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The Garmin nuvi is your handheld travelling companion

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September 12, 2005

The Garmin nuvi is your handheld travelling companion

The Garmin nuvi is your handheld travelling companion

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September 13, 2005 The Garmin nuvi is a Personal Digital Travel Assistant that combines a GPS navigator, language translator and travel guide capability, an MP3 player, an audio book player, a currency and measurement converter, a world clock, and a digital photo organizer -- all in one device the size of a pack of cards . One day, no doubt all the functionality we could ever wish for will be available in one device, but until then, companies such as Garmin will continue to recognise market opportunities for suites of functionality that are very compelling to a thin, vertical market – in this case travellers.

"The nuvi represents the pinnacle in integrated consumer electronics for travelers," said Gary Kelley, Garmin's vice president of marketing. "With its amazing array of features, the nuvi makes traveling easier and more enjoyable."

Like Garmin's latest generation of navigation devices, the nuvi's introductory screen lists two familiar options: "Where to?" and "View map," which offer the user Garmin's very popular and easy-to-use GPS navigation functions. A third option on the title page -- named "Travel Kit" -- contains the functions that distinguish the nuvi as a seasoned travel companion.

Inside the Travel Kit, users can access the optional Garmin Language Guide, with data provided by Oxford University Press. This software suite contains a multilingual word bank, phrase bank, and five bilingual dictionaries. The multilingual word bank and phrase bank supports nine languages and dialects including American English, British English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, European Spanish, and Latin American Spanish.

The Language Guide lets travelers look up and translate more than 17,000 words or 20,000 phrases per language. Through the unit's text-to-speech interface, users can get a spoken pronunciation of each entry in the word bank -- along with gender and part of speech information. The multilingual phrase bank is categorized by activity for ease of use.

The Travel Kit will also support the new Garmin Travel Guide SD data cards. With information provided by Marco Polo -- one of Europe's leading travel authorities -- these guides put in-depth travel information at the user's fingertips -- helpful reviews and recommendations for restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife, sporting events, and tourist attractions.

"With the nuvi, travelers can make the most of a business trip or vacation," said Kelley. "Users can browse restaurant menus and reviews in the Garmin Travel Guide for a highly-recommended French bistro, and then use the nuvi's navigation capabilities to find the restaurant. Once they're seated, they can even use the Garmin Language Guide to order their meal in the native tongue."

Both the Garmin Language Guide and Garmin Travel Guide are available separately on SD data cards. Once the Garmin Language Guide is installed, users can remove the card to free up the SD slot for other purposes, such as the Garmin Travel Guide.

To pass the time on those long trips, the nuvi comes equipped with an Audio Book Player, with content provided by Audible.com -- featuring more than 70,000 hours of audio programs from more than 200 content partners. The nuvi also features an MP3 player that lets users browse music by artist, album, song, or genre -- as well as the ability to build playlists. Loading music onto an SD card is "drag-and-drop" easy -- no special software is required. Sample MP3s from AudioLunchBox.com are pre-loaded onto the unit.

Additionally, the nuvi offers a Picture Viewer for displaying digital photos, a World Travel Clock, Currency and Measurement Converter, and Calculator.

Approximately the size of a deck of playing cards, the svelte and stylish nuvi hosts a sunlight-readable 3.5-inch (diagonal) colour touch screen display with a recessed power button, SD card slot, mini-USB jack, and headphone output. The flush flip-up GPS antenna houses an external antenna jack, and the unit's speaker is mounted within the unit - making the nuvi easy to carry in a jacket pocket, attache, or carry-on.

The nuvi has a battery life of four to eight hours, depending on backlight settings and GPS or application usage. The unit can be charged via the included AC power adapter, 12-volt power cable with suction-mount automotive cradle, or the PC/USB interface cable connected to a computer. Equipped with a new high-sensitivity GPS receiver, the nuvi is capable of maintaining a signal in heavy foliage or "urban canyons" created by city skyscrapers.

Travelers can use the nuvi to navigate to an address or search points of interest (POIs) -- places like hotels, restaurants, shopping, and tourist attractions. The nuvi automatically calculates the fastest route and provides voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions along the way. Thanks to the nuvi's text-to-speech functionality, the unit audibly announces the name of upcoming streets -- letting drivers keep their eyes on the road while navigating through busy traffic and tricky roadways. If users stray off course, the device automatically calculates the quickest way to get back on track.

In Europe, customers can purchase one of eight regional map coverage areas (the nuvi 300), or opt for full European mapping (the nuvi 350). North American versions include pre-loaded maps of the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

The European version of the nuvi is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2005. The nuvi is sold with a suction cup mount and 12-volt adapter, AC power cable, PC/USB cable, owner's manual, and quick reference guide. The Garmin Language Guide and the Garmin Travel Guide are sold separately.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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