DeLorme unveils ‘exciting’ GPS unit

Posted Jan. 08, 2010, at 6:32 p.m.
/The DeLorme Earthmate(R) PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)/
AP
/The DeLorme Earthmate(R) PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)/

Among the myriad gadgets on display at the behemoth Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is a device that the DeLorme mapping company of Yarmouth says represents a leap forward in hand-held navigation devices.

The DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w, which was unveiled Thursday in a partnership with electronics maker Spot LLC, won’t be available until spring, said marketing manager Charlie Conley. When it hits the market, though, thrill-seekers, professionals and anyone else with a need for global positioning capabilities for the first time will be able to communicate from anywhere on the globe.

Anywhere?

“Anywhere,” said Conley.

The device employs satellites for both telling users where they are — the traditional role of a GPS unit — and allowing them to communicate with text messages whether a cell phone signal is available or not.

“This is the first time we’ve been at the Consumer Electronics Show in a number of years,” said Conley. “That’s indicative of the magnitude of this breakthrough.”

DeLorme, known as one of the leading mapping companies in the country, has been building GPS units since the 1990s. DeLorme’s partnership with Spot LLC is the first time DeLorme has collaborated with another company on a GPS device.

“As prevalent as cell phones are, there are a lot of places they don’t work,” said Conley, who indicated he would value the opportunity to communicate with family members during his frequent hikes in the wilds of the White Mountains. “This is certainly one of our most exciting announcements in a number of years. It’s going to be a big peace of mind for my wife to get a text message from me saying I’m OK and on my way home.”

The introduction price for the GPS communicator will be around $550, said Conley, and users will have a range of annual subscription services they can purchase depending on what level of capability they want.

Caleb Mason, DeLorme’s vice president for sales and marketing, said the piece was unveiled Tuesday night during a private industry press event called “Digital Experience” at the Las Vegas Mirage hotel. Mason, in written responses to e-mailed questions, said the device has caused a buzz at the show, which this year is empha-sizing digital tablet readers.

“We have an enthusiastic fan base out here, many of whom are impressed to see us competing against Garmin, Microsoft and Google, knowing that we are a privately held Maine company, of all amazing things,” wrote Mason.

DeLorme was one of two Maine companies exhibiting at the International Consumer Electronics Show, according to event organizers. Representatives from the other, c-Link Systems Inc., of Norway, could not be reached for comment Friday. That firm focuses on robotics and high-speed fiber communications, according to its Web site.

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