Pharos Launches GPS-Centric Smartphone - InformationWeek

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1/7/2009
02:36 PM
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Pharos Launches GPS-Centric Smartphone

The Windows Mobile-powered handset will be able to offer turn-by-turn navigation without a cellular data connection.


Pharos Traveler 137 GPS-Centric Smartphone

Pharos Traveler 137 GPS-centric smartphone
(click for larger image)

Gadget maker Pharos is hoping to use its experience with personal navigation devices to make the Traveler 137 smartphone a good device for road warriors.

Like many smartphones, the Traveler 137 has a GPS chipset, and there's software to provide turn-by-turn navigation. But the Windows Mobile-powered smartphone differentiates itself by not needing a cellular data network to provide these services.

The handset comes preloaded with Pharos' Smart Navigator software, and users will be able to create routes, look at maps, and get turn-by-turn directions without a network. Users can utilize a data connection to get live traffic information, as well as let friends and family know your route with a service called Follow Me.

The smartphone will come preloaded with maps of the United States, and users can purchase additional maps. Smart Navigator is a pay-as-you-go service that's priced at $1.99 per day, but users also can buy weekly, monthly, and yearly subscriptions. Users also have the option of skipping the preloaded software and using the Windows Live search application for directions and maps, but those services are not as robust.

The Traveler is more than a personal navigation device, though, and it has many of the modern features users expect from smartphones. It has integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 3-megapixel camera, microSD expansion slot, and a large 3.5-inch touch screen.

The Pharos will be sold unlocked in the first quarter of this year, and it will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. The smartphone will only support T-Mobile's 3G data network, but it will have EDGE connection for AT&T. Because there will be no carrier subsidy, the company expects it to retail for about $600.

Pharos may have a tough time making a dent in the market, as mobile navigation services are already available from Verizon, TeleNav, and Nokia. Additionally, Garmin has been preparing the navigation-heavy Nuvifone, and it's expected to launch soon with a carrier subsidy.

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