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Raytel announced at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show last week one of the first personal navigation devices (PNDs) to "read aloud" text messages from a Bluetooth phone.
The new Ego Drive PND is a full-feature model with 4.3-inch screen; built-in traffic; built-in portable media player (PMP); and Bluetooth for hands free dialing, verbal text messages and audio streaming. It also pronounces street names, and has a USB port and SD card slot.
The device is Raytel's first PND in the United States.
When a text message comes in to the driver's cellular phone, it is sent into memory in the PND. The user pushes a button and the PND "reads" the message through its text-to-speech engine.
The Ego Drive has built-in maps of the United States and Canada and is expected to ship in January at a suggested retail of $799.
Raytel collaborated on the PND and other Bluetooth products with Germany-based Funkwerk, a leading European Bluetooth supplier second to Parrot in market share, said Raytel.
Four additional products were introduced at SEMA, under the Ego brand, in conjunction with Funkwerk.
The simplest of the new Bluetooth devices is the Ego Cup for $120. The unit sits in a cup holder and connects to the cigarette lighter adapter to provide hands-free calling from a Bluetooth phone. It is user installable and has a built-in microphone and speaker plus DSP noise and echo cancellation. It is expected to ship in December.
Next in the line is the Ego Talk, a professionally installed Bluetooth adapter that can sit on the dash and adds audio streaming from an iPod or MP3 device. It mutes the stereo when a call comes in and will carry a suggested retail in the $170 range.
This is joined by the Ego Flash at $249, which offers a 1.6-inch display and voice recognition. Users can press a button on the device and say, "Call Joe Smith," and the device will place the call. It also offers the same features at the Ego Talk.
Also new is the Ego Look at $349, which is similar to the Ego Flash but has a larger, 2.2-inch display and has no buttons to push, as it uses a remote device for controls. All the Ego products, with the exception of the Ego Drive, are expected to ship in December.
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