By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Here's a guide to what select personal navigation device (PND) makers are showing at International CES:
Amcor: The 4890, at an estimated $279, features 3-D graphics for buildings, landmarks and topography. It has a 4.8-inch screen, preloaded maps of North America, street-name guidance and Bluetooth.
Clarion: An "always on" portable Internet/GPS device blurs the distinction between a PND and a handheld computer.
The device, code named MiND, is not much larger than its 5.2-inch touchscreen and features high-speed wireless connection to allow full Internet access with page views formatted as they would appear on a PC screen. It also offers GPS turn-by-turn directions and is expected to be available in the third quarter at a tentative price in the $599 to $699 range.
Wireless access is achieved by Wi-Fi and either built-in 3G cellular or WiMAX. Clarion said it will decide on which of the latter two technologies it will support in the future. The Linux-based device may also be paired with a Bluetooth phone for Internet access.
Clarion's MiND is one of the first of a new class of Intel processor-based handheld PCs called Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that deliver full Internet access in a small form factor. Clarion says its device is the first MID that doubles as a PND.
It will be offered with a car docking device.
Dash Navigation: The $599 Dash Express PND incorporates GSM/GPRS cellular data modem built into its power cord to receive traffic reports and create reports by monitoring the road speed of its user, aggregating the data and broadcasting it to other Dash Express users. The device also offers Yahoo! Local search capability and is one of the first to display an overview of traffic in a metropolitan area vs. reports only on one route path. It also shows local gas prices and movie listings and provides street name guidance. It will be available online in February and at retailers this spring.
Service fees start at $9.99/month.
Garmin: The company plans to show what it says is the industry's first handheld GPS device for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts with zoom in/out 3-D map perspective, similar to that of Google Earth, and its first PND with voice input of a street address.
In its CES launches, the company is also moving to larger screens with a 5.2-inch model, one of the largest to date. And it is offering a second-generation MSN Direct service that adds stock price updates and news feeds to the current MSN Direct suite of real-time traffic/weather/movie/gas price updates.
Garmin said it is the first PND supplier to offer a 3-D elevation perspective in its Colorado 400t handheld outdoor GPS, which is aimed at hikers, hunters and other sportsmen. The zoom perspective offers a new level of detail for a GPS device because it lets users zoom out to see the terrain around an area and then zoom in for a closer, more traditional map view.
The Colorado 400t does not give turn-by-turn directions, but it shows roads and can give arrow cues toward a destination. At a tentative suggested price of $600, it will begin shipping this month to sports outlets, followed by full distribution in February.
Jeep Consumer Products: The GPS RT 300 with 3.5-inch screen, built-in MP3 player, video player and eBook reader features maps of the United States and is expected to ship this month at a suggested $399.
LG Electronics: Its new top-of-the line GPS, the LN790, shipped last month with 4.3-inch widescreen, optional real-time traffic, street-name announcements for upcoming turns and a steering-wheel-mount remote. It also has Bluetooth, video and audio playback at a suggested $699.
Magellan: A graphics processor in a new 5-inch PND in the Maestro Elite series offers semi-realistic street views on some streets in some cities. The PND shows building outlines and textures so drivers can orient themselves for the next turn, the company explained. It is also offering a new PND with a sleek design, resembling the iPhone.
Mio: The company plans to demonstrate the ability to add 3-D mountains and hills to its map backgrounds as another step toward "photo realistic" maps. The company also added built-in real-time traffic and street-name guidance to its entire 2008 widescreen line.
New models include the C320t at a suggested $349, the C520 at $399 and a C720tx $599. All also have new faster signal-acquisition times.
Mio will also demonstrate a lane assistance feature and may offer new free traffic promotions.
Other devices to look for are as follows:
Pioneer: The "hybrid" PND/in-dash GPS device features a large 5.8-inch screen. The AVIC-F500BT sits on the dashboard and ties into the existing sound system. It may be self-installed (via aux-in), or it can be professionally mounted and combined with a 50-watt (total) amplifier that can tie directly into the speaker outputs of the factory sound system. It also has an iPod input and offers "conversational voice recognition" so users can give voice commands such as "switch to iPod and play U2, track 1." Pricing was not available at press time.
Raytel: The company will ship this month one of the first PNDs to "read aloud" text messages from a Bluetooth phone via text-to-speech processing.
The Ego Drive has a 4.3-inch screen; built-in traffic, built-in portable media player, Bluetooth, USB port and SD card slot at a suggested $799.
TomTom: A new service provides local gas price listings for consumers who pair their GPRS Bluetooth cellular phone with a TomTom PND to display the data on the PND screen. The annual fee is $14.95/year.
The company will also extend its Map Share feature to almost all of its PNDs. Map Share lets users update maps using TomTom's desktop software and share the changes with other TomTom users.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.