updated 01:05 am EST, Fri January 4, 2008
Garmin vehicle GPS systems
Garmin today unveiled three different Nuvi vehicle GPS systems, including one model that can use voice recognition to navigate the device's interface. The 260W uses a sunlight-readable 4.3-inch wide touchscreen LCD to display information, and can speak street names. A trademark of the 260 series GPS units is the internal antenna that allows for a thinner design, while its rectangular shape is easy to mount in a vehicle. Garmin's "Where To?" and "View Map" welcome screens are built-in to the device, providing users with the ability to search for a specific street address or establishment; destinations can also be located by category. Although pricing and availability information were not readily available, Garmin said that they will show the new units at CES 2008.
The Nuvi 260W also has a built-in picture viewer, with a calculator, currency converter, unit converter, and a world clock also included. Garmin's line of rich content, such as the Garmin Travel Guide and Garmin Language Guide, are compatible with the 260W. The company has also implemented its Garmin Lock technology, which locks the unit until the user types in a four-digit pass code, or takes the device to a pre-determined secure location.
Garmin also introduced the Nuvi 780, the highest available model currently in its 700 series. Dynamic content updates are downloaded from the MSN Direct network, giving the user access to traffic conditions, fuel prices, and weather reports. Movie listings, news and local events, stocks, as well as a "Send to GPS" function are also available on MSN Direct. Each 780 includes three months of access to the MSN Direct network, with additional service available at $50 per year, or a one-time payment of $130 for lifetime access.
The 780 can be removed from its mount, and it will remember the location where it was last taken from, allowing users to find their car in an unfamiliar or vast location. It will also display nearby emergency services, gas stations, and intersections, as well as exact latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. Detailed City Navigator NT roadmaps of the entire US, Canada, and Puerto Rico are built in to the unit.
Lastly, Garmin's flagship Nuvi 880 - which uses the same design as the 780 - includes speech recognition, which can be used to control the device or obtain information from the MSN Direct service. By using a push-to-talk wireless remote on their steering wheel, users can speak to the unit without losing the use of either hand, and no additional training or setup is required. The 880 uses a common vocabulary, in most cases the user just says the desired function as it appears on the screen. It can still respond to abstract requests, such as finding an Italian or Mexican restaurant; the unit will also respond to large business brands, such as Starbucks.
The Nuvi 880 uses Bluetooth, and can provide hands-free calling when used with a compatible phone. The speech recognition can dial phone numbers from a user's phonebook, or the Nuvi Points of Interest database, giving access to hotels, restaurants, stores, and other businesses.
A built-in FM transmitter enables the unit to give directions and street names, as well as MP3s and Audible.com content through the car stereo. The Nuvi 880 also has two incorporated front-firing speakers, and uses a removable lithium-ion battery to power it when not attached to the car.
Garmin nuvi 880 (left) Nuvi 260W (right)