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Benefon Twig Discovery

 Benefon Twig Available April 2006
23rd February 2006
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Benefon are a Finnish company specialising in GSM handsets with inbuild GPS capabilities, and the Benefon Twig Discovery is the latest in their handset line. It's a much more consumer-orientated device that other Benefon handsets, many of which are aimed at business and industrial applications, and at first glance it looks like a fairly standard mobile phone.

However, the interesting feature with the Benefon Twig Discovery is the inbuilt GPS (global positioning system) combined with the "Twig Navigation" satellite navigation system (with data sourced from Navteq). Unlike many other solutions that combine a phone and SatNav system, the Twig range hasa completely integrated system, so there's no messing around with cables, paring devices and trying to get third party software to run. Benefon specialise in these sort of systems, so the overall approach looks very promising.

 Benefon Twig with SatNav The Twig Discovery comes with an SD card slot, and maps can either be downloaded via GPRS or installed with a memory card. This is a pretty similar approach to other SatNav systems, but it must be noted that this is a GPRS-only device so the download speeds are likely to be a little slow.. however, as with other SatNav systems, most people will probably use the memory card rather than a direct download to the device. The advantage of the integrated system here is that it's possible to pull live traffic reports and other information directly onto the Twig Discovery, and the satellite navigation system can then adjust your route accordingly.

Inside is an ARM9 processor running at 312MHz, similar to the CPU in TomTom GPS navigators. Internal memory is 32Mb with up to 1Gb of storage on the SD card. The display is a 176x220 pixel TFT panel in 256k colours measuring around 2" diagonally. The Benefon Twig is a tri-band GSM device, available in either 900/1800/1900 MHz or 850/1800/1900 MHz configurations, it also has Bluetooth, a WAP 2.0 browser and an email client, plus synchronisation with MS Outlook and Lotus Notes. It's a Bluetooth phone, and there will also be a variety of car kits available (which is handy for the satellite navigation function).

Primarily, the Benefon Twig Discovery seems to be aimed at people who want GPS wherever they go, and this handset is pretty convenient to carry around, being roughly the same size as a 3G phone. Compare this with a device such as a TomTom Go, which weighs 310 grams and you'd need a phone if you want to integrate live traffic information. It lacks the big, touch-sensitive display of the TomTom though, but overall it's a very convenient all-in-one package that should appeal to those people who don't want to lug a separate SatNav system about with them.

The price is interesting too - at an unsubidised cost of around €500, the Benefon Twig Discovery looks like it offers good value for money - especially when compared against "traditional" two-device solutions. The handset should be available from April 2006. In the UK it will be distributed by 20:20 Distribution.

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Benefon Twig at a glance

Available:

Q2 2006

Network:

Tri-band GSM

Data:

GPRS

Screen:

176x220 pixels, 256k colours

Camera:

No

Size:

Large candy bar
115x51x24mm / 128 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

Battery life:

7 hours talk / 5 days standby
5 hours satellite navigation time

 

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