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Garmin’s nuvifone takes centre stage in Barcelona

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The imminent arrival of Garmin’s nuvifone, first announced in November last year, has stirred as much interest in the GPS market as the iPhone did in the phone market. It may not be due in stores for another six months, but it moved firmly into the spotlight at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, giving visitors their first glimpse of the device. We have the pictures, and an overview of its features.

The nuvifone from Garmin, due out in the third quarter of 2008, may not be on the shelves, but some already call it an iPhone-killer. That may be hype, but it is the first touchscreen device to integrate a mobile phone, premium web browser and personal navigator. It is a quad-band GSM mobile phone with UMTS, which is compatible with the latest in 3.5G networks around the world. Designed for high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), nuvifone supports the highest download speeds offered by 3G mobile networks. The nuvifone also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Is it as navigator…?

‚The nuvifone is a one-of-a-kind device that converges the essential technologies used regularly by mobile individuals – cell phone, personal navigator and web browser,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and COO. “”The GSMA Mobile World Congress trade show is the first opportunity for the public-at-large to see the nuvifone up-close, and we’re confident they will be impressed with what they see.””

Is it a phone …?

The nuvifone’s 3.5-inch touchscreen display greets users with three primary icons – “”Call,”” “”Search,”” and “”View Map”” – and four secondary icons – “”Browser,”” “”SMS””, “”Email”” and “”Tools.”” After selecting the “”Call”” icon, users can dial a number from the on-screen keypad or select a name from the contact list. Because seamless integration is core to the nuvifone’s design, the nuvifone makes it easy to talk on the phone and navigate to a destination at the same time. When the nuvifone is docked onto the vehicle mount, it automatically turns on the GPS, activates the navigation menu, and enables hands-free calling so that the user can continue their conversation and route to their destination with ease.

Is it a browser …?

A quick tap of the “”Search”” icon reveals a page that will look familiar to current nuvi users. Icons such as “”Address””, “”Points of Interest””, and “”Favorites”” are some of the navigation options to choose between. Users may also select “”Google local search”” capability, which harnesses the vast point of interest information on the world wide web. Google local search information includes a web-based rating so that users can choose where to navigate based on the location’s proximity or rating. The nuvifone is Garmin’s first device to incorporate Google local search.

Is it a camera …?

Once a user selects where they want to navigate, the nuvifone gives turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions to the destination. If a turn is missed along the route, nuvifone automatically recalculates a route and gets them back on track. The nuvifone includes preloaded maps of Eastern and Western Europe, North America or both. Nuvifone customers will also have access to free and subscription-based dynamic content via Garmin Online, an online service offering constantly-updating information such as real-time traffic, weather forecasts, and safety camera information.

Is it a PDA with e-mail …?

The nuvifone’s built-in camera has Location Message Service (LMS), which tags every location with the exact latitude and longitude reference of where the image was taken. The user may then save the image so they can navigate back to the location, or email the image to a recipient who can navigate directly to the location. In addition, the nuvifone provides direct access to millions of geo-located landmark and sightseeing photographs available through Google’s Panoramio picture sharing site. The Panoramio photo search feature enhances the enjoyment and adventure of sightseeing in an otherwise unfamiliar location. Other multimedia functions of the nuvifone include a built-in video camera and MP3 player.

Garmin anticipates that the nuvifone will be available in the third quarter of 2008. Specific details about pricing and sales partners will be announced in the future.

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