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An Internet-connected personal navigation device (PND) from TomTom and a $249-suggested PND with free ad-supported traffic service from Nextar are among the key navigation launches here at International CES.
Dealers will also find:
touchscreen PNDs with motion user interface from Mio;
a top-of-the-line Garmin model with voice activation of almost every function;
iRiver's first dedicated PND; and
a model for motorcycles and one for golfers, both from Garmin.
For its sole CES launch, TomTom plans to show its Internet-connected Go 740 Live PND with live Google local search, live advanced traffic updates and faster satellite-acquisition time. It's the first Interet-connected PND from one of the market share leaders in the industry.
Internet-connected PNDs have been demonstrated by such companies as Magellan and Mio but not shipped. Dash Navigation sold such a product for several months in 2008 before it exited the GPS hardware market. That leaves only two recent entrants into the Internet-connected market: TeleNav, which is selling from its Web site, and Best Buy, which is selling a store-branded model.
The 740 connects to the Internet via cellular-GSM modem, which also helps the PND get quicker satellite fixes for GPS positioning, the company said. The Live 740 also takes into account historical traffic flow patterns to give users more accurate arrival times. In the 740, TomTom also expands speech-recognition capability beyond address input to include about 130 commands such as volume up, go home, and go to work.
The 740 also offers Bluetooth hands-free dialing, text-to-speech pronunciation of street names and maps of North America.
Wireless traffic updates for the Go 740 Live are supplied by Inrix.
The 740's pricing, ship date and wireless subscription fee were not available at press time.
Another innovation at CES comes from Mio, which is borrowing two iPhone-like features in a new five-model PND line that is more consumer-oriented than Mio's past offerings, the company said.
Mio's two flagship PNDs have flush, flat no-bezel touchscreens similar to an iPhone screen. The touchscreens' slide-touch feature lets users swipe a finger down the screen to scroll through lists of points of interest (POIs). The slide-touch feature will be available on all the new Mio models, although only the top-end Moov S556 and S556M, at a suggested $299 and $399, respectively, will offer the flush, flat screen.
The slide-touch feature was developed by the same company that produced it for Apple, Mio said.
Mio's flagship Moov S556M is also Mio's first PND to offer built-in MSN Direct real-time traffic, weather and other listings. Several other new Mio models offer the service as an option, requiring an optional antenna. The service will be free for a period yet to be specified. The top two models in Mio's line will also include Bluetooth.
The Mio 2009 line starts at $199 with the Moov S300, which offers text-to-speech pronunciation, maps of the U.S. and Canada, 12 million POIs and 3.5-inch slide-touch screen.
The MoovS500 steps up to a 4.7-inch screen with optional MSN Direct at a suggested $249. The $299 Moov S700, designed for use in larger vehicles, features a 7-inch screen that doubles as a video monitor. It is also MSN Direct-ready.
Jerry Barbera, Mio's sales and marketing VP, said the company is aiming to realign its product strategy to "be more typical of how consumer electronics products go to market with a line that addresses the needs of entry-level customers, and at the top end of the line is attractive to high-end customers."
Mio also said it is planning to enter new GPS-related product segments later this year.
Also at the show, Nextar is adding free lifetime traffic to its portable GPS line for the first time, with a new $249-suggested model becoming one of the lowest-priced PNDs on the market with free traffic. Garmin and Navigon each offer free traffic for the lifetime of the product at $299 and $229, respectively.
Like the Garmin unit, Nextar's Q4-LT uses advertising to support the cost of free traffic. The ads appear as banners and are targeted to the user's location. The service is available through Navteq, a Nextar spokesperson said.
The Q4-LT, due in the second quarter, features 4.3-inch screen, pronunciation of street names, and preloaded maps for 50 U.S. states and Canada. It comes with SD card slot, supports three languages and has 1.6 million points of interest. It also plays MP3 files and displays photos.
For its part, Garmin plans to show its first portable GPS to combine speech recognition and advanced map features. These features were offered in 2008 on separate models but not in the same SKU. In addition, the company is launching a "Golf GPS" device.
Garmin's new top-of-the-line Nuvi 805 series enables voice activation of almost every function. Voice activation includes the ability to speak aloud a destination address to "ask" for the nearest Starbucks. It requires no voice training.
The 805 series features an advanced map which includes the display of highway road signs at complex intersections and lane-change warnings when exiting the highway.
The series features 4.3-inch screen, 3-D maps, text-to-speech pronunciation of street names and preloaded maps of North America. Pricing and shipping were unavailable at press time.
Garmin's Golf GPS has a color touchscreen interface and provides maps of thousands of U.S. golf courses. It helps golfers gauge how far they are from the green so they can choose the right club.
Also new from Garmin is the company's first widescreen PND for motorcycles.
Garmin is also expected to offer a Nuvifone GPS/smartphone during the first half of 2009.
For its part, iRiver is launching its first dedicated PND, the NV Mini. It features 3.5-inch screen and built-in video and music player and photo viewer. Shipping and pricing were unavailable.
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