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Review: Garmin Asus Garminfone

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Most Android phones so far have specialized in social networking, but the Garminfone takes a different tack to become the best navigation phone I've ever used. Even with the slight problems I had with the GPS signal (I do NOT live in Kentucky), once the phone found my spot, it had no trouble navigating through trips and helping me find nearby points of interest. The interface for navigation is much better than on any other phone I've used, almost identical to a Garmin portable nav device. Plus, between the extra apps Garmin provides and the excellent selection of location-based apps available from the Google App Market, the Garminfone offers the most robust platform for travelers, whether you're going near or far.

What surprised me was how much I liked the Garmin Breeze interface. It wasn't as customizable as the stock Android interface, and it lacked all the shortcuts and many of the features of the basic Android design, let alone HTC's excellent Sense UI. But it still looked very polished and clean, and I appreciate the way Garmin has simplified many of the features to avoid pop-up menus and hidden features. Everything you need is right up front, easy to tap quickly on the go.

There are some areas where the Garminfone is sorely lacking. The camera, though fine for its class, is heartbreaking for a phone so well-suited for globetrotters. Messaging features were just average, while the music player doesn't even measure up to the basic Android app. Battery life also should have been much better, though I appreciate the included car charger, which helped me keep the battery full while I was navigating.

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It's too bad T-Mobile's Garminfone and Verizon's HTC Incredible can't mate and have perfect little children, but for the right user, the Garminfone is worth some sacrifice. If you really want a quality navigation device that's also a quality smartphone, the Garminfone is no slouch in either department. Just remember to bring your own camera, and maybe an iPod for some tunes.


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