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Personal navigation started off as an add-on for a PDA, but it was only when the standalone versions began to offer a more dependable experience that the idea took off with mainstream consumers. So it's perhaps surprising to see that attention seems to be veering back in the opposite direction, although this time towards smartphones. You can even get Google Maps Navigation for free on an Android phone. For those who don't want to compromise on capabilities and stability, however, Garmin has partnered with Asus to create a more deliberate blend of smartphone and standalone, called the nuvifone M10.
The M10 is based on Windows Mobile 6.5.3, and looks at first glance like a relatively standard touchscreen smartphone. It's neither tubby nor super-slim, and has a 5-megapixel camera on the back but no flash. However, the sat-nav abilities become evident right from the home screen. Beneath the grid of nine app icons, two of the three static icons provide access to sat-nav functions. Strangely, the other one is the Call button, which takes you to the regular phone features, but there's already a permanent button for this beneath the touchscreen, so it seems rather superfluous.
The first sat-nav button is called Search, and leads to a familiar array of destination-finding options. You can look up an address by postcode or by drilling down from city to street and house number. But it's also possible to search for keywords across all towns in your currently chosen country. Alternatively, there's a traditional Points of Interest (POI) database, which is divided into categories and can be used to search near your current location, your current road, your destination if you have a route set, or any town or point on the map. Like the address database, you can search by keyword as well as across all the aforementioned locations, but not an entire country.
If the regular POI database doesn't have what you're after, Google Local Search is also available. Results do extend across an entire country in this case, and are listed in order of relevance rather than just closeness. You will of course need an active mobile data connection or Wi-Fi to use Google Local Search. Another mobile data-enabled Search option is the link to the Panoramio photo-sharing website, which lists photos by proximity to your current location. It's not something you would use that often, but could be fun. A more prosaic smartphone-enabled facility is the connection to the phone's stored contacts, which can be searched for a destination. You can save any destinations you find as the Home location or to the list of Favourites. But even if you don't, you'll discover them in the Recent Finds section.
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