By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Nokia will turn its planned 5140 phone into a handheld GPS navigation system with route-guidance functions when it ships a GPS-equipped snap-on shell in the second quarter.
The introduction is part of a nascent trend by wireless-handset companies to incorporate GPS-based route-guidance functions into cellphones.
Recently, national master agent and distributor American Wireless began offered Nextel's GPS-equipped i730 phone preloaded with Telenavigation's Java-based TeleNav application (see TWICE, Feb. 9, p. 36). American Wireless is also distributing the application so dealers can load it onto two other GPS-equipped Nextel phones.
Unlike the Nextel models, Nokia's GSM-based 5140 is targeted to active outdoor types, sporting a splash-, shock- and dust-resistant cover. The 850/ 1,800/1,900MHz phone also features digital compass, flashlight, VGA camera, FM stereo, Java and push-to-talk (PTT).
The Xpress-on GPS shell gets power from the phone's battery and offers improved protection against splashes and dust. It and the phone will be available to U.S. GSM/GPRS carriers in the second quarter. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
The cover comes with two Java-navigation applications, both offering route guidance.
One application, Travel Guide Service, requires a subscription and access to a GSM/GPRS network to access maps and directions to a destination, which can be chosen by address or by a points-of-interest menu that includes nearby restaurants, parks and hotels. Users enter a starting point and destination, and the application downloads a set of instructions to get them there. The application then displays a map, current location and the route it has selected. A Nokia spokesman wasn't sure whether audio prompts would be available through the speakerphone function.
A subscription that includes mapping data for one region will be free of charge for one year after phone activation.
The separate GPS application, which can be used without GSM/ GPRS network coverage, is designed largely for hikers, campers and boaters and works like this:
Users who want to find their way to a particular waypoint view a rotating compass on the phone's screen and an arrow that shows the bearing to the next waypoint. Users store waypoints — such as a waterfall or a store — in the phone's memory for later access by either the GPS or Travel Guide applications. Waypoints can also be sent via SMS to a compatible Nokia phone.
The Tracking and Return Track features keep a record of a user's journey by recording points that the user passes through. The recorded points help guide the user back to the starting point.
The cover also features a trip computer that keeps track of current and accumulated trip data, such as course, speed, elevation, distance, trip time and odometer.
In dedicated handheld navigation systems, route guidance with turn-by-turn instructions and automatic rerouting are available at prices starting at about $450 from Garmin, which also offers a $550 GPS-equipped Palm PDA. Transportable car-to-car models start at about $1,000 for models including one from Garmin, the company said. These types of devices, however, don't require a monthly subscription.
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