August 28, 2008 Sony announced four new nav-u personal navigation devices this week but it’s the top-of-the-range NV-U94T model that caught our eye as it adds new features such as a photo viewer, audio/video player and stereo Bluetooth technology for streaming audio and making hands-free phone calls using compatible devices. In terms of what it was built for, the NV-U94T offers a unique, hardware-based solution that consists of an acceleration sensor, a pressure sensor and a gyro sensor that together can calculate the vehicle’s current position based on the last known GPS location. The result is a more consistent and accurate position that helps provide interruption-free guidance when tall buildings or dense foliage obscure satellite reception or when it’s blocked altogether when underground.
The new photo viewer feature turns the screen into a picture frame for travellers who want a portable multi-function device that also displays pics of loved ones, and plays back still images individually, in slideshow mode or via thumbnails. Camera owners can view their digital images by inserting a Sony Memory Stick into the Memory Stick Pro Duo slot, and offer a painless way to view images shot on Cyber-shot cameras. The NV-U94T model also can play MP3 and non-DRM AAC music files and MPEG-4 video files from Memory Stick PRO Duo media. Sony has incorporated stereo Bluetooth technology (A2DP profile) into the device. Audio can be streamed wirelessly from the nav-u device to a compatible Bluetooth-enabled car stereo system, including Sony’s Xplod MEX-BT2600 and MEX-BT5100 head units. Stereo Bluetooth maintains high-quality sound while streaming music.
Hands-free calling is also supported. With a built-in microphone, drivers can use voice commands to initiate calls via compatible Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. Drivers can transfer their phone’s address book over to the NV-U94T, which makes dialing a contact easier and safer. The phone dialing function is also linked to the points of interest (POI) database, enabling the user to search for a POI, such as a restaurant, and then call ahead for information.
For drivers who want a larger screen and all the top-end features, the NV-U94T model has a 4.8 inch (measured diagonally) 16:9 aspect ratio display. In addition to the entertainment features, it also includes the super suction cup mounting system, dual view 3D junction guide and POSITION plus.
Stay on Course, Even Underground
The GPS satellites broadcast signals can easily be distorted by tall buildings, very dense foliage, or blocked altogether when underground. When this happens, GPS devices can easily give a false location. Sony developed POSITION plus to address the issue.
POSITION plus is a unique, hardware-based solution that consists of an acceleration sensor, a pressure sensor and a gyro sensor that together can calculate the vehicle’s current position based on the last known GPS location. The result is a more consistent and accurate position that helps provide interruption-free guidance under the most difficult of GPS reception conditions.
Gesture command comes with all new nav-u devices and lets users jump to commands with one touch on the display. The new gesture command feature for forwarding photos lets users advance to the next picture, music track or video clip with a swipe of the finger from left to right across the screen. Other gesture commands include take me home, zoom in or out and call home.
Quickly Search Favorite Locations
One of the top benefits of owning a GPS system is the ability to find points of interest in unfamiliar areas. The new nav-u models feature a revised search algorithm for quicker POI searches. They also come with Quick Link, a new search feature with that enables a true “one touch” search for your favorite POI with the touch of a button.
Drivers can save any search string they like to one of their Quick Link buttons for one-touch searching. For example, if the drivers’ favorite stores are Sony Style retail locations, they can save the term “Sony Style” to a Quick Link button and perform that search any number of times without having to retype the search string.
Brand icons help users quickly and easily identify their favorite restaurants, hotels, gas stations, stores and other locations while traveling through unfamiliar cities. Sony’s new nav-u devices now have 30 percent more brand icons than last season’s models (more than 150 brands), Users will automatically see brand icons appear on a map.
During address searches, the new nav-u systems can automatically complete partial entries of states, cities and street names. They come with nearly 5 million POIs and U.S. and Canadian maps, including Alaska, Canada, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, pre-installed on their flash memory.
RDS-TMC real-time traffic receiver
The NV-U94T device’s cradle has a built-in RDS-TMC real-time traffic receiver. With RDS-TMC real-time traffic functionality, the NV-U94T can notify drivers in available coverage areas of up-to-date traffic conditions. The devices can automatically display the estimated number of minutes delay and if desired, can automatically reroute the driver around the incident. nav-u device owners will receive the first 90 days of real-time traffic free of charge. For continued traffic service, a subscription can cost as little as a few dollars per month after the initial trial period.
Smaller, Greener Packaging
In line with Sony’s environmental efforts, the NV-U74T, NV-U84 and NV-U94T models’ outer shells are made with 50 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Certain other components, such as Sony’s unique super suction cup and the flip-out GPS antenna, are made using at least 45 percent post-consumer recycled material.
Pre-orders for the NV-U94T nav-u personal navigation device are now being accepted on the Sonystyle web site. The NV-U94T will be available in September for about US$400.