Getting a jump start on CES 2009, location-based provider Pharos officially introduced on Tuesday the Pharos Traveler 137 smartphone, a Windows Mobile 6.1-based handset with integrated GPS and navigation software. The unlocked, quad-band GSM phone will be available late in the first quarter for $599.95 and has been awarded a 2009 CES Innovation award for its navigation solution.
The Pharos Traveler 137 differentiates itself from other GPS-enabled smartphones in that it doesn't require a cellular connection to operate as a navigation device. The unit comes preloaded with Pharos' Smart Navigator software with the vector map and routing calculations, so you'll be able to view maps, create routes, and get turn-by-turn directions without a network signal. Other features of the Smart Navigator service include real-time traffic, points-of-interest search, and a feature called Follow Me, which lets friends and family view your GPS locations via the Internet or a Windows Mobile device.
There is a fee to use the Smart Navigator service on a pay-as-you-go basis: $1.99/one day of access, $4.99/one week of access, $6.99/one month of access, or $49.99/one year of access. The Traveler 137 will initially come preloaded with maps of the United States free of charge, and you'll be able to purchase maps for Canada, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. China, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and other country maps will eventually be added as well. If you choose not to go with the Smart Navigator service, you will be able to use the smartphone's Windows Live Search application to get maps and directions, though this will require a cell phone or Wi-Fi connection.
Navigation aside, the Pharos Traveler 137 is a pretty full-featured Windows Mobile smartphone. It offers Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and tri-band 3G support (1700/1900/2100MHz). Note that the 3G compatibility is with T-Mobile and not with the AT&T 3G network, which runs on the 850/1900MHz bands. The handset also has a 3-megapixel camera; a 3.5-inch, VGA (480x800 pixel resolution) touch screen; 256MB DDR SDRAM/512MB Flash ROM, and a microSD/SDHC expansion slot.
In addition to the Traveler 137, Pharos also announced on the Tuesday the retail availability of three previously announced GPS-enabled smartphones: the Traveler 117 ($529.95), Traveler 127 ($529.95), and the Traveler 619 ($199.95).