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Garmin Recalls 1.3 Million GPS Units, Pushes Further Into Smartphone Market

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Garminfone from T-Mobile

Garminfone from T-Mobile

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If you're a Garmin fan, the company has good news and bad news.

On the bad front, the company has recalled 1.3 million of its popular GPS units because they constitute a potential fire hazard. Technically, the devices themselves aren't at fault, just the batteries from an unnamed third-party supplier. Still, the combination of those cells and certain Garmin circuit boards has resulted in overheating. The problem has been identified in fewer than ten instances, and as Garmin notes,"there have been no injuries or significant property damage caused by this issue".

If you're the proud owner of a Garmin nüvi 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx, or 7xxT (where "xx" stands in for a two-digit number), visit www.garmin.com/nuvibatterypcbrecall to see if your unit is included in the recall.

On the good front, there's the catchily named Garmin-Asus nüvifone A50. (In the U.S., it's called the T-Mobile Garminfone.) As smartphones of every shade take on GPS capabilities, we've often wondered how GPS-makers like Garmin planned to compete. The nüvifone could provide some answers.

This isn't the first Garmin handset to hit the mobile market, but the nüvifone is faster and more technologically advanced than the others, and it's the company's new flagship model. Built on a custom version of Google's Android platform (1.6), it offers the same functionality as most Android phones, but with outstanding GPS functionality. The major difference between this handset and GPS apps from say, Google Maps, is that most apps used cloud-based mapping technology to route users where they want to go. But as with other Garmin handsets, the nüvifone's maps live within the phone, meaning that drivers stay on track, even when they're moving through areas with spotty cell coverage.

The folks at Gizmag recently did a very thorough review of the nüvifone, and Cnet posted an video preview in May (see below). Although it's not as pretty as some smartphones on the market, this could finally wedge Garmin's foot in the mobile phone doorway.

[WSJ, Gizmag]

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