It’s such a simple idea, I can’t believe it took this long for it to happen. The Garmin nüvi 1690 has a SIM card built-in to the unit that offers live connections to things like weather, flight information, Google search over the internet and the ability to navigate to your 1690-toting friends’ locations.
Just to avoid any confusion, this is much more a Kindle solution to data – rather than requiring you to buy a data SIM card or pair your satnav to your phone’s data plan, the SIM card is installed and can’t be replaced. You originally get 12 months access to the online services – called nüLink – and after that you can pay $99 for a year’s subscription.
The most appealing feature of the service is called Ciao! which lets you navigate to your friend’s location with a press of a button. Of course, your friend needs to have a 1690 of their own, have it switched on, and has to have admitted to being your friend in the first place, so it’s not like you’ll be using this for stalking.
Other features include up to the minute fuel prices, currency exchange and safety camera information all delivered to the device in the background. The SUNA traffic channel is also delivered via an XML feed rather than an FM signal, which means you don’t need the extra antenna.
The nüvi 1690 costs $599, so it sits on the higher end of satnav prices, but the whole “always connected” thing means that it has the potential to get even better as Garmin rolls out new services.