What this is: This is a portable GPS unit, the Nextar ME. It is 0.7-in. thick. It has a 3.5-in. touch-screen display. It has 1.6-million points of interest. It provides audible turn-by-turn directions through a built-in speaker. It has MP3-playing and JPG-viewing capabilities. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery. The portable system weighs just 2.2 lb. The company providing this system, Nextar (La Verne, CA; www.nextar.com), is described as a “global designer and marketer of consumer electronics.”
Why this matters: Nextar “is a trademark and service mark of Nextar (Hong Kong) Limited.” Presumably, the GPS unit is produced in China. But here’s the kicker: It will be available in the spring of ’09 at a list price of $129.99. That’s right: GPS for $129.99. OEM-installed navigation units tend to be in excess of $2,000. While there is something to be said for having something in the dash rather than stuck on the windshield or other surface, the issue here is that even by the standards of other aftermarket navi systems, the price is plummeting. So the issue for OEMs is one of providing features that will retain some semblance of margins.