Argh, what is the flippin' hold-up?!
Traffic: It's frustrating as hell and it can certainly contribute to road rage, but easy there, tiger: Help is on the way.
Today, Sony announced its second, portable navigation system, the Sony NV-U71T, which adds to the capabilities of its predecessor, the NV-U70, by incorporating real-time traffic services.
How does it work? Well, the NV-U71T will ship with a cradle with a built-in traffic receiver, and the unit will alert you to heavily congested areas and automatically give you alternate route options. The service is free for the first 90 days, but then you would have to pay a subscription fee of $4.95 per month, which is par with other in-car GPS devices offering traffic updates.
But wait, there's more. The Sony NV-U71T features a new user-interface to eliminate the need for digging through submenus to accomplish a single task. Sony calls it the Gesture Command, and apparently, you can draw invisible signs on the unit's 3.5-inch touch screen to get frequently used commands. For example, you can use your finger to draw an inverted V on the screen, and this will signal the NV-U71T to launch the Take Me Home feature. Hmm, sounds interesting but I'm not particularly sold on it yet. How an inverted V corresponds to taking me home, I'm not sure. In addition, depending on how many commands there are, I don't know if I want to memorize a whole list of weird symbols. At least with the menus, I know where to go, even if I have to go through several layers. But I'll certainly give the Gesture Command a fair chance when we get the NV-U71T for a test-drive.
Other highlights of the Sony NV-U71T include preloaded maps of the United States and Canada, a database with 7 million points-of-interest, and text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. (Where's the love for text-to-speech functionality?) It also features a slimmer design than the Sony NV-U70; has a six hour rated battery life (versus its predecessor's four hours); and a lower, more affordable price point of $500.
Kudos, Sony. Now, we'll just have to wait to see if you've improved upon the sluggish route calculation of the NV-U70.
The Sony NV-U71T is expected to ship in January 2007.