Garmin drops a boatload of GPS units at CES

Its that great time of year again when the holidays are technically over but the giving keeps right on going. Next week the giving will be from the Detroit Auto Show and MacWorld, but this week the giving is from the Consumer Electronics Show. While the show really gets moving tomorrow the product announcements have started in earnest already. With that in mind Garmin jumped on it and basically released about 1,000 new or redesigned units. Changes come to the Forerunner, Nuvi, iQue, and a host of other receivers. The details are too numerous to list but basic descriptions and links after the jump.

Nearest and dearest to my running, biking and outdoor gadget obsessed heart is the new Forerunner 205 and 305. As an avid user of the 301 I am glad to see some of the changes to the new unit, foremost is the new smaller Sunnto x9i inspired design. Rather than the old bulky receiver the new receiver looks like a watch and supposedly has better and faster reception. Other changes include the ability to create automatic laps at pre-designated distances, auto pause when you stop while running, and the ability to move between sports without resetting the unit. In addition the new 305 comes with a, thank heavens because the old one chafes like a mo-fo, softer heart rate strap. The new units are supposed to drop in February and cost $249 for the 205 and $349 for the 305 .

Next on the list of changes is the new iQue 3000 an entry level Palm powered PDA. While I am a firm believer that PDA's are a platform that is being replaced by smartphones, this one looks pretty nice. The unit has all the obligatory features you would expect such as integration of date book and contacts with GPS, multiple navigation modes and transflash expansion. One feature that seems pretty cool, especially for boaters, is the BlueChart compatiability. Expect this to drop in February at around $427 (random price or what?)

Next in line is the Nuvi 350 the ultra cool do it all travel device. This device has won raves for its convergence as a navigation, MP3 player, audio book player, language translator, currency converter, measurement converter, JPEG picture viewer, world travel clock with time zones, travel guide, and a calculator. The new feature that is most notable is the SaversGuide. This feature is advertised as a "geocoded coupon book" that notifies users of locations they are near where they can save money on purchases. In particular it offers subscribers the opportunity to save up to 20% off dining, restaurants and services and up to 50% off hotels. The service currently works in over 160 different markets in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. In addition Garmin also announced a travel guide which provides in-depth travel information (reviews and recommendations) of hotels, restaurants, etc.. This is available now for approximately $899.

Finally, Garmin decided to announce what it calls "X-treme handheld makeover". Insert your own cheesy comments here. Basically, the makeover consists of adding removable micro-SD slots to its eTrex Legend Cx, eTrex Vista Cx, GPSMAP 60Cx, GPSMAP 60CSx, GPSMAP 76Cx, and GPSMAP 76CSx. The SD slots will allow users to purchase preloaded map data (TOPO, Bluechart, and City Navigator. Importantly, the SD slot is inside the waterproof battery compartment ensuring your SD card will be safe from the elements. Prices range all over as do features and are expected to be available in early Q1 of 2006.

Overall these updates and changes once again make sure that Garmin has the most technically advanced and complete lineup of GPS units going.