MWC 2009: Live Report

Garmin-Asus nuvifone G60

Oh my gosh, we’re excited! We’re just coming back from the Garmin-Asus booth at the MWC 2009, where we checked their phone, the nuvifone G60. It was showcased last year as well, but all Garmin had at the time was a dummy. Now, they have a fully working unit.

Let us check it out. It is running Garmin’s proprietary OS based on Linux, which is really nice! It’s rarely that we are excited by some product, but the nuvifone managed to shake something in us. The hardware is fine, the display is good and the OS, oh the OS. It is smooth, intuitive, pretty, it’s definitely one of our favorites now. Icons are large in size and with good resolution, lots of details. It is easy to press them and to find the things you are searching for. It is also very intuitive and after a couple of minutes we felt as if we’ve used it for long. One very great feature is that the whole OS is optimized for both portrait and landscape mode. We’ve used it horizontally, as it is more unique and we wanted to make sure it will work fine in such mode.

Are you eager to hear a few details? Well, here they are. There is no homescreen, as in the iPhone, you start with the menu – there are large icons for Calls, Search and Maps and carousel with the rest of the features. Calls allows gives you access to contacts, dial pad and call history. Search allows you to perform various searches – for contact, address, local search (using Google to find points of interest (POI) around you), POI, routes, etc – do not forget this is a Garmin GPS phone! Once you choose what you want to see on the Map, the next big icon will be what you’ll need, leading you into the GPS navigation screen. Garmin told us the experience will be as good as of their stand alone GPS devices, however, do not forget that there is Internet connection, so it may be even better!

What about the rest of the functionality, is it a good all-in-one phone? As we’ve said, the carousel with the smaller icons is used for the rest of the features. Here again you can go into the Contacts – they are displayed well, it is easy to scroll and you can filter by first letter. If you have lots of people in your address book – do not forget that there is option to search in the Search menu. Messaging is also well done and intuitive. Text is entered view the on-screen keyboard; it is a QWERTY in landscape mode and ABCDE when in portrait. The Music player is rather ugly, but is easy to use with large buttons and filtering options (by artist, album, etc). The video player on the other hand is ... missing. It is not because these are prototypes, Garmin has decided not to include video player in the phone at all. Garmin employee told us that they are LBS (location based services) centric company and do not target the nuvifone as a multimedia device. The calendar also cached our attention with its integration of the weather app (it is available as a separate item as well). You see your schedule but also each day has an icon with the weather forecast – nice.

Overall, we really like what we see. It is easy to use, looks well and will probably become the best phone for navigation. However, there are a few great drawbacks – the lack of video and the fact that this is not a smart phone. Probably this problem will be solved with the second nuvifone, the M20. It is Windows Mobile 6.5 based and Garmin-Asus told us that exactly the same interface will be on top of the core OS. However, currently they have only early versions behind the glass, so we’d like to see how it will perform to make sure we like it. The G60 is expected to launch in the first half of the year, while currently there is no exact information when the M20 will be available.

Garmin-Asus nivifone M20


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