The latest generation of Garmin GPS devices being unveiled next week at CES show three distinct characteristics: first a logical progression to speech recognition, then a clearly strong partnership with Microsoft, and finally a sense that smaller isn’t always better.
The Garmin n¼vi 800 Series models are the new kings of the field. They build on everything that made the nuvi series the best and feature MSN Direct for trip planning and point of interest content, hands-free cell phone capability and brand new speech recognition technology that — finally — gives the driver a safer option to input on-the-fly courses and changes.
“Now it’s possible to keep both hands on the wheel, tell n¼vi what to do and where to go, and you’re on your way to stress-free travel,” said Dan Bartel, vice president of sales for Garmin.
MSN Direct is an Internet-based pay service ($49.95/year) that feeds the GPS info like traffic, fuel prices, news and business headlines on demand.
The 800 series also boasts a 4.3″ color touchscreen display at 480×272 pixels that shows up clearly in bright sunlight. It also plays MP3, OGG and Flac audio and Audible.com audio books.
Look for a Q2 release date. The 880 will run with an MSRP of $1071, while a slightly downgraded 850 is hitting stores at $857, Garmin said.
“The nuvi 5000 is ideal for those with larger vehicles that need navigation on a big screen” Bartel said.
The 5000 has most of the common Garmin features and gives the user the option of MSN Direct for traffic or analog FM traffic advice.
The unit can also receive video from any line source, making it a mini-van-friendly accessory. Fire up the DVD for the kids until you get lost, then it’s back to GPS mode. The 5000 does not do speech recognition, however.
The nuvi 5000 will be out next month at suggested retail price of $857.
“Runners no longer have to choose between fashion and function,” Bartel said.
The 405 uses ANT+Sport personal area network technology to transfer data from the watch to your computer when you’re close enough. It lets you keep track of you workouts, and will run you about 300 bucks when it comes out this quarter.
Garmin is also putting out a nuvi 780 with a wide display and a more affordable nuvi 260W.
So there. If you ever get lost again, don’t blame me.