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Dell turns netbooks into navigation devices

  • Story Highlights
  • Dell will introduce a GPS and Wi-Fi card that can be added to its netbooks
  • The company's netbooks will be able to offer turn-by-turn directions
  • Makers are looking beyond traditional GPS gadgets to offer software on other devices
  • Users will be able to geo-tag photos on Flickr or check customized weather info
By Priya Ganapati
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(WIRED) -- Say hello to your latest personal navigation device: a netbook. Dell plans to introduce a GPS and Wi-Fi card that can be integrated into the company's netbooks to turn them into gizmos that can offer turn-by-turn direction as well as any Garmin or TomTom.

Dell will introduce a GPS and Wi-Fi card that can be added to its netbooks to offer turn-by-turn direction.

Dell will introduce a GPS and Wi-Fi card that can be added to its netbooks to offer turn-by-turn direction.

"Smartphones already have GPS capabilities," says Alan Sicher, senior wireless product manager at Dell. "We are now bringing it to netbooks so the devices know where you are and can help you where you want to go."

Customers will have the option to buy the $69 card called the Wireless 700 when ordering their Dell Mini 10 netbook.

Dell's move comes at a time when navigation devices makers are looking beyond the traditional standalone GPS gadget and are offering their software on other devices.

Last month, TomTom announced that its turn-by-turn directions app would be available on the iPhone. TomTom will also offer accessories such as a car mounting dock and power charger. Meanwhile, Dell is hoping to capitalize on the explosive sales of netbooks.

Dell netbooks with the integrated GPS cards will allow consumers to pop open a netbook and get directions and also also make their netbook location aware. For instance, buyers can geo-tag photos on Flickr or check weather information customized to their current location. The Wireless 700 card combines Broadcom's GPS technology and Skyhook Wireless' Wi-Fi positioning solutions.

As for the navigation software, it offers 2D and 3D map views, save addresses for a trip and route optimization-- pretty much all the things that a standard GPS devices does.

Netbooks are petite devices. Still, it is difficult to imagine consumers carrying it around as a GPS navigation device or using it their car to find their way around--especially when smaller-sized cellphones could do the job.

Sicher says Dell's GPS-capable netbooks will come in handy for international travelers. "If you are traveling to Europe roaming costs can be pretty pricey for your cellphone," he says.

The GPS netbooks could also be handy in areas where cellphone coverage is weak, says Sicher. But there's fine print to the turn-by-turn directions navigation software on the netbook. Though it will be free for buyers of the card and the netbook, the maps will be updated yearly and customers could be charged for the updates.

Dell plans to offer accessories such as car charger and a dock for the netbooks, but they won't be available until later this month. The GPS cards will be available starting July 7.

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Copyright 2009

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