CeBIT 2006: GPS

Gordon manages to locate TomTom, Garmin, Acer, Mio and Sanyo.

There is a certain irony to getting lost in CeBIT’s massive halls when trying to find manufacturers of GPS products. Thankfully, I managed to track down a lot of them.

My first visit was to a rather decadent TomTom booth. As expected, it was absolutely littered with multiple set ups of its latest Go 510, 710 (below) and 910 models (above). What really stands out amongst the new models are their fantastic 4in touch screens. TomTom raved about this feature when it first announced the line at the beginning of March but I had no idea it would look so good first hand.

Akin to a thin bezel LCD, the facia dominates the device leaving no room for external buttons, something that doesn’t change as you go down the range. The company is certainly promoting much more than just GPS with these devices too, with a representative waxing lyrical to me in a wonderful German Allo! Allo! style accent about the speed camera database, MP3 functionality and text-to-speech reader.

Sadly, all models were in demo modes as this snap of the 510 shows so we’ll still be forced to strap one into our cars and drive as fast as possible around the English motorways in the name of thorough testing. It’s a hard life…

Determined not to let TomTom have everything its own way, however, was Garmin. The venerable old guard of the GPS arena was making a big fuss about its latest C series products and I have to say I was particularly impressed by their screen quality. Neither the C550 (above left) or C510 (above right) have quite the same vast expanses of LCD as the new TomTom’s but their clarity and brightness (being both sunlight readable and antiglare) more than match up.

Like most GPS models on the market these days they come with preloaded but upgradeable maps while the top of the range C550 also has Bluetooth and the ability to play MP3s. Remember when we were just happy when our GPS systems didn’t try to drive us off a bridge?

Cutting similarly sharp paths are the nüvi 360 and 310. Slightly smaller than the C series they sport a slightly different format but are no less feature packed. Designed to be ‘travel companions’, they have jpeg viewers, a travel alarm, currency converter and software packages such as language and travel guides making the need for an actual human companion rather redundant. Both models should be hitting shelves as we speak.

The Destinator was the one stand where I expected to find other companies’ hardware given its focus solely on GPS software. ‘Destinator 6′ is firm’s latest navigation offering so I grabbed a look.

Again, without a solid GPS signal available inside the halls all developers were a little hamstrung in showing off the promises of their products but claims of improved route mapping, real time monitoring of traffic congestion and support for third party add-ins (such as Points of Interest) all sound worthwhile.

An Asus PDA was used for the Destinator 6 software but the company says it is supported by most new models on the market. An April release date and RRP of £99.99 have both been confirmed.

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