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Garmin Asus nüvifone M10 review

Barry de la Rosa
8 Sep 2010
Garmin Asus nüvifone M10
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
299
inc VAT

Poor battery life, an obsolete operating system and confusing software make this hybrid satnav/mobile phone frustrating to use, and we don't see the point in it.

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Specifications

Windows Mobile 6.5.3, 3.5in 480x800 display

GPS manufacturer Garmin has teamed up with Asus to bring out the nüvifone M10, a large-screened smartphone running Windows Mobile that comes with Garmin's satnav software plus a car cradle and charger. It's quite a chunky phone, being 14mm thick and weighing slightly more than the iPhone or HTC Desire, plus its rubberised casing makes it feel sturdy.

The 3.5in, 800x480 display uses a resistive touch interface, so it relies on pressure rather than the conductive nature of your skin. It's reasonably responsive for a resistive interface, but the inclusion of a stylus speaks volumes about the touch interface. The manufacturers have made some modifications such as adding larger buttons for common tasks, but inevitably at some point you'll find yourself trying to choose an option on a tiny drop-down menu that really requires the precision of a stylus.

Windows Mobile is a poor choice for a new device, Windows Phone 7 is due out soon, and the old operating system suffers terribly in comparison to its competitors. Its interface wasn’t originally designed for fingertip use, hence Garmin Asus' bolted-on modifications. It has some advantages - native Exchange support, the inclusion of Office Mobile and access to the slowly-improving Windows Marketplace - but overall it's not a patch on the dedicated touch interfaces of Android and iOS.

Garmin Asus nüvifone M10

Battery life in our light-usage test was under 12 hours, which is poor. You'll need to carefully manage your usage of power-intensive features such as WiFi, GPS and 3G data if you want to get a full day's use out of the phone.

Where the m10 is supposed to strike back is as a fully-fledged satnav. Garmin's navigation software is pre-installed (with maps of the UK and Ireland) and the navigation view looks just like its nuvi range of standalone satnavs. The purple line clearly shows your route, and voice prompts are timely and loud (the phone's volume rocker can be used to adjust volume on the move). Road names are read aloud, which is useful in suburban areas.

Routes were recalculated very quickly when we took a wrong turn, and there's also lane assistance for motorway junctions. These include the actual road signs, but they're hard to read on the small screen. More distracting is highway mode, which shows road signs for the next three junctions on the right-hand side, and the distances to each in real-time. This is very distracting and almost impossible to read - it really needs a screen twice as big.

Unfortunately, the menus aren't as easy to use as Garmin's dedicated satnavs, and it took us ages to find them as you have to click the Search icon on the main Windows desktop. From there you can do a Google Local Search, enter an address, search for a point of interest, navigate home, see a list of local towns or even enter coordinates. Annoyingly, Windows' onscreen keyboard is too small and imprecise - we made far more errors when entering a seven-digit postcode than we ever have on a standalone satnav.

Confusingly, the options are in another separate application, called Tools in Windows' main menu. Here you can view a list of directions for your route, browse the map, see a description of your current destination (and find the nearest car park, petrol station and emergency services) or see a simulation of the route.

Preferences are stored in yet another place (under Settings > Navigation from the Windows main home screen), which is annoying. However, we couldn't find an option to avoid roadblocks, and there's no easy way to manually switch between day and night modes.

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