TomTom Targets Mid, High Ends

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Las Vegas - TomTom is adding to its  flagship Go series of portable navigation devices (PNDs) and unveiling a new mid-range series.

In the Go series, the first Go Live 2500-series PND will be the first new TomTom PND in several years with embedded cellular modem, enabling drivers to perform local Google searches and obtain updated weather reports and fuel prices. The 2500-series model will also be the company's first PND in the U.S. with TomTom's own cellular-delivered HD Traffic service, which is operational in Europe and will go live in the U.S. in mid-2011 for access through the PND's embedded cellular modem. The service will combine real-time incident data and live traffic-flow data, which will be provided by GPS-equipped fleet vehicles, iPhones equipped with a TomTom navigation app, and cellular-embedded TomTom PNDs.

The new midrange series, called VIA, brings voice recognition and hands-free Bluetooth, among other features, to TomTom's midrange products for the first time. Bluetooth and voice recognition appears in two of the four.

The new Go and VIA models will be available in the spring. Prices were unavailable.

In the new Go Live 2500 series, the first model will sport the 5-inch capacitive, swipeable touchscreens of the recently launched Go 2405 TM and 2505 TM at suggested retails of $299 and $319. All three also offer a simpler user interface to get to a given screen with fewer taps, and all three offer the company's first magnetic mount to dock the PNDs quickly with one hand.

All three Go models also offer voice recognition, hands-free Bluetooth, lifetime map updates and continuous route monitoring, a new feature that automatically alerts a driver to traffic delays and asks the driver whether to calculate a faster route.

To these features, the Go Live 2500-series model adds intuitive voice recognition, which eliminates the need for special language to control key features by voice. Drivers can say "take me to" a destination instead of saying "navigate to," said product management director Robert Belmont-Peters.

More important, the Go Live model adds TomTom HD Traffic and other cellular-delivered services. Because of faster data speeds compared to analog-FM-based traffic services, the company's HD Traffic service is promoted as twice as accurate and able to offer traffic reports on secondary roads. Faster speed also enables drivers to receive traffic-flow data, not just accident reports.

The cellular modem also accesses local Google Search to get points-of-interest information not available in the unit's embedded POI database as well as weather and fuel-price reports.

The subscription price of the traffic/data services hasn't been announced.

The only other cellular-equipped TomTom PNDs are the three-year-old Go Live 740 and 340. Their bundled traffic/data services cost $10/month.

For the midrange VIA launch, TomTom is using resistive touchscreens. Like the new Go Live model, the four feature the simpler interface, and two of the four add Bluetooth and voice recognition, two features appearing in the company's midrange products for the first time.

All four VIA models are also slimmer than current midrange models, and they add a "flip screen," which automatically reorients itself when mounted upside down. The VIA models also add an integrated mount that folds back and leaves the PND small enough to still fit in a pocket.

The four VIA models include the 1405 and 1505 with 4.3- and 5-inch screens. They lack Bluetooth and voice recognition, but those features appear in the 1435 and 1535, also with 4.3- and 5-inch screens, respectively. Their voice-recognition uses the company's new intuitive voice-recognition technology.

All four come with optional lifetime map updates and optional lifetime RDS-TMC traffic reports, and they feature continuous route monitoring.


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