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Magellan Intros PND With Voice Control

New York — Magellan introduced the first new personal navigation devices (PNDs) designed under its new management team.

The Maestro series is capped by a $699 PND that is one of Magellan’s first portables with voice control. Users can ask the device to search for an address, point of interest (POI) or to perform other functions.

All three new Maestro models include an AAA button for roadside assistance information and AAA Tourbook guide information.

Magellan claims it has simplified its user interface and cleaned up its maps for better “at a glance” interaction. The interface now has fewer soft buttons.

Leader model Maestro 4000, at a suggested $399, has a 4.3-inch WQVGA-color touch screen with built-in maps of 48 states, Bluetooth and SD card slots. It displays POIs by exit so users can see a choice of gas stations, restaurants, etc., at each upcoming exit. It also gives users a choice of fastest route or shortest distance for each destination search.

The step-up 4040 at a suggested $499 works with an optional $99 real-time traffic receiver and includes maps of the full United States and Puerto Rico. Both models ship by mid-March.

The top-of-the line Maestro 4050 bundled real-time traffic with the receiver and adds voice recognition. It also announces the street names of upcoming turns and it is expected to ship in May.

Magellan said it may offer proprietary SD card applications for the Maestro in the future. As part of its agreement with AAA, club member receive a two-year warranty on the products vs. the typical one-year guarantee.

Magellan began selling navigation 15 years ago primarily as a marine and aviation GPS company. Four years ago it decided to concentrate mainly on handheld devices for cars and outdoors. The company was sold by Thales to Shah Capital Partners last fall. In December, the company appointed Nelson Chan, former executive VP of SanDisk, to the position of CEO of Magellan.

Since the purchase by Shah Capital, Magellan says it has taken steps to become more nimble. It changed from an OEM to an ODM model, but the company continues to offer its own software.