It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at a GPS car navigation system from a critic’s point of view, but that time has finally come, as a few weeks ago we received the new Mio Spirit 8500 LM for testing . This one’s a device that is yet to be found in stores , but which will soon be and which promises to be big and fast, as well as forever up -t o - date, thanks to the Lifetime Map Updates from Mio. The question is if it really does offer everything it promises. Find the answer in our detailed review:
Unboxing the Mio Spirit 8500 LM
T he Mio Spirit 8500 LM comes in glossy gray cardboard box that’s dominated by a large photo of the GPS car navigation device inside.
If you roll or turn the box upside down, you’ll get to see lots of information about the car navigation system, like its most important features, the accessories bundled with it, or the software it works with.
Open the box and inside you will find the Mio Spirit 8500 LM car navigation device, its in-car charger, a windscreen mounting bracket, a software DVD, the warranty and a quick start guide.
Now that we’ve seen what’s inside the box, let’s see what the Mio Spirit 8500 LM has to offer in terms of hardware specifications:
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The Mio Spirit 8500 LM is powered by an ARM Cortex A7 processor running at 800 MHz, which should be more than enough for making fast route calculations while travelling.
You also get a very generous touch screen that’s no more and no less than 6.2 inches in size. Its display resolution of 800x480 pixels might not impress if you compare it with other devices like your smartphone, for instance. However, it’s more than enough for a GPS car navigation system that only has to display maps.
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM car navigation system includes a microSD card slot that can be used to expand the storage space, and a mini USB port that’s used both for charging the device and for connecting it to a computer.
Having such a large screen means that the device is also quite big: the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is 6.8 inches (173.1 mm) by 4 inches (101.5 mm) by 0.7 inches (17.7 mm), and it weighs 9.7 ounces (275 grams). If you'd like to see more details about the specifications of the Mio Spirit 8500 LM, check its official website: Mio Spirit 8500 LM Specifications.
Design and build quality
First of all, we’d like to point out the fact that the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is a good looking device, that’s surely going to attract the attention of those entering your car. The front side of the car navigation system is dominated by the very large 6.2 inch matte screen and the glossy black plastic border around it.
The back of the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is all plastic, and the bottom half is textured so you’ll have a good grip when you’ll want to adjust the position of the device on your windshield. The back is the place where you’ll also find the power and the reset buttons.
The power button is large and easy to identify, while the reset one is deep inside the case and can only be reached with the tip of a pen or something similar.
All the buttons are positioned on the left side of the device, so they will be easy to reach by any left hand car driver. Maybe not so easy for those of you who live in countries where the driver sits on the right.
The mini USB port and the microSD card slot are also found on the left side of the Mio Spirit 8500 LM.
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM is charged by a 2 amperes in-car power charger that seems solid and robust, so we’re pretty confident that it’s strong enough to resist a few accidental force pulls.
A good thing about the charger is the fact that its connector is angled at 90 degrees, so it’s easy to hide the wire behind the car navigation system. On the other hand, there are two things we didn’t like about the charger. First of all, this charger is fixed, meaning that you cannot take the wire off it and use it to connect the Mio Spirit 8500 LM to a computer. Secondly, the connector and the port used for charging and transferring data is mini USB. That’s quite a strange thing to see today, in an age where even micro USB is quickly disappearing and people are moving on to USB Type C.
Overall, the Mio Spirit 8500 LM looks great and feels like a robust device. It’s a GPS car navigation system that will fit nicely in any car.
Features and navigation
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM comes with Lifetime Map Updates and Lifetime Safety Camera Updates , which means that Mio promises to give you as many as four updates each year, for as long as your device will work. That’s a bargain considering how much maps used to cost a few years ago. However, it’s also something most GPS car navigation systems manufacturers must provide their clients with these days, when Google and many others offer free alternatives even on the cheapest smartphones out there. The Mio Spirit 8500 LM that we tested came preloaded with the maps of all European countries. Although you could buy this car navigation system and simply start using it, we highly recommend that you first connect it to a computer, install the MioMore Desktop software and check whether there are any map updates available. We did that, and we had the nice surprise of finding two available updates: one for the Western Europe and one for the Eastern Europe countries.
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM car navigation system uses a powerful processor, for such a device, and that’s easily seen. I personally own a older Becker Ready 45 ICE which, for lack of other options, I used to compare the Mio Spirit 8500 LM with. The latter is definitely faster than my old friend: the Mio Spirit 8500 LM starts in 12 seconds, while the Becker Ready 45 ICE needs 26 seconds to do the same.
Even getting out from the standby mode is a whole lot faster on the new Mio Spirit 8500 LM. It takes only one second for it to do that, and it takes nearly 5 for the old Becker.
Although I have good eyes, my wife doesn’t, so she can testify that the very large screen you get on the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is easy to use. Plus, the fact that the screen is so large also means that it’s very easy to touch the buttons while driving, even if you’re going off-road. :)
As far as the GPS signal goes, I didn’t encounter any issues on the Mio Spirit 8500 LM. Unless you’re in a tunnel or in a subterranean parking lot, this car navigation system is able to locate you on the map in a second or two. And after that, while navigating, you won’t see big lags between what the Mio Spirit 8500 LM shows on its screen and the reality in front of your eyes. The device is fast enough to keep the virtual reality on it in sync with the real physical road you’re driving on.
I’d also like to point out that the software you get on the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is very easy to use. With just a few taps, you can search for locations using keywords, you can specify exact street locations to where you want to go, you can plan trips in detail and you can also choose the type of route you prefer.
Finally, a very interesting feature Mio offers to its clients is the possibility of renting maps. Thus, when you are going on a holiday or a trip to a country for which you don’t own the map, you can simply go on Mio’s website and rent it for 3, 7 or 30 days, all for a small fraction of the cost of owning that map.
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM is a fast device that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to doing its most important job: guiding you while on the road.
Pros and cons
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM has more than a few positive aspects:
- It has a very large screen
- It has a fast processor
- It looks good
- It appears to be a sturdy device
- It has a very simple and very easy to use interface
- It includes the maps of all the countries on your continent (we tested for Europe)
- It offers Lifetime Map Updates and Lifetime Safety Camera Updates
- You can rent maps for a fraction of the cost of buying them
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On the other hand, there are also some weak points about the Mio Spirit 8500 LM:
- It uses mini USB - who does that in this age and day?
- It doesn’t include a USB to mini USB data transfer cable in its standard package
- It has no Bluetooth support, so you don’t get to use your smartphone in handsfree mode
The Mio Spirit 8500 LM feels like a very solid GPS car navigation system, a device that has more than a few aces up its sleeve. The very large screen and the Lifetime Map Updates you get are probably the essential things about it. However, the fast hardware as well as the very easy to use user interface are also going to hang in the balance when considering whether to buy it or not.
Although the Mio Spirit 8500 LM hasn’t been launched officially yet, its Amazon price seems to be right under 150 British pounds, making it quite a bargain. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any trace of the Mio Spirit 8500 LM in the Americas, so it’s likely that Mio doesn’t intend to sell it there. We consider the Mio Spirit 8500 LM GPS car navigation system to be a very good choice for any driver who wants a good GPS device that does not compromise on quality, but which you can buy for a relatively affordable price. From my point of view, there are two categories of drivers for whom the Mio Spirit 8500 LM is especially a good choice: you should consider buying it if you have eye problems and need a large screen which you can easily see without glasses, or… if you travel a lot and you need road maps for many of the countries found on the continent you live in. Those Lifetime Map Updates together with the Lifetime Safety Camera Updates will prove their worth in time, over and over again.