Mio Navman Moov Spirit 500 Traffic review

Jim Martin
17 Nov 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A feature-packed satnav, but the touchscreen can be unresponsive. It's also quite expensive and there are better-value alternatives.



The Mio brand has been absent from the UK for a couple of years, but the company has bought Navman and combined both brands.

The Moov Spirit 500 Traffic represents the top of the 500 range, with full maps of 23 European countries, Bluetooth (for weather, Google local search and hands-free calling via a Bluetooth phone) and Traffic Message Channel (TMC) traffic information.

It's just 14mm thick, with a larger than average 4.7in widescreen display. The TMC receiver is built in, so there's no external electronics, and there's a microSD slot for adding to its 2GB of storage.

The Spirit part of the name refers to the new interface, which can be controlled with finger swipes. This was rather hit and miss in our tests, and frustrating compared with an iPhone's flawless touchscreen interface. We preferred to use the arrow controls to navigate menus.

The main menu has all the buttons you're likely to need, including Find, My Places, Explore (which shows local points of interest), Traffic, Map, Capture (which records your current position) and Travel Book (a list of rather terse city guides). Scroll down and you'll find the option to navigate home, find a petrol station, plan a multi-destination trip and find nearby emergency services, restaurants and car parks, cash points and other places of interest.

The Spirit 500 offers more ways of finding a destination than any satnav we've seen, including a useful keyword search. However, it occasionally refused to let us enter house numbers that we knew were valid, and suggested nearby streets that included those numbers, rather than offering to navigate to 'anywhere' in our chosen road.

One of Mio's goals was to tidy up the driving view, but while the white background looks clean, the default zoom level (which can't be changed) is surprisingly low, and shows too much of the surrounding area for our liking. It zooms in automatically at junctions and shows lane guidance for motorway exits. Many will appreciate the fact that it announces road names aloud, although audio was distorted even at low volumes.

Tapping the screen while driving allows you to add an intermediate destination (useful for a brief detour to refuel) or avoid a roadblock. You can also mute the sound, but you can only adjust the volume in the main menu - a disappointing oversight. The 500 Traffic is packed with features, though. Route options includes an economy setting that minimises the number of junctions. NavPix lets you navigate to destinations simply by tapping on images (some of which are preinstalled, such as Big Ben), and the MioMore desktop software lets you add extra content, such as extra POIs and NavPix locations.

However, the unresponsive interface and other niggles mean we still prefer TomTom's Go 530T. It may have a slightly smaller 4.3in screen, but it has even more features and costs just £184 including VAT from




Navigation softwareSpirit
Map dataTeleAtlas
Countries coveredEurope
Traffic informationTMC
Toll road warningyes
Roadblock avoidanceyes
Speed camera alertsyes


Typestandalone satnav
Compatible operating systemN/A
Viewable size4.7in
Native resolution480x272
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card includedN/A
GPS receiverSiRFstar III with InstantFixII
Accessoriescar charger, windscreen mount, USB cable
CCD effective megapixelsN/A
ExtrasWcities travel guides

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years RTB


GPS London route calculation test12s
GPS UK route calculation test16s