More Players Enter Portable Nav Market

By Amy Gilroy On Apr 5 2004 - 6:00am

Several new portable navigation systems are coming to market this spring, as the segment continues to grow and attract new entrants.

Emerson Mobile is one of the latest newcomers to the market, with a new portable car-based system that uses a SecureDigital (SD) slot for map loading and is based on a fast 200MHz processor.

Called the NV-5000, the unit has a 3.8-inch color LCD touch screen and 128MB of embedded SD RAM, plus 128MB of flash memory for map storage.

Emerson says users can enter destinations via touch screen for turn-by-turn directions and automatic rerouting. The unit mounts on the dash and comes with a GPS receiver, antenna, cigarette lighter adapter, AC power adapter, USB cable interface, stylus pen and set of CDs containing the full United States map for uploading to a PC. Users then load the desired sectors onto an SD card. An SD card can hold the entire Northeast, said Emerson.

The NV-5000 is based on the Microsoft Windows CE V4.2 operating system. It is expected to ship mid-April at a suggested retail price of $899.

Atlanta-based TomTom is also using SD memory in its new portable navigation unit designed for both handheld operation and use in the car.

Called the TomTom Go, it has a 3.5-inch touch screen display, SD card slot and "satellite assistance" sensors for continued service in urban canyons, but without the need to connect the unit to the car's engine (as in "dead reckoning.").

The company says the TomTom Go was designed for ease of use. It has only one button (for on and off) and relies on a touch screen user-interface. The unit is also designed for a younger consumer and comes with changeable faceplates to match different cars and styles.

"A lot of research has shown that self-contained units, in the past, have been tricky to use and to mount. We're looking at navigation in a completely new way," said TomTom president Jocelyn Vigreux.

The TomTom Go offers 3D map views, and it has up to five-hour capacity for continuous navigating through Lithium ion batteries. Shipping is expected in May at prices between $799 and $899.

Garmin is also shipping a new StreetPilot portable navigation system with preloaded maps. The 2620 includes a pre-programmed hard drive that stores maps of the entire United States and metropolitan areas of Canada.

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