Garmin has officially confirmed its divorce from ASUS, with the company confirming last week's rumors regarding the ill-fated Garmin-Asus partnership. Describing the move as "new mobile handset strategies," the non-press-speak version is that while existing Garmin-Asus devices will remain on sale, the two companies won't be working together on new models.
"Down dooby-do down down," sang Neil Sedaka, "breaking up is hard to do." Fitting words for Garmin-Asus today, who have apparently confirmed their intent to dissolve the current partnership come January 2011. Afterward, ASUS will resume sole branding of its handset business, while Garmin will be able to spread its PND services to a wider range of devices and companies.
Garmin has outed the unusually-named chirp, a $22.99 geocaching dongle intended for those people whose idea of a good weekend is snuffling round clutching their PND and looking for treasure in Tupperware. Compatible with any of the company's wirelessly-enabled handhelds, the chirp can basically be programmed to give location hints for other geocachers, and then hidden - it's waterproof, usefully - so as to encourage them along the way whenever they pass.
Garmin has outed two new GPS watches, the Forerunner 410 and Forerunner 210, targeted at healthy people who step out from behind their computers once in a while. The Garmin Forerunner 410 has a new "touch bezel" for easier use while running, and comes with a new heart monitor strap and wireless connectivity for transferring position and performance data when you're back home.
Garmin has outed its latest PND, and the Edge 800 is targeted at cyclists either prone to getting lost or wanting to track their performance. A compact unit with a 2.6-inch color touchscreen, the Edge 800 comes with a simple twist-on handlebar mount and can track not only position but speed, distance, time, elevation, calories burned, climb and descent. Pair it with an ANT+ compliant monitor, meanwhile, and you can also record heartrate and speed/cadence (sensor depending).
Using Garmin's Custom Maps software, owners can manage their own topographical data or load on preconfigured packages, such as City Navigator maps, stored on a microSD card. The Edge 800 also supports satellite imagery, and requires no calibration if moved between bikes: the company says you can simply twist it off the mount and snap it onto a different cycle.
Bad news for Garmin today, with the announcement that the PND company is recalling around 1.25m nuvi GPS systems over concerns that third-party batteries may overheat and, potentially, cause fires. Owners of Garmin nuvi 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx and 7xxT (where xx is a two-digit number) PNDs should check out the company's special site, punch in the serial number and see if they're affected; if so, the unit will have to be sent back (at no cost, naturally) for battery replacement.
Today is turning out to be day of the GPS voice tones. NavTones has announced that the voice of KITT from the Knight Rider TV show of my youth is now available. The KITT voice pack is compatible with Garmin nuvi GPS units and the Garminfone on T-Mobile.
ASUS has denied recent analyst speculation that the company has sold a mere 20,000 nuvifone handsets through carrier T-Mobile USA, though they've also declined to give out any more accurate figures. According to DigiTimes, ASUS claims their nuvifone shipments are "as previously planned."
Garmin's successor the cellular-enabled nuvi 1690 PND, the unimaginatively named Garmin nuvi 1695, has been spotted clearing the FCC. Official specifications are unknown, but the nuvi 1695 is expected to have a touchscreen UI, Bluetooth and GSM connectivity; the latter will likely be used for mobile access to Google Local search information.
Dogs, eh? Because they will insist on having legs, you can't always be sure they'll still be where you left them when you come back home. Bravely filling that lost-dog niche is Garmin, who have just taken the wraps off their second-gen Astro GPS Dog Tracking Collar. The Garmin DC 40 has an integrated GPS puck and goes round your dog's neck, while the waterproof Garmin Astro 220 receiver shows exactly where the animal is on its color display.