IFA 2008: Garmin NuviPhone Release & Sat Navs Updated

All the latest from the GPS giant.

Heading on over to the Garmin stand you’d think – despite the presence of around 30 mounted GPS units – there was only one device the company made… and you can make calls on it.

Yes, the Nuviphone was by far and away the main focus of the Garmin stand even if only three prototype models were present and each was locked behind glass with access denied to all (I tried!).

So while I can’t give you my first hands on impressions of the much anticipated model I can confirm each was a working device not a mock-up and in the flesh/plastic it is an attractive handset with virtually the same footprint as the iPhone.

More importantly, following the nuviphone’s delay into 2009, I was able to ascertain that the new target is April. Company reps blamed network carrier demands and glitches which need to be smoothed out in the OS (the reason why no-one was allowed to use it) for the hold ups, but did say carriers have been falling over themselves to compete for the phone suggesting it should eventually go on sale subsidised.

More worrying however was talk from Garmin that it plans to mimic the iPhone’s approach and pick only one exclusive network for each country which may lead to en-mass hacking attempts by disgruntled buyers. Either way, expect there to be a lot more twists and turns to this tale before launch…

Back on core ground there were a pair of new GPS in-car units being shown off too, the’T705TFM’ and ‘500 Allround Series’.

The former is a decked out high end product with a 4.3in touchscreen, global mapping and multimedia centric features like MP3 playback, an integrated FM tuner and Bluetooth with A2DP for wireless music streaming. It is also a slim model and weighs only 185g – little more than the biggest smartphones.

As for the 500, this will be a midrange line with 3.5in displays which will match its more expensive brother minus its multimedia ambitions.

No official pricing or release schedules were listed but I managed to learn they’ll be here within the next four to six weeks. Shame we can’t say the same about that tantalising handset…

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