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CES: GPS satnav devices get smarter

PNDs are a big hit this year

GPS devices are generating a lot interest at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, with established businesses introducing increasingly sophisticated navigation systems while newcomers try to get a foot in the door.

New personal navigation devices (PNDs) are adding features ranging from real-time information feeds (such as data on petrol prices at nearby stations) to 3D maps (Tele Atlas technology in Mio Technology's C620) to speech recognition for hands-free operation (Garmin's Nuvi 880). Newcomers abound, and a couple of prototype systems integrate support for hands-free phone calls.

Click here for reviews of the latest GPS/satnav hardware and software.

See our CES 2008 Blog for more news from the Consumer Electronics Show

Where we're headed

GPS giant Garmin brought a range of new and updated navigation products to CES, including the not-yet-released Nuvi 880, whose sophisticated speech recognition technology permits completely handsfree operation.

The Nuvi 880 and the Nuvi 780 (which doesn't support handsfree operation) models are among several navigation systems that give users the option of augmenting the usual maps, directions, and point-of-interest data with real-time downloadable traffic alerts, news, stock quotes, movie listings, and gas prices from Microsoft Direct.

The service will integrate with Windows Live, too, so you can upload travel plans and destinations to your PND, without having to type them in to the device. Hewlett-Packard offers users of its iPaq Travel Companions a similar service through its new iPaq Navigate Web site, which also has community features and reviews.

TomTom, another popular PND maker, announced that it has added fuel prices to its companion TomTom Plus traffic and data service.

Dash, which last month began accepting pre-release orders for its internet-connected GPS, has a big presence at the show. The company touts its devices as delivering the benefits of two-way communications: you get traffic and other information, and at the same time your device (anonymously) sends Dash information about your location and driving speed, which the service intends to use to generate better real-time traffic updates - once a critical mass of users is reached.

Go to Mobile Advisor for reviews and news about technology on the move.

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