AT&T and Garmin on Tuesday announced the Garmin nuvifone G60, a smartphone that will marry the GPS navigation expertise of Garmin and the voice, data and mobile Web of a traditional smartphone.
The Asus-made nuvifone G60 has the same core features as a high-end Garmin nuvi GPS navigation device. It comes preloaded with maps and points of interest for North America, and the device comes with a dashboard and windshield mount.
But the real sweet spot for the device is turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions that adjust to changes as necessary.
The nuvifone also has a "Where am I?" feature that tells you your exact latitude and longitude coordinates, nearest address, intersection, hospital, police station and gas station. It's can also mark where it was last detached from the windshield mount, in case you lose sight of your car in a parking lot.
Otherwise, the 3G/HSDPA 3.55-in. resistive touchscreen nuvifone has a full HTML Webkit browser, virtual keyboard and a three megapixel camera with auto-focus and geotagging (naturally). It manages quad-band GSM/GPRS/Edge connectivity as well as 802.11 b/g WLAN and Bluetooth.
It's got 4GB of onboard storage as well as microSD expandable to 16GB. The audio jack is a non-standard 2.5mm size -- unacceptable at this point -- but the phone does support POP3/IMAP4/SMTP, Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar and document viewing for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and JPG.
It's been a long road to this point. The nuvifone has been rumored for quite awhile, and has been available in Asia for some time. The device has finally emerged, but it comes at a steep price: $299.
That's $100 more than an Apple iPhone 3G S, which is far more versatile a touchscreen device on AT&T that also happens to offer several GPS navigation apps from Garmin's competitors, including TomTom and Navigon, that cost (at most) $99.
It seems, in the long slog to get the device to market, the nuvifone nearly made itself obsolete.
For sure, the device will appeal to people who don't go anywhere without their GPS. But I question the sense in signing a two-year contract with AT&T for a device that combines the talents of two, but falls short of smartphone competition.
The nuvifone G60 will be available in AT&T stores or online on October 4 for $299 with a two year service agreement after $100 mail-in-rebate.
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