Many modern outdoors folk are conflicted beings that live by diametrically opposed principles. On the one hand, they spend top dollar for the newest, lightest gear on the market to keep their muscles and joints moving freely. On the other, they fill up their featherlight packs and jackets with all kinds of single-function, redundant or just plain unnecessary devices in the name of being "prepared." An ultralight cuben fiber pack doesn't help you save weight if it's stuffed with a bunch of heavy, unneeded devices.
Getting more function out of a single device is the quickest way to make these folks whole. The tw700 from German company Tak Wak blends several of your most important outdoor devices - GPS, walkie talkie, camera and tracking system - into one rugged, waterproof, trail-ready package.
I suppose you could get all those functions out of a smartphone equipped with a couple of apps, but then again, the Tak Wak is an Android 2.2-powered smartphone with 3.5-inch touchscreen in itself. It's just built more purposely for multifunctional outdoor use than other phones.
As a GPS, the Tak Wak offers off-road navigation via 100 x 70-km topographic map tiles and road navigation via free Open Streets Maps. It comes with street maps of places like Northern Italy and the U.K. preloaded on a micro-SD card and includes a voucher for a free topographic map tile. Additional topo maps are available for purchase. Users can also plan and download routes through Tak Wak's website and use those as GPX tracks.
The tw700 offers two nice functions for groups. The walkie talkie function with fold-out antenna provides free radio communications via eight channels and 38 sub-channels. When your cellular bars disappear, you'll be able to keep in touch with your group via radio. The walkie talkie function works at distances up to 10 kilometers (6 miles).
Also good for groups, the group tracking function works in conjunction with the GPS to display the position of the members of your group. This could be very helpful for meeting up and locating or rescuing fellow hikers.
In addition to those functions, the tw700 also has a 5-megapixel camera. If you rolled a satellite rescue beacon and weather radio into this device, you'd have every type of outdoor communications gadget that you could possibly need.
The tw700 won an ISPO Brand New Award and will make its debut at the show next year. It will hit the German market in spring 2012 with a suggested retail of EUR549, which equates to about US$725. A U.K. launch will follow in the summer.