>>Hi, I'm Bonnie Cha Senior Editor at CNET.com and today I've got your first look at the Garminfone for T-Mobile. This is the second smartphone from GPS maker Garmin and even though I've only had the device for a few hours so far, I can already tell you that it's a hug improvement over the Garmin Nuvifone which was released on AT&T back in October 2009. For one thing the Garmin has a sleeker design. I don't know if you remember the Nuvifone but it was a bit of a brick and just looked really boring but the Garminfone is a bit sexier with the nice shiny finish on the front and it has a slimmer profile so it's easier to carry around as a phone and a handheld navigator. It also features a higher resolution screen so everything looks sharper and colors pop a bit more. The built-in solid monitor is also much more responsive to switch the screen orientation when you rotate the phone.
But more than anything else I think what really makes the biggest difference here is that the Garminfone is running Android. The original Nuvifone was Linux based system and although it had all the element of a smartphone, the features weren't integrated well and the capabilities just seemed half-baked but we know that Android is a proven OS and also brings such things as all the Google services, a better browser, Android Market Place, support for Amazon MP3 Store and more. As you can see it's not running the standard Android skin. Garmin customized the user interface to permanently feature the navigation capabilities on the home screen which I think is fine. I think the UI is really easy to use and you can expand the tray from the right side and scroll through all your available apps and you can drag and drop your most frequently used programs to this bar here which you can easily access from the main screen. The one downside is that the Garminfone is running only Android 1.6 but T-Mobile has said the device is capable of over the air updates and is working on providing an Android 2.1 update.
Of course, as a Garmin device you get a heap of navigation features. The smartphone comes with preloaded maps of North American and nearly 6 million points of interest, can create routes for the car or in pedestrian mode and offers voice guided directions. There's even an app called Garmin Voice Studio where you can have a family member or a friend record a set of instructions and let that be the voice you hear when getting directions. Garmin's connected services are also available which let's you search for nearby gas prices, restaurants and movie times, real-time traffic and weather data and this times it's included in the price of the phone which is $199.99 with a two-year contract. You don't have to pay an extra monthly subscription fee like the Nuvifone required. Also included in the price of the phone is a car mount. The Garmin phone will be available from T-Mobile in June.
We're definitely looking forward to taking it out for a test drive to see how it does on the road but so far we've been pretty happy with what we've seen. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the Garminfone from T-Mobile.