updated 02:35 am EST, Fri January 4, 2008
New Garmin GPS systems
Garmin recently unveiled its Colorado series of handheld GPS units, and the Forerunner 405 wrist-worn GPS device, as well as the super-sized Nuvi 5000 for use in large vehicles. The Colorado 400t uses a 3-inch color screen to display three-dimensional topographic maps, and is pre-loaded with a complete map covering the US. Tracks, waypoints, and geocaches can be wirelessly transferred with other units, and the device's "Rock n Roller" thumbwheel makes the device easy to navigate. Garmin will show the new lineup at CES 2008, and although a release date was not mentioned, the Colorado 400 series devices sell for $600.
Also in the 400 series is the Colorado 400i, which gives anglers details about depth contours and boat ramps for US inland lakes, as well as navigable rivers. The 400c provides coastal information for the US and the Bahamas. Garmin also unveiled the Colorado 300, which displays a worldwide basemap with a shaded relief; the unit sells for $500.
Garmin's new handhelds will be the first to use Groundspeak's Wherigo service, which is a toolset for creating and playing back geocache information.Wherigo authors can construct tours or other innovative activities for users of the Wherigo Player application. This allows users to visit real world locations, while using virtual items and interact with virtual characters to solve puzzles.
The Colorado series of GPS devices weigh 7.3 ounces, and draw 15 hours of battery life from two AA batteries. Up to five customizable profiles are available for users to modify: automotive, marine, recreation, fitness, and paperless geocaching.
The Garmin Forerunner 405 is worn like a watch, and is designed to allow joggers to track speed, distance, heart rate, and location statistics. A touch-operated bezel is used to begin workouts, access training history, or challenging a virtual partner. Users activate different commands by either tapping, holding, or dragging their finger across the device.
The Forerunner 405 is water resistant, and uses a high-sensitivity GPS receiver to maintain proper satellite reception in the city or other outdoor environments.
When the heart rate monitor is used, it helps athletes find their optimal range of effort for exercise; an optional speed/cadence bike sensor displays pedal cadence and wheel speed. Using ANT+Sport technology, the Forerunner 405 can wirelessly transfer workout data to a computer for automatic syncing. Once uploaded, the data can be shared with others, and can be used with Garmin Connect - Garmin's online fitness community. The Forerunner 405 will be available for $300.
Lastly, the Nuvi 5000 offers users a 5.2-inch touchscreen display, which is ideal for large vehicles where visibility of a smaller screen may be an issue. Voice-prompted, turn-by-turn directions are provided, with automatic rerouting should a user stray from the designated path. The device can also create alternate routes if drivers wish to avoid a certain area, and add custom points of interest for things like school zones or safety cameras.
Up to 10 routes can be saved to the unit, with automatic sorting of routes to provide users with the most efficient path for errands or deliveries. Drivers can also keep track of where they have been using the track log feature, which displays an electronic breadcrumb trail showing the previously driven route. Users can pre-plan trips using Microsoft Local Live on their computer, and send the plans to their Nuvi 5000.
Like other high-end Nuvi products, the Nuvi 5000 can make use of MSN Direct, granting users access to a wealth of traffic, weather, and news related information. The service requires a yearly fee to be paid of $50, while users interested in lifetime access can do so for $130.
An SD card reader allows users to play MP3 files and Audible spoken content, while an external video connector can be used to display video from an external source, such as a back-up camera. The Nuvi 5000 comes with several games, with more games available for download in the future from Garmin's game site.
Garmin will sell the Nuvi 5000 GPS unit for $800, and will be available in February.
Garmin's Colorado 400i (left), Nuvi 5000 (center), and Forerunner 405 (right)