By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Limited versions of Internet search engines will soon turn up on new cellular-connected personal navigation devices (PNDs), essentially creating a "live" point of interest (POI) feature.
At International CES, Magellan announced plans to offer Google Local search on an upcoming PND, and Dash Navigation said it will offer a Yahoo! Local search feature on its Dash Express PND due in spring.
For its part, Mio demonstrated a "proof of concept" GPS device with Internet search capability and plans to offer the feature in the United States in the second half.
The PNDs connect to Internet search engines via embedded cellular GPRS data modems.
Although the PNDs will connect to the Internet, most will not offer full Internet browsing, only local searches for addresses and for finding products and services in the area surrounding the PND.
"We do not want to have a full Web browser in the car to distract the driver," said Magellan VP/GM Christain Bubenheim. "We've made a one-click interface. We need to bring it to the car in a way that is meaningful. It's not a full Internet portal."
Dash is limiting its Internet search capability to what it calls a "65 mph user interface" and noted that many of its users are likely to own smartphones already with full Web browsing, said marketing senior VP Robert Acker.
Meantime, Magellan announced a new Maestro Elite 5340 PND with Google Local search at a suggested $1,299. The 5340, due in March, will include a GPRS modem that connects the device to the Internet. Details on the Internet service fee are not yet available, but Magellan will offer a free service package for between three and 12 months, with pricing thereafter to be announced.
The 5-inch PND is also Magellan's first to offer voice entry of street addresses. It also has built-in traffic capability with historic traffic information to take into account past traffic patterns on a given road, and at a given hour, when calculating "fastest routes" and estimated times of arrival. The device "knows" that a certain highway is congested at 5 p.m. on Friday but is traffic-free on Sunday at 10 a.m., the company explained.
The Magellan device also shows 3D landmarks and 3D building outlines and textures in certain cities. Other features include Bluetooth and wireless FM transmitter to play audio back through the car's audio system.
Mio's prototype relied on the user's cellphone SIM card to provide Internet capability, but future PND models will include built-in GPRS.
The upcoming Dash Express features built-in GPRS cellular for its Yahoo! Local search at a monthly service fee of $10 to $15, depending on the service plan. That device will also be able to import information from www.craigslist.org (such as real-estate listings) and weather-update information, said Acker. House hunters setting out on a Sunday could download the listings for local open houses and then receive turn-by-turn directions, he noted.
Alpine and Azentek also showed prototype in-car devices with a WiMAX connection at CES. Alpine's model, developed with Oki Electric and Runcom, uses wireless Mobile WiMAX to stream maps, real-time traffic and other information to the device. Azentek showed an in-car PC with off-board navigation capability enabled by Networks in Motion over WiMAX.
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