PalmOne preps Bluetooth GPS bundle

Sat Nav market explodes

PalmOne Europe has continued its push into the emerging market for PDA-based satellite navigation systems with two new bundles.

PalmOne launched its first GPS package earlier this year, pairing its Tungsten E PDA with a wired GPS receiver. The first follow-up takes the same approach, combining a colour Zire 31 device with ViaMichelin's own bundle, which ViaMichelin's maps and MapSonic software, and a Kirrio GPS antenna. A dashboard mounting kits and an in-car power connector are included too.

MapSonic provides the usual route-planning with spoken directions, 2D and 3D maps in both night and day colour schemes, and nearby places of interest alerts. The software also ties into PalmOne's own PIM apps, to use contacts' addresses as route-plan destinations.

The low-priced £249 inc. VAT bundle provides region-specific maps including a variety of pre-loaded POIs. Extra POI data can be downloaded from ViaMichelin's web site, some of it for a fee, such as the €40 Michelin Green Guide. Alas, the bundle lacks the latest speed camera maps, though this can be downloaded free of charge, PalmOne said.

Upcoming legislation may render the sale of speed-camera information unlawful, so ViaMichelin is playing it safe, we understand.

The bundle also lacks a memory card on which to store map data beyond the route-specific information that can be transferred to the PDA's main memory. The second bundle, pairing the ViaMichelin package with a Zire 72 and a Bluetooth GPS antenna, includes the software and local maps on a 128MB SD card.

Around 1m GPS receivers are expected to ship this year, up from 200,000 in 2002 and 100,000 in 2000, with the UK lying in second place behind Germany as the European nation most actively buying GPS solutions. In third place is the Netherlands. All three territories are actively targeted by Germany's Medion, which pretty much created the low-cost PDA-based GPS market.

The Zire 72-based package should retail for around £349 inc. VAT. Both bundles will be shipping shortly, with the Zire 72 product likely to hit the market first. ®

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