons save for a power/reset slider and a small button to access the main menu. There's also a remote-control sensor, for which the control is sold separately, and a slot for a microSD card.
The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV's 480x272-pixel LCD screen produces a good image and is pleasingly resistant to greasy fingerprints and light reflections, which could otherwise impair screen visibility. The compact windscreen mount is a simple slide-in affair, incorporating a ball joint to aid comfortable positioning.
A telescopic TV aerial extends from the top-right of the device, letting you adjust its angle for improved reception. A port sits below this for plugging in an external antenna, which is included in the box and comes complete with suckers for attaching it to a window.
Brightness and volume can be altered using the touchscreen - sadly, no headphone jack has been included - while the EPG helps you plan your square-eyed schedule up to a week in advance.
TV on the move
How well the TV works depends entirely on the reception in the area you're travelling through (and travelling at speed will inevitably and continually take you in and out of areas with good reception). The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV autotunes itself, although you can force it to repeat this process.
It goes almost without saying that watching TV as you cruise around the M25 isn't the best idea, and by default the screen will go blank in TV mode as you exceed 5mph. However, should the back-seat passengers want a little on-the-road entertainment, it is possible to override this setting.
Note that a mains charger isn't included for use outside the vehicle, and that TV mode is inaccessible when the device is plugged into a PC and powered by USB. The rechargeable battery also runs down fairly quickly - we plugged it into our PC to charge for more than an hour and it then lasted only 10 minutes before warning us that it needed a rejuice.
Other notable features include a 12-month subscription to the company's speed-camera database, text-to-speech for road names and free traffic alerts. You'll also find helpful Wcities travel guides, lane guidance with junction views and NavPix, the innovative photo-based navigation feature pioneered by Navman, the company behind Mio.
NavPix lets you upload geotagged images from Flickr to help you visually plan your journey and offers an alternative method for storing your favourite destinations.
The colourful Spirit interface on the Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV offers large icons for accessing the various features, although it seems a little slow to respond. It's a straightforward design and easy to navigate, with many of the options devoted to points of interest (POIs). An Explore mode is particularly useful for this purpose and, should you visit a place you like, the Capture feature lets you store the location for a future trip.
The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV also incorporates Mio's TruMap mapping software. According to the maker, TruMap has a unique design inspired by paper maps, with simplified graphics and colour for a simple, clutter-free look.
Screen brightness is automatically reduced and night mode activated as it gets dark. We found the result perhaps a little too sparse, although it was certainly easy to understand at a glance.
When planning a journey, we noted that the Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV doesn't try and cram all the information into one screen, instead requiring you to scroll down the page. This can be confusing at first, but only because it's not what we're used to.
The Mio Moov Spirit V505 TV becomes even more useful when you plug it into a PC, offering Local Search for POIs at your destination and the ability to plan your journey using Google Maps. You can also update your maps and safety-camera locations here.
Some users have suggested that the Mio tends to favour motorway routes when looking for the fastest route. While we didn't find this to be the case in our testing, its economical routing option aims to reduce the time and fuel wasted by tackling junctions.
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