Well, here's something new. We've seen smart phone manufacturers integrate GPS into their devices (such as the HP iPaq hw6945 Mobile Messenger), but we haven't really seen GPS companies produce any nav-savvy phones--until now. Today, navigation specialist Pharos announced its Pharos GPS Phone, a Windows Mobile-based smart phone that comes preloaded with maps of the United States and Canada and an integrated SiRFStarIII GPS receiver. The palm-size device supports voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, multidestination trips, automatic rerouting, and other standard navigation features. In addition, you get a free three-month subscription to Pharos's Smart Navigator Web-based location services, which include traffic updates, local searches, and the like; to continue the service after the complimentary period, you'll have to pay $7 per month, $18 for three months, or $66 for a year.
The fun doesn't stop there, though. Turns out the GPS Phone is well-stacked in other departments, too, with integrated Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), a 2-megapixel camera, a speakerphone, a 2.8-inch touch screen, multimedia capabilities, and the full Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition. The quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS; EDGE) Pharos GPS Phone is available unlocked so that you can slip in your Cingular or T-Mobile SIM card to start making calls.
It all sounds fabulous, right? Not so fast. We have a couple of concerns. First, our jaws dropped when we saw the $699.95 price tag. Sure, we understand that you get the GPS, phone, and PDA capabilities in one device, but even the similarly equipped HP iPaq hw6925 is $100 cheaper. Also, we were frustrated by the unintuitive interface on the company's last GPS product, the Pharos Drive GPS 140, so we hope this isn't the case with the GPS Phone. Finally, with all the functionality of the smart phone, it will be interesting to see what kind of battery life it gets. Pharos says the GPS Phone is rated for 5 hours of talk time; 15 hours of PDA use; and up to 160 hours of standby time. We'll see once we get this puppy into our hands, so stay tuned for a full review. The Pharos GPS Phone is expected to hit store shelves in February.