Pharos Adds 2nd-Generation PND Phones - Twice

Pharos Adds 2nd-Generation PND Phones

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Pharos, the supplier of navigation services and portable navigation devices (PNDs), launched a pair of second-generation PDA phones that double as Internet-connected PNDs.

The new GSM phones, the Traveler 127 and 117, are the company's first to offer 3G cellular speeds, assisted GPS and Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional operating system. The previous model, launched January 2007, featured Windows Mobile 5.0.

The Traveler 127 features 2.5-inch touchscreen and hard QWERTY keyboard, and the 117 features a 2.8-inch touchscreen and no QWERTY keyboard. Both retail for a suggested $529 and will be available as unlocked phones on Dec. 1 from major online retailers, including Amazon.com, Dell.com, Expansys.com and Newegg.com, the company said.

To navigate, consumers get the choice of buying U.S. and Canadian maps on a $99 2GB MicroSD card, or the option of renting downloaded maps over the air from Pharos. When traveling, consumers will be able to rent a corridor map for their specific route, a regional map or the map of a foreign country for a day, week, month or year. Access to the maps would expire after the paid-for period expires. Prices are $1.99 for one day of access, $4.99 for a week, $6.99 for a month or $49.99 for a year.

Unlike cellphone-based navigation, however, the maps and route calculation software does not reside on a cellular-connected server but on the phone itself, Pharos president James Oyang told TWICE. Pharos's solution provides greater reliability than the navigation services offered by cellular carriers, he said. "With cellular-based navigation, you see an image of a server-based map, and the routing is done by the cellular server. You can lose all this when you turn a corner."

As Internet-connected PNDs, both devices and their predecessor receive real-time traffic updates, map updates, and updated points-of-interest (POI) data. The new models add Follow Me service, making it possible for people to view the GPS location of Pharos users through their own Windows Mobile device on through an Internet-connected PC. All of these services are free for one year with the new models. Pricing after that hasn't been determined.

Like their predecessor, both models feature quadband GSM/EDGE cellular-data technology and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, but the new models add tri-band high-speed packet access (HSPA).

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