We've been waiting for a mainstream GPS maker to go the way of the innovative GPRS-powered Dash Express. Well, Magellan jumped first, embedding its own GPRS connectivity into a navigator and partnering with Google for dynamic local search wherever you have GPRS reception. (Dash is partnered with Yahoo's local search, which is nothing to sneeze at.) There's no Wi-Fi, like the Dash, but the dealbreaker might be the cost: the 5340 is set to ship this month for a whopping $1,500—and that's before the undisclosed monthly fee. (Press release after the jump.)
Magellan® Maestro™ Elite 5340+GPRS Connected Auto Navigation First to Deliver Real-time GoogleTM Local Search
New Integration Enables Drivers to Search and Route to Local Businesses, Products, and Services, Plus Send Trips Wirelessly from PC
LAS VEGAS - Jan. 6, 2008 - Magellan, the world's fastest-growing GPS brand, today premiered its Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS connected auto navigation unit featuring Google Local Search that enables users to get deep, location-specific information on the go. Scheduled to ship in Q1 2008, the Magellan Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS will be the first GPS model to enable users to search for local events - from concerts to local library events - as well as local businesses and services. Magellan will be showcasing its new products in its booth at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show booth (no. 31247) beginning Monday, Jan. 7, 2008.
Accessible on the Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS connected navigation device is Google's real-time local search enabling users to search the Web for businesses in a specific neighborhood, providing detailed, Internet-based information about those businesses - not just the business name or category. For example, users can search for "Star Wars" and find "Target" and "JPM Comics," among others, or get recommendations for the best banana cream pie near their point of reference. Users simply type in what it is they are looking for and Google displays relevant results around the user's current location or a user-specified location.
Through the new Maestro Elite 5340's wireless GPRS connection, Magellan also delivers real-time traffic information, local weather forecasts, and makes it possible for users to wirelessly send addresses and notes to the GPS device directly from a PC with an internet connection. The user can send destination addresses to the Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS in advance of the trip or have someone at home or back in the office send information from the Magellan website directly.
The Magellan Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS is the company's premiere GPS model. Like all of the newly introduced Elite models, it provides rendered 3-D landmarks and buildings; 6 million points of interest (POI); a USB port; and advanced voice command functionality. The Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS also features a 5-inch WQVGA widescreen; a 533 MHz S-Media 3362 processor; and the ability to perform deep searches on local areas and receive information sent from a PC for on-the-fly changes.
"We're pleased to be partnering with Magellan to provide users with detailed, relevant local information while on the road," said John Hanke, director of Google Maps & Earth. "Magellan devices are powerful, interactive tools for navigation and discovery that serve as a cutting-edge platform for Google's robust local search capabilities."
"We are thrilled to be joining forces with Google to provide GPS users with the most relevant local data available in a format that puts people in control of their travel experiences more than ever before," said Nelson Chan, president and CEO of Magellan. "Google's renowned expertise in helping users search and organize information adds a powerful and compelling component to our new Magellan Maestro Elite line. As the GPS category begins to expand beyond basic navigation and into more versatile exploration uses, the personal navigation device (PND) will become a primary resource for drivers and travellers to search for and access real-time information, monitor traffic information about their specific routes, and transmit data between communications devices."
"Connected PNDs can offer much more than just turn-by-turn navigation," said Chris Jones, vice president and principal analyst at research firm Canalys. "The successful vendors in this area will combine the compelling, dynamic services the connectivity potentially brings, in a device that is easy to use, has an attractive design, is affordable (both the device and subscription cost) and is well-explained to the customer at the point of sale. The partnership with Google will provide the owners of this new class of device with a familiar and trusted local search engine."
The Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS is scheduled to be available at retailers in March 2008 for an estimated MSRP of $1299.
The Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS will be compatible with Magellan VantagePointTM, the only desktop application on the market that helps people manage their GPS maps, information, and other content and easily sync it to their devices. Through VantagePoint, which is a free download from http://www.magellangps.com, Magellan customers can personalize and expand their GPS experience.