CES 2009 didn't dish up any major surprises in the GPS department, but that doesn't mean it was a complete snoozer. A handful of new portable navigation devices were introduced at the show, as well as a number of services for both standalone PNDs and GPS-enabled smartphones.
As expected, we saw a new connected GPS debut, this time from TomTom. While not the first PND to offer an Internet connection, we feel the TomTom GO 740 Live promises the best combination of features and design (compared to the current Dash Express and TeleNav Shotgun offerings) and might just be the one to get people onboard with connected GPS. As a result, we picked it as our Best of CES winner for the GPS category.
Another Best of CES GPS finalist was the Dual XNAV43HD, which is the first PND in the U.S. market to have built-in HD Radio technology. The benefit of HD Radio is that it offers more bandwidth, allowing you to receive more information about traffic and beyond, such as gas prices and weather information. The technology has been available in European GPS units, but we suspect we'll be seeing more of it in the United States this year.
Mio Technology started the year fresh with four new Moov models and revamped navigation software. Meanwhile, Garmin introduced the Garmin Nuvi 885T and the bike-specific Garmin Zumo 660. The company also announced its nuMaps Lifetime Map Update Program, and a new routing option called Garmin EcoRoute to help drivers save money and fuel. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Garmin Nuvifone, but Pharos revealed its latest GPS-enabled smartphone, the Pharos Traveler 137.
So what does 2009 have in store for GPS? More content-driven services, such as real-time traffic, weather information, gas prices, and so forth. And while we believe standalone PNDs will continue to have their place in the market, the increasing availability and adoption of GPS-enabled cell phones, smartphones, and location-based services should not be underestimated.