Turn Your Phone into a Navigation Device
Devices and applications highlighted at the CTIA Wireless Convention in San Diego may render your car's navigation system obsolete.
Now, by simply going to iTunes and downloading an app, you can turn your mobile phone into a full-on navigation device. Are dedicated nav devices going the way of the beeper/pager?
We got a chance to see some of the devices and applications that premiered at the CTIA Wireless Convention in San Diego by attending the Mobile Focus press event on Wednesday. CTIA is a nonprofit organization that represents the wireless industry. MobileFocus was sort of a mini Consumer Electronics Show that offered an update on some cool new electronics that might make driving more efficient. Here are some highlights of what we saw.
Telenav allows you to add a full navigation application to your current phone. The company just added T-Mobile, Sprint and Samsung models to the Apple iPhone in its compatible parts list. Telenav currently works on 600 phones worldwide, and it's adding more all the time. The system includes real-time traffic, turn-by-turn navigation just like a nav device, and a directory of 10 million points of interest. Get a free 30-day trial at www.telenav.com and pay just $9.99 a month after that. Best deal of the show, if you ask us.
Garmin has a new partnership with AT&T that has resulted in the 3G NuviFone, a combination mobile phone and nav device. It integrates voice, data and mobile Web applications with e-mail, texting, a 3-megapixel camera and even geotagging addresses. Nav functions include local search and spoken turn-by-turn directions. It's the all-in-one app the world has been waiting for, a Garmin spokesperson told us. It is hitting stores this week for $299. See www.garmin.com.
TomTom offers a hookup with the iPhone 3G/3GS through the iTunes App store that turns your phone into a navigation device. See www.tomtom.com.
Here's another downloadable app for four-wheelers. When you run out of pavement, most nav devices run out of map. Not the case with AccuTerra for the iPhone. AccuTerra adds highly detailed topographical maps as well as photos of select locations to your app-happy Apple iPhone. You download it for 99 cents and then pay just $1.99 per USGS 7.5-foot topographical quad, less than half of what a topo costs at an outdoor gear store. Hikers will like it, too. See www.telenav.com.
Old Navs Are New Again
There are still plenty of old-school navigation devices out there. They generally have bigger screens than those found on mobile phones for easier viewing while on the road. So maybe they still have some life left in them.
TomTom is offering three months of free connectivity to draw buyers to its new 340 Live nav device, which brings live traffic, weather, fuel prices and an ever-increasing number of speed-camera locations to its 4.3-inch screen for just $299. Connectivity is $9.99 a month after that.
TomTom's XXL may be over named since it offers only a slight increase in size with a 5-inch screen — still much bigger than a cell phone screen, but no connectivity — for $249.95.
A few tables down was the Magellan RoadMate 1700, which blows away the 5-inch TomTom XXL with a whopping 7-inch screen, the Jumbotron of nav devices. The 1700 includes AAA TourBook, Highway Lane Assist for easier transitions and QuickSpell to help you find what you're looking for on the QWERTY keyboard. It's $299 plus a monthly AAA service fee. See www.magellanGPS.com to learn more.
The Garmin Nuvi 1690 comes with two years of free connectivity for all of the usual great live data for $499. Doing the math, that's about the same as the TomTom 340 after two years of ownership.
To charge all those of devices, we liked the Pure Energy inductive charging pads. We've seen similar technology at CES in years past. Pure Energy is still working on specific automotive applications and is expecting to have some ready by the time CES rolls around in January. The small charging pads the company demonstrated measures about the size of a birthday card and, paired with an inductive backing on your mobile phone or Blackberry, means you could recharge your device by just setting it down on the mat.
By that point we were fully loaded and needed to recharge. CES is just four months away!