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Dash Unveils “Always Connected” Portable GPS

San Diego — Dash Navigation revealed details on the industry’s first “always connected” wireless portable navigation device expected next year.

At the DEMOfall show here, Dash showed its new Dash Express — the first portable GPS with enhanced two-way traffic capability that also doubles as an Internet appliance for the car.

As an Internet appliance, the Dash Express can perform Google searches from the car via its “always on” cellular connection. Shoppers can locate the nearest retailers for almost any product including hard-to-find items such as “a propane tank.” They can also find which local restaurants serve “fajitas” or other items, said Dash senior director of marketing Eric Klein.

The Express also tells users the gas prices at local stations, movie listings, restaurant reviews and it provides weather updates. The company will partner with web services to provide the above information, the service will cost $13 per month.

As an advanced GPS device, it notifies drivers of the current road speeds on up to three possible routes for each destination, allowing drivers to choose the fastest one.

Dash Navigation formally presented the device for the first time this week, after announcing an overview of the company’s plans last month.

Dash said the Express is connected to the Internet by a GPRS cellular connection and that seamlessly switches to Wi-Fi, where available. The unit also transmits information on the car’s route and road speed to a central service. Dash can then calculate the local road speeds.

Because it “knows” road speeds on various routes, it can offer a superior real-time traffic service, beyond typical incident reports, said Klein. “Because we know real flow data, we know if you are approaching a traffic incident but still are able to go 15 miles an hour. We know that you are still moving and when we do all the calculations, this is still the best way to go. No other device can figure that out.”

Klein claims that other devices also tend to reroute users to main highways and are less able to offer back road paths.

The price of the Dash Express is expected to fall in the mid-range of the market at the time of launch which is planned for the first quarter of 2007 in California exclusively. A national rollout it expected to follow in the summer of 2007.

Klein said if the product were to launch today, it would sell for $600 to $800 — the current mid-to-high range for portable GPS.

Dash has not yet announced its cellular partner, but Klein noted that its cellular connection will be hidden from the user. All service bills will be issued from Dash. He said the cost of the service is expected to be similar to that of satellite radio.

Finally, Dash claims that one of the most common complaints of GPS owners after six months of product usage is that their unit is out of date because of construction on new roads or new housing developments. Map upgrades can cost $100, said Klein noting that the Dash unit will be upgraded continually.