updated 09:50 am EST, Wed January 7, 2009
Garmin at CES 2009
Garmin chose Wednesday to reveal its full slate for CES and led off with a new top-end model for its nuvi GPS units. The 4.3-inch widescreen navigator updates the 880 with a lane assist mode that also includes a junction view: drivers are not only told which lane to use for the next change but also shown the layout to properly follow through the next exit or intersection. It further brings an upgraded set of MSN Direct data services and now lets owners check their airport flight status as well as more detailed weather with Doppler maps, better movie listings, local events and the option of sending maps and routes from a computer.
The 885T continues to carry the best features of Garmin's lineup and provides voice-activated commands, Bluetooth for hands-free calling, FM to send audio through the car stereo and traffic updates. It comes preloaded with maps of North America and Puerto Rico and should be available before the end of March for $800. A slightly lower-end model, the 855, drops Bluetooth and MSN Direct to reduce the price to $700. MSN Direct costs $50 per year to use or $130 for lifetime access.
Simultaneously, Garmin has also stepped up competition against rivals such as NAVIGON by offering nuMaps Lifetime, a new feature that lets users pay once for unlimited quarterly map updates rather than requiring a yearly pay-in. Garmin warns that the option applies only to the user's existing GPS unit and will stop if the company stops providing new maps for that model.
The option starts at $120 for perpetually upgraded maps of North American and scales up to $140 for a Europe-only version and $150 for a world-friendly transatlantic update. One-time map purchases continue on and cost $70 each.
Garmin has also launched the zumo 660, a 4.3-inch GPS device for motorcycles which is ruggedized and supports both the lane and junction views as well as Bluetooth, topological maps for off-roading and an interface designed to be used with biker gloves. It too comes with North American and Puerto Rican maps and is due in the same launch window as the nuvi updates at an $800 price tag.
A final entry, the Approach G5, is explicitly tailored to golfers: the 3-inch touchscreen device lets players either preview courses or get their live positions to help navigate to the next green. It can also make club recommendations based on distance to the hole and can keep score for as many as four players. Garmin preloads the device with "thousands" of courses and doesn't require a subscription to keep the G5 up to date. The AA battery-powered receiver hasn't yet received a price or ship date.