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HARDWARE: Mitac to release first GPS enabled Pocket PC 2003 called Mio 168
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 26.11.03 - 13:14:45 CET under 02 - Windows Mobile News - Viewed 6323x
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On 26 November, Taiwanese Mitac held a product launch for the Mio 168 at Victoria Plaza in Taipei's renowned Breeze Center shopping mall. The new GPS-enabled device is a new entry in MiTAC's lineup of handheld communications devices. The product launch featured MiTAC-Synnex Group chairman Matthew Miau; PC Home Group and iSurvey chairman Jan Hung-tze; Eddie Wu, Senior Director OEM Department of Microsoft Taiwan Corporation; and executives from Family Mart, a sales partner for the Mio 168.

The Mio 168's launch marks an important milestone in MiTAC's efforts in the consumer electronics market. Breaking from the "geeky" image associated with traditional 3C high-tech devices, the Mio 168 emphasizes lifestyle integration and personalization. It aims to be an easy-to-use, time-saving, portable, and reliable tool for street navigation, improving the quality and enhancing the enjoyment of driving, travel, recreation and other aspects of the mobile lifestyle (M-life).

The Mio 168 is Taiwan's most compact portable GPS voice-enabled navigation system, and the world's first GPS device to run the Pocket PC operating system (using Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC). In addition to its internal GPS receiver, ready to use with no installation required, the Mio 168 utilizes an Intel PXA-255 300MHz microprocessor and weighs just 147 grams (measuring 1.63 x 11.21 x 6.96 cm). Its bright 65,000-color TFT LCD screen with LED backlighting module makes for clear viewing indoors and out, while its one-button navigation design allows drivers to switch between the GPS and Pocket PC user interfaces with just a single finger.

Specifications:

  • 1. 3.5" color TFT LCD, LED backlighting module, 240 x 320 resolution, 65,000 colors
  • 32MB ROM + 64MB SDRAM
  • Satellite antenna and internal GPS module
  • Clear voice navigation with support for MP3 playback
  • SD/MMC slot with SDIO support
  • External 2.5mm earphone mini-jack
  • IrDA (SIR) and hardware-based Consumer IR (4 meters) support
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery:
    • 12 hours of continuous operation with GPS function off
    • 5.5 hours of continuous operation with GPS function on
    • 21 days in standby mode
    • Can maintain data for 72 hours in low battery power state

The Mio 168 also provides the Mio Map voice-enabled navigation map (on a 32MB MMC flash memory card, including a complete map of both Taiwan and the US), query services for 12 types of lifestyle information (including information on gas stations, parking lots, mass transit stations, restaurants, and scenic spots), queries to display current latitude and longitude, and voice alerts of speed camera locations. The Mio 168 also allows users to assign their own points of interest and new traffic camera locations, and even send this information to friends via e-mail to keep everyone abreast of the latest.

These capabilities make the Mio 168 an ideal tool for real-time information exchange and for making new friends, particularly among people who share an interest in a particular outdoor activity (for example, bird-watching, nature exploration, fishing, and so forth). In addition, the Mio 168 is perfect for searching for a particular facility or location while driving (for example, gas station, convenience store, restaurant), designing an efficient route for transit by car, or planning a trip. Positioned very differently from currently marketed GPS devices, the Mio 168 offers a tight integration of lifestyle applications and mobile information exchange.

At the product launch event, Jan Hung-tze, chairman of the PC Home Group and online consumer survey firm iSurvey, presented an analysis of M-life trends and the potential role that GPS devices can play in modern lifestyles. Jan remarked, "GPS devices are important M-life tools that are growing rapidly in popularity. With the introduction of various M-life tools, it's not difficult to see that M-life will become the predominant lifestyle in Taiwan over the next ten years. The survey of GPS device usage patterns among drivers in the greater Taipei metropolitan area conducted by iSurvey, representing its first joint project with MiTAC, found that there is considerable demand among city dwellers for GPS-based services. And turning GPS into a lifestyle technology will become an important driver for the M-life in urban environments. The introduction of the Mio 168, with its mass-market pricing and packaging as a complete solution, will introduce GPS services to consumer lifestyles on a large scale, satisfying the desire for and enabling the M-life."

Samuel Wang, general manager of MiTAC's Mobile Communication Business Unit, in turn noted, "The main design objective of the Mio 168 was to integrate GPS into a lifestyle device that would be an important tool for transforming consumer lifestyle habits. Moreover, as portable GPS devices become an integral part of M-life, the Mio 168's aim is to provide an thorough grasp of distance, time, and space, enabling individuals to experience the wonder of having information like street layouts, recreational activities, fine dining, and traffic conditions right in the palm on their hand. They will free themselves of the embarrassment and bother of having to ask for directions as well. This is an important lifestyle device that will be truly transformative in people's lives, allowing them to experience the true joy of driving and of being more autonomous."

Besides its positioning and pricing, the Mio 168 differs from other GPS devices on the market, in that its level of integration and simple operation sets in apart from solutions created from PDAs with GPS add-on modules. Moreover, sales channels for the Mio 168 will mark a departure from tradition. Besides continuing its cooperative relationship with Synnex International, MiTAC is also partnering with the renowned Taiwanese retailer Family Mart.

The Mio 168 will thereby be introduced to the consumer mass market as an all-new product through Synnex International's more than 10,000 sales outlets in Taiwan and the 1500-plus Family Mart stores on the island. People will not only be able to find the Mio 168 GPS at 3C stores when they are doing their weekend shopping, but can also pick one up when they drop into their neighborhood Family Mart for a pack of cigarettes or a newspaper on their way home from work.

The Mio 168 will go on sale at the Mio booth during IT Month, beginning November 29. Then on December 1, it will show up on shelves at Synnex International's own outlets, the Tsann Kuen 3C superstore chain, Fnac, and island-wide Family Mart convenience stores-as well as Mio Shops. (There are currently 14 Mio Shops distributors in Taiwan, and a total of 200 sales outlets.

The Mio 168's suggested retail price will be NT$12,000 (not including tax). Plans for international releases were't announced but it can be expected to see the Mio 168 released later with different brands in other countries then Taiwan only.

Cheers ~ Arne

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Comments
Posted by Grumpys on 05.04.04 - 01:59:41

Your article doesn't mention how available the GPS software is and if in fact it is available for other countries.

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