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Sony Launches New GPS

San Diego – Sony is following up the launch of its first portable GPS unit last March with a new nav unit that includes real-time traffic, double the memory and a slimmer form factor.

The company hopes to surpass the 5 percent market share it won last summer in the hotly contested GPS market with its original NV-U70 by offering a full line of models starting with the NV-U71T. “There will be a full lineup announced over the next 60 days,” said senior marketing manager Andrew Sivori.

Sony’s new NV-U71T can receive Navteq real-time traffic, transmitted over RDS for a service fee of $4.95 per month. The service is automatically enabled out of the box “the minute you turn on the device” for 90 days free of charge and consumers have the option to subscribe thereafter, Sivori said.

The NV-U71T offers 2GB of memory and preloaded maps of Canada and the U.S. including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. It has 7 million points of interest, compared to 1.6 million in the previous model, and a redesigned interface that allows users to bypass layers of menus. The touch-screen unit uses a system similar to the Palm Pilot’s Graffiti input software. If a user wants to return home, he can draw an inverted “V” on the screen to indicate the command to return home. The unit recognizes about six such commands.

Also new is an improved mounting system with a super suction cup that will even adhere to a rough surface on the dashboard.

The NV-U71T will ship in December at a suggested retail price of $499.

Sivori said of the GPS market in general, “We’re not expecting to see any paling of growth in portable navigation over the next 3 to 5 years.”