Panasonic Enters PND Market At SEMA Show

By Amy Gilroy On Nov 5 2007 - 8:00am

Panasonic debuted at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show its first personal navigation device (PND), and said it will offer two new in-dash models for spring delivery.

The company's first PND, the Strada CN-GP50U, will ship in December and is one of the few PNDs to offer a 5-inch display.

The CN-GP50U has a slim-line design and includes a number of features not yet widely deployed in PNDs including a lane-assist feature that highlights in orange the best lane for the driver to occupy for his upcoming exit or turn. It also displays an icon and warning tone when the driver exceeds the speed limit.

The CN-GP50U also has voice recognition to verbally input one's destination with the capacity to understand 500 verbal commands. It has Bluetooth for hands-free calling and is one of the few PNDs with a GPS-assist, electronic compass feature. "When you are in an area where the signal is obstructed, like a tunnel, once a PND loses its signal, the icon stops traveling. With the electronic compass and software that we've developed, it allows the PND to continue to operate and you still get your moving map until in re-establishes a signal," said Panasonic mobile entertainment director Rob Lopez.

Panasonic entered the U.S. navigation market in May with a 30GB in-dash navigation system and will deliver two additional in-dash models with further details on the products to be announced at International CES in January.

Lopez said Panasonic's first in-dash GPS, which debuted at a suggested $1,799, has met sales expectations despite increasing price competition in the market. Panasonic is a leader in in-dash navigation in Japan with a 30 percent market share, he said, noting that the PND market in Japan is almost non-existent as people rely instead on in-dash products.

The new CN-GP50U PND will be available through car stereo retailers and also through a broader distribution, which might include Panasonic TV retailers, said Lopez who said the company is still exploring various avenues of distribution.

Other basic features of the CN-GP50U include preloaded maps of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico, and an SD card slot and USB port as well as 1.8 million points of interest.

The Strada CN-GP50U is expected to carry a suggested retail of $499.

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