West Chester, Ohio -
launched what it calls the industry's first portable navigation device (PND) with built-in radar/laser detector.
The $649.95-suggested Passport iQ simultaneously delivers turn-by-turn driving instructions while looking out for nearby radar and laser guns.
The device is available direct to consumers from Escort through the end of the year, after which sales will be opened up to on-line and brick-and-mortar dealers. The company's dealer base includes Best Buy, Amazon and four national distributors.
Escort has already begun to promote the device through car enthusiast magazines. Next week, it plans to launch TV ads as well as banner ads on web sites, a spokesman told TWICE.
The device will appeal to consumers who want to reduce dashboard clutter, and it will help expand the radar/laser-detector industry's largely male demographic to more women because it look less like a radar detector and more like a PND, the spokesman continued. The device also offers tone-alert options that would appeal more to females, he added.
Also in the works is a version that will incorporate hands-free Bluetooth as well as embedded FM-radio-delivered live traffic updates. Targeted availability is the first quarter.
As a PND, the Passport iQ displays 3D Navteq street maps on its 5-inch color touchscreen and delivers voice-guided turn-by-turn directions with lane-assist. Via an embedded database and GPS, it also provides speed-limit information and overlays the location of red-light cameras, speed cameras, and high-risk speed traps on the maps. In addition, it issues a warning if a driver exceeds the speed limit.
Consumers can switch the screen's display between PND mode and radar/laser mode. In PND mode, the screen displays a full-screen map, but a small area at the lower left displays radar-sensitivity selection. The area turns red when a laser or radar is detected, and a bar moves based on signal strength. The visual alerts are accompanied by audible alerts.
In radar/laser mode, most of the screen displays radar/laser information, but a banner at the top of the screen displays the name of the next street on which to turn while the device delivers turn-by-turn voice prompts.
The product comes with a free 90-day subscription to Escort's Defender Database of traffic-light, speed-trap, and speed-camera locations, which the company updates weekly and can be updated by consumers via a download to a PC. A one-year subscription is $29.95, and a three-year sub is $49.95.
The product will be displayed at next week's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, which runs from Tuesday, Nov. 1 through Friday, Nov. 5, in Las Vegas.
Escort manufactures radar/laser detectors and other products under the Escort, Passport, Redline, Solo, Vector and Beltronics brands. Products include GPS-tracking devices and a PND integrated into a windshield-mounted rearview mirror.