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Navigon steals the limelight with new products at IFA 2009


Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 10 Sep 2009

pocketgpsworld.comThis year's IFA show has finished to triumphant cries of success from the organisers. Certainly in contrast to other trade shows this year there seemed to be more exhibitors and more visitors. This in part can be explained by the fact that IFA is a consumer show rather than a trade show, and somewhat approaching one third of the attendees were of school age. The number of exhibitors was bolstered by the introduction of home appliances without which there would have been at least 25% less stands.

On a more positive side there was a very good turnout from the Far East, with Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Korea filling their respective halls. This is a good sign for the global economy recovery as a lot of these companies have been noticeably missing from other shows this year.

From a GPS standpoint the turnout was a little disappointing. It may well be because I arrived for the last few days of the event, but I very much had the impression that this was a domestic show for Germany rather than a European event. In fact the only stand with senior staff was Navigon, which co-incidently was the only stand with anything really interesting to see. More of which later. There were 4 mainstream SatNav companies displaying in the communications hall: Garmin, Mio, Navigon and TomTom, with Mio having a reasonably small stand and the others having a more major presence. The mainly German companies Falk and Medion-Scout were also out in force.

The Garmin stand was staffed by mainly German speaking personnel who despite trying their best were unable to help me. It was not much help either that all the documentation was in German... Where is Lutz when you need him? Despite the difficulties I did discover that there were a number of new devices there including the Dakota (a smaller version of the Oregon) a new Oregon: the 550t with 3D mapping and connectivity to the ANT monitors for cycling and running. Whilst on the subject of sports the new Forerunner 310XT was on display. For the SatNav PND devices we also saw the new nuvi 1690 with nulink and the nuvi 1490Tpro.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Mio had the range of Spirit devices that were launched in the UK earlier this year on display along with a number of SatNavs incorporating a DVT (digital television) receiver. The flagship of these is a rather nice 7" device. I am not entirely convinced that TV has a place on a mass-market navigation device but I can see the usefulness for niche markets like campers, caravaners and possibly fishermen.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


A couple of days before the show TomTom announced the latest of their SatNav devices: the TomTom GO x50 range. Again with no senior staff on the stand I struggled with a German speaking presenter, who knew less about these devices than I did... Essentially looking at the x50 range it does not seem like a great step ahead of the current x40 range. There are some new features and the user interface has been tidied up a bit, but it is not such a great improvement that I would be rushing out to get one if I already had a 940, bearing in mind that most of the features of the UI will probably be available on the existing devices at some time in the future.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Back in June there was a lot of hype surrounding the launch of the iPhone 3GS and the new TomTom iPhone dock. At IFA there was very little emphasis on the TomTom iPhone product indeed the new mount was fully encased in a display cabinet and we could not get our hands on it. It seems strange that TomTom were there at the launch of the iPhone and yet were one of the last to get their app into the App Store and even now the promised summer launch has turned into October and still we we have no real idea how good the dock is.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


So to the real interest of the show from my point of view (with my GPS hat on): Navigon. Now this was a real surprise for me as Navigon have pulled out of the US market and do not have the strongest of presences in the UK market. Of course Germany is the home market and IFA is the perfect place to announce new products. Well this time they have really pushed the boat out. The latest flagship device the 8450 Live features a superb glass screen with conductive touch screen technology (as seen on the iPhone), a genuine brushed metal casing (not plastic), live traffic on a pan-European level, and to top it all a 3D photo-realistic navigation mode for 16 European cities. The 8540 Live will be available for €499.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Now when I say 3D photo-realistic navigation that is exactly what I mean. Not simulated junction views, but a full 3D display, with the option of a 2D map alongside it. I must confess to being a little skeptical about the real usefulness of this, but it is certainly impressive, and is probably something I could get used to very quickly.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


The live connection to the Navigon devices is provided by an adapter that fits in the cable between the power supply and the device. This delivers both the static (editorial) data and also floating vehicle information. This service also provides weather and live mobile camera reports (from other users using the system). The live services are available Europe wide for an annual charge of 60 euros compared to €109 for TomTom's live services.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Just above I mentioned that TomTom was the last navigation app to hit the iTunes app store, well Navigon was one of the first. Another announcement that they made at the show was a passive mount for the iPhone. This will be based on the current design mount for the PND but with an interchangeable iPhone holder. The package will include a cigar lighter USB adapter and a charging cable. This is scheduled to be available in October, probably hitting the retailer's shelves before the TomTom mount.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Moving on to devices Apple (rather typically) were not there, but many of the 3rd party phone accessory companies were, and most had the usual range of cases and adapters for the iPhone. Some that caught my attention were the iHug case, a wrap round case with a neck strap, some AV docks allowing your iPhone to be connected to a TV, and finally a TV with a built in iPhone dock. Unfortunately this didn't work very well on the one I tried. The iPhone claimed it was not compatible, then the TV hung when trying to connect to the iPhone.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


Other than Apple I saw some neat new devices on the Samsung stand. In fact of all the exhibitors at the show Samsung was the company that really scored top for me. Getting back on track Samsung have 3 new phones: the Galaxy the Pixon 12 and the Omnia II.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


The Samsung Galaxy is a new device which runs the Android platform. The device has all the styling of the iPhone, but with the openness of the Android OS. It, of course, has a built in GPS for navigation and Geo-tagging, but the best feature is its screen!! The Samsung Galaxy has an AMOLED capacitive touch screen. If you have followed some of my ravings about OLED technology you will understand why I am so excited. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode displays are simply the peak of display technology available today, and now Samsung have released a number of products incorporating it. Any pictures that we post simply cannot do justice to the quality of the displays, they just have to be seen to be believed.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009
Samsung's Galaxy Android phone


For those of you who are Windows Mobile fans Samsung has the device for you as well. Both the Pixon 12 and the Omnia II are WM6.1 based devices that have built in GPS and also has a fantastic AMOLED screens as well. The Pixon 12 is a standard touch screen device with a 12MP camera whilst the Omnia II has a slide out keyboard and also supports the new DLNA sharing protocols.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009
The Samsung Pixon 12


Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009
The Samsung Omnia II


But Samsung were not finished there... They also had a GPS enabled camera on show: the ST1000. This is a compact camera with a 12MP sensor, but what makes this special is the built in communications capabilities. The camera is equipped with GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi enabling it to process and send images and movies wirelessly. It also supports the up and coming DLNA sharing.

Pocketgpsworld.com at IFA Berlin 2009


So, in conclusion, the IFA show overall was a big success despite the disappointing turnout from GPS companies. Hats off to Navigon who seem to be emerging as some serious competition to the dominance of TomTom with both connected navigation and innovative designs. I was a little surprised that there was next to no coverage for the iPhone as far as navigation goes, but then maybe the forum for that will be Mobile World Congress next year. This being the last major show for 2009 I am now starting to look forward to the reaction that we may see from the other SatNav companies both in terms of combating the very real threat posed by the Android and iPhone platforms and to the competition that is rising to address TomTom's dominance.
Comments
Posted by MaFt on Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:40 am Reply with quote

the navigon iphone mount looks rather nice - was their any idea of price? i could do with a mount for 'other cars' (ie not the brodit set up in mine!)

MaFt


MaFt®

 
Posted by gdclark on Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:50 am Reply with quote

Thanks for the report MikeB Smile

There are a lot of new ideas 'out there' Shocked

I like the Iphone mount - it looks very tidy


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