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Garmin-Asus PND Phones Coming To U.S.

The first two co-branded Garmin-Asus portable navigation device (PND) phones are coming to the U.S., with the G60 due in the first half and the M20 with Windows Mobile due sometime later in the year, Garmin told TWICE.

Under the co-brand initiative, the Garmin-Asus name applies only to PND phones, while the Garmin brand will continue to appear on PNDs lacking phone capability, a spokeswoman said. Computer-maker Asus also manufactures cellphones on an OEM basis.

The two touch-screen-equipped PND phones, which feature virtual QWERTY and dialing keypads, were unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but the company didn’t reveal ship dates at the time or whether the devices were coming to U.S. shores. The company still hasn’t revealed U.S. pricing or whether the GSM/HSDPA-technology phones would be sold unlocked in the U.S. or through carriers, but during a demonstration at the recent CTIA show, one phone’s display screen carried the AT&T logo. Both phones’ HSDPA bands are also optimized for AT&T’s 3G network, not T-Mobile’s 3G network.

The Nuvifone M20 operates on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS, whereas the Nuvifone G60 is a Linux-based phone.

Both feature Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, built-in maps of North America, turn-by-turn driving directions, and a suite of online applications that wirelessly delivers traffic information, White Pages, weather, movie times and local events. It also includes Google local search. The applications retrieve the most updated information as well as data not typically stored in embedded POI databases, the spokeswoman said.

The Ciao! location-based application available on both models accesses multiple location-based social networks so users can see their friends’ location on a map and navigate to their location.

Other features common to both models include viewing of Microsoft documents, 3-megapixel camera that automatically geo-tags images, HTML Web browsing, portrait and landscape viewing, an included dash-mounting bracket that also recharges the device and automatic muting of voice prompts when a call comes in.

The G60 is a quadband GSM/EDGE phone that operates in 3G HSDPA mode in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and overseas 2100MHz band. It comes with 3.5-inch touchscreen with finger-swipe scrolling and POP3/IMAP4 email redirection.

The M20 is a triband 850/1800/1900MHz GSM/EDGE phone with U.S. 850/1900MHz HSDPA. It adds enterprise email support and Opera web browser lets users zoom and pan Web pages with their finger. The screen size is 2.8 inches.