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October 31, 2005

New Garmin GPS Avoids Traffic Jams, Plays MP3 Jams

Personal Tech Pipeline

Garmin announced today two new GPS gadgets that feature large, seven-inch touch screens. The new $1,499 StreetPilot 7200 and $1,800 StreetPilot 7500, show navigation, traffic, weather information and play satellite radio and MP3 files.

The devices feature internal players that support MP3 files and XM radio. The built-in MP3 player lets users browse music by artist, album, song, or genre. Music can be loaded onto an SD card. The StreetPilot 7200 and 7500 are also compatible with, a subscription based audio book service. All music or speech files can be played over a vehicle’s existing speakers, through the StreetPilot’s built-in FM wireless transmitter or via the unit’s headphone jack. The entertainment audio is automatically muted when navigation instructions are given.

Optional traffic management functionality notifies the driver of accidents, road construction, and weather-related traffic delays before they are encountered, then offers an alternative route.

In the United States, traffic data is supplied by XM NavTraffic or Clear Channel’s RDS-TMC Total Traffic Network. In Europe, the RDS-TMC traffic is supplied by various providers depending upon the country. XM NavTraffic is aggregated by NAVTEQ Traffic and is the first satellite-based data traffic information service that enables an overlay of current traffic conditions in select markets across the U.S.

Also optional, XM Weather gives live weather information along the known route of travel, including current conditions, city forecasts, and warnings for tornadoes, thunderstorms, and floods.

The StreetPilot 7200 and 7500 can also display a video signal from an external analog source, such as a back-up camera. When an external video source is active, the user may revert to the map display by touching anywhere on the screen. This feature is available only in the United States. Users can augment the pre-loaded maps with Custom POIs such as school zones and safety cameras.

The 7500 model also offers a dead-reckoning feature that allows drivers to continue receiving navigational cues when GPS signals are obscured -- such as tunnels -- through a built-in solid state gyro and a connection to a vehicle’s odometer system. Minimal installation is required for this feature.

The face of the StreetPilot 7200 and 7500 only just one button: an on/off switch. The side and back of the unit houses integrated internal speaker, mini USB port, AV input, SD card slot and 3.5 mm, stereo output jack. A wireless infrared alphanumeric remote control that allows easy operation of the device from a distance.

Traffic, weather, and audio data are delivered to the StreetPilot 7200 and 7500 through the GTM 10, GTM 11 or GXM 30 antenna. The GTM 10 and GTM 11 are FM RDS-TMC traffic receivers that receive digital information (where available) on traffic, road construction, and weather related tie-ups. The GTM 10 requires installation, and Garmin recommends that customers visit an aftermarket automotive electronics dealer to install the GTM 10. The newly announced GTM 11 is a portable FM RDS-TMC receiver that does not require installation. The GXM 30 delivers the XM Satellite Radio, NavTraffic and Weather services. Roughly three inches in diameter, the GXM 30 processes all XM information and sends the finished data to the unit for display.

Both units are expected to become available in December.

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