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Review: Garmin Asus Garminfone

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All of the stock Google Android messaging options are available on the Garminfone, including support for Microsoft Exchange servers. The dedicated Gmail app is there, one of the few apps unchanged by Garmin Asus' interface overhaul. There's a separate e-mail app for Exchange, IMAP and POP e-mail service.

For text messaging, the Garminfone uses a nice looking threaded messaging view, which presents SMS messages in a conversational format like an IM chat. There are plenty of options to attach extras to a text message. You can quickly add pictures, videos, audio recordings, calendar events and location information. Location data comes through as a URL that opens a Garmin site with Google Maps embedded. It would have been nicer to simply open the real Google Maps app on phones that have the app available, since almost every platform offers some Google Maps support these days.

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Instant messaging fans get Google Talk on board, but if you want to use another service, like AIM or MySpace, you'll have to find a third-party download.

The keyboard on the Garminfone has been spruced up a bit over the stock Android flavor, but it doesn't offer any more functionality. It looks nice and polished, fitting in with the rest of the Garmin Breeze interface theme, but the size of the keys and the layout are nearly identical to any basic Android phone.

For social networking fans, the Garminfone comes with Facebook pre-installed, and the Android market has a nice selection of the most popular social apps available, including official Twitter and MySpace apps. Unfortunately, as I've said, Garmin doesn't integrate these apps into the phone any deeper than it must. You can easily send pictures and videos to a wide variety of sites and services, but the phone doesn't sync contacts with these networks, it doesn't offer any sort of unified inbox for messaging like you'll find on a BlackBerry device, nor does it offer any instant messaging for your favorite social app.

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