Garmin Hopes for Happy Feet with New Pedestrian-Friendly nuvi GPS Series

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It’s no secret that people who need to get from point A to point B aren’t always driving a car, so GPS marker Garmin is finally coming out with pedestrian-friendly GPS units in the form of its new nüvi 1200 and nüvi 1300 series. The new units will feature a slim form factor designed to be affordable and useful both in a car and on foot. Optional CityXplorer maps will be available for selected tourist destinations in the U.S. and Europe for folks getting around on foot—and the optional maps can be downloaded directly to the GPS devices.

“Our nüvi devices are known for the great navigation experience they provide in the vehicle. Now our customers can have that same great experience when navigating an unfamiliar city by foot or public transportation,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales, in a statement.

The nüvi 1300 series will feature five models (the 1300, 1450, 1350T, 1370T, and 1390T) with a 4.3-inch touchscreen display and text-to-speech technology for spoken directions—the “T” models will also feature a traffic receiver for Navteq traffic alerts within coverage areas (no subscription fee required). The 1300 will come with maps of the U.S. (excluding Alaska) and Puerto Rico, while the 1350 will cover all of North America. The 1370T will ship with maps for North America and Europe. The 1350, 1350T, and 1370T will highlight preferred lanes on multi-lane roads, while the 1390T will add realistic views of road junctions, where they are available. The 1370T and 1390T will also offer Bluetooth functionality. Prices will range from $249.99 for the 1300 to $399.99 for the 1390T.

The nüvi 1200 series will feature three models—the 1200, 1250, and 1260T—with 3.5-inch touchscreen displays and text-to-speech functionality. Again, the “T” model adds Navteq traffic alerts and Bluetooth functionality. The 1200 comes with maps for the U.S. and Puerto Rico (excluding Alaska), and the 1250 and 1260T cover all of North America. Expect to see them for $199.99, $249.99, and $299.99, respectively.

Pedestrian-friendly maps will be available for selected cities in the U.S. and Europe at a price of $9.99 to $14.99 per city; users will be able to selectively add pedestrian information to the units on a city-by-city basis to help them get around using pedestrian and public transit options like railways, buses, metros, and suburban rail. All the new n&umml;vi units feature ecoRoute driving preferences enabling drivers to choose between the quickest, shortest, and most fuel efficient routes.

Garmin says all eight new nüvi 1300 and nüvi 1200 GPS units should ship in the second quarter of 2009; Garmin says it will also post a listing of cities with CityXplorer pedestrian maps by then.

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