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Pharos Releases Geo-Centric Smartphone

The GPS-centric handset is powered by Windows Mobile, can use T-Mobile's 3G, and can provide turn-by-turn directions without a data connection.
Pharos Traveler 137
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Pharos Traveler 137

Road warriors may want to take a hard look at the recently launched Pharos Traveler 137 because its strong navigation features make it a viable replacement for a standalone GPS unit.

The handset is powered by Windows Mobile, and users will be able to upgrade it when the 6.5 version is released later this year. Like many smartphones, the Traveler has a GPS chipset for location-based services, but the key differentiator is that it doesn't need a data connection to provide turn-by-turn navigation services.

The handset comes preloaded with Pharos' Smart Navigator software, and users will be able to create routes, look at maps, and get turn-by-turn directions without a network. Users can utilize a data connection to get live traffic information, as well as let friends and family know their routes with a service called Follow Me.

Pharos' navigation software is a pay-as-you-go service that is priced at $1.99 per day, but users can buy weekly, monthly, and yearly subscriptions. Users can opt for the free Windows Live applications for maps and directions, but those services are not as fleshed out as Pharos' software.

The Traveler comes with integrated Wi-Fi for surfing the Web and sending e-mails, and it can use T-Mobile's 3G services and AT&T's EDGE data connection. The handset has a large touch screen, Bluetooth, a 3-megapixel camera, and a microSD slot for memory expansion.

It's unclear how successful the Traveler will be, as it's only being sold unlocked and is priced at about $600. It also will be competing against multiple blockbuster smartphones this summer, including Nokia's N97, the Palm Pre, HTC's updated "Touch" lineup, and potentially a new iPhone from Apple.


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