Mio Launches GPS Phones at Computex, Gives Garmin a Run for Its Money

GPS manufacturer Mio isn’t going to let Garmin get away with its nüviPhone. The company announced two new phones this week at Computex: the Leap K1 and the Leap G50 Navigation PDA Phone. The Leap K1 (first previewed at CES) screams Samsung UpStage with its dual-sided form. One side of the candy-bar phone has a touch GPS screen, and the other side a basic keypad. The Leap G50 is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device with built-in navigation capability. I stopped by the Mio booth here in Taipei to get a closer look at the phones. Hands-On with the Leap K1 I like that the dual-sided Leap K1 keeps the phone separate from the GPS functionality. But I do anticipate some potential issues since the touch interface doesn’t seem to support phone capabilities such as accepting an incoming call. The phone at the Mio booth didn’t have a SIM card, so testing out voice capability and the screen’s UI was out of the question, but I did like the feel of the spacious keypad. The phone side sports a 1.6-inch TFT OLED screen. The 3.2-ounce phone felt light in hand and reminded me of LG’s Vu. I got a good feel of the responsive, touch-capable navigational user interface. There was no signal in the convention center, but I was able to bring up a map of the area, albeit in Chinese. No word on how many POIs are preloaded on the device but plenty were loaded on for the Taipei area. The 2.6-inch TFT touchscreen was bright and colors looked vivid. I was able to change the orientation of the screen easily. The phone is preloaded with MioMaps 2008, and has a 2-megapixel camera, microSD Card slot, and Bluetooth 2.0, and it works over GSM tri-band 900/1800/1900-MHz networks. Hands-On with the Leap G50 The Leap G50 is a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone with navigation capability. The PDA sports a 2.8-inch touchscreen and Mio has created a customized user interface. All of the GPS capablities are filed under the Mio Maps icon. Similar to the Leap K1, it also is preloaded with MioMaps 2008, and has a 2-megapixel camera, microSD Card slot, Bluetooth 2.0, and it works over GSM quad-band 850/900/1800/1900-MHz networks. No word yet on pricing or stateside availability of the Mio Leap K1 and Leap G50.

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