As was predicted they would, Garmin has announced its grand entrance into the mobile phone market with the "nüvifone", that they describe as "an all-in-one, sleek and slim, touchscreen device that combines a premium phone, mobile web-browser, and cutting-edge personal navigator".
The nüvifone, an all touchscreen device, is the first of its kind to integrate 3.5G phone capability with an internet browser, data connectivity, personal messaging, and full personal navigation functions in one device.
The 3.5-inch touchscreen display has three main icons — "Call", "Search", and "View Map". When the nüvifone is docked into its vehicle mount, it automatically turns on the GPS, and enables hands-free calling.
The GPS side of things has preloaded maps of North America or Eastern and Western Europe, or both, and contains all that you'd expect from a full-featured PND, as well as a few sweet extras.
The nüvifone is Garmin's first device to include Google local search capability, which means users can search for locations like "coffee shops" and Google will sort the results based on the user's current location and relevance.
For the forgetful, the phone has Garmin's "Where am I?" feature as well as the ability to help drivers find their car by automatically marking the position in which it was last removed from the vehicle mount.
Borrowing from Navman's Navpix feature, the built-in camera allows users to take a picture that will automatically be tagged with the exact lat and long references of where the image was taken, which means the user can save the image so they can navigate back to the location, or email the image to someone else.
The nüvifone also provides direct access to millions of geo-located landmark and sightseeing photographs available through Google's Panoramio picture sharing site that can be used similarly.
Other multimedia functions of the nüvifone include a built-in video camera, MP3 and MPEG4/AAC player.
Garmin "anticipates" that the nüvifone will be available in the third quarter of 2008 when specific details about pricing and sales partners will be announced.
The nüvifone is going to be on show at 3GSM in February, Pocket-lint will be attending this event, so will bring you more info - and hopefully a hands-on - with the exciting new device from the show floor.