Garmin, one of the leaders in consumer GPS technology, has taken the wraps off a new handheld device today that looks to be a promising new entry for outdoor enthusiasts. At least those with some extra cash to spend.
The new Monterra is expected to begin shipping in the third quarter (read: July or August) and will be powered by the Android operating system that is so common on many mobile phones these days. In fact, Garmin’s new device resembles a mobile phone in many ways, simply lacking the ability to actually make calls.
The device comes equipped with built-in WiFi, enabling the user to download updates and add apps to the Monterra without ever connecting it to a a computer. It also features an 8-megpixel camera, 6GB of internal memory (expandable through the use of microSD cards) and a 4-inch touch screen that has been optimized to be used in the outdoors without the need for battery-crushing backlighting. As you would expect, the handheld is ruggedized and waterproof (IPX7) and can run off of either the included rechargeable battery pack or AA batteries. It includes Bluetooth 3.0, NFC technology, an FM radio complete with NOAA weather, a UV sensor for keeping track of the intensity of the sun and a barometer/altimeter that measure not only your changes in altitude but possible changes to the weather as well. Preinstalled apps will enhance functionality further and the Google Play Store will obviously be available to get Angry Birds on this bad-boy as well.
There is no word on exactly which version of Android the Monterra is running but I suspect it’ll be the most recent release of Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) that is available when it begins shipping. Battery life remains a questions as well, but that is always the case with a GPS device these days. Prices start at $650 for the base unit with a built-in world map while $700 will get you a version preloaded with U.S. Topo maps as well.
This looks like it’ll be a great device and I’m sure it’ll be a hit with the geocaching crowd considering how easy it should be to add cache’s to the device. The price seems a bit steep but it seems like it packs in a lot of functionality. If it can provide good battery life, this may just be the new GPS handheld to beat.
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