Sony has announced a new range of satellite navigation devices that it hopes will sure-up its poor results in the GPS and car stereo market during 2005.
The new range, titled Nav-U, will offer a 3.5 inch touch screen display with an extra-wide 80 degree viewing angle in a unit that looks like a cross between the TomTom Go and a miniature Wega television than a GPS unit.
The entry level device will be the NV-U50 and this will feature complete maps of UK and Ireland and France down to Paris. A traffic version of the NV-U50 called the NV-U50T will offer support for TMC data and allow the device to automatically re-route you around any traffic trouble spots as they happen.
Like the Navman 530 offering, Sony are promising traffic support for the lifetime of the product however unlike the Navman device, Sony have managed to fit the aerial into the unit's cradle rather than insist you have a cable draped across your dashboard.
The NV-U70 will come with the Traffic support as well as a built in 1Gb Flash memory drive to store most of Europe - excluding Scandinavia and Italy - on the device.
Sony has also fitted the The NV-U50 and NV-U70 with the world's first two-way speaker on a GPS system, thanks to a 1.6 Woofer at the back and a Tweeter in the front.
All three devices promise a battery life of around 4 hours and use Navteq mapping software.
The new Nav-U range will be available in January 2006. Prices have yet to be confirmed however a Sony spokeperson suggested that the NV-U50 would be around £319 and the NV-U50T around £449. A price was not suggested for the NV-U70.
We will keep you posted.