January 19, 2005

Garmin iQue 3600a

Garmin has unveiled a new GPS gadget, the iQue 3600a. It's a Palm device with GPS capabilities and a bunch of aviation-related software. It looks great, if you ask me, although it's a little bit pricey at $1100.

I've been on the lookout for a GPS device lately, and the best candidate so far was the Garmin GPSMAP 296. The iQue has all the functions a regular Palm has, such as adress book and calendar, which, in my opinion tilt the balance against the 296 (plus the fact that the latter costs $1700).

From the specs I couldn't see anything significant in the 296 that's missing in the iQue. In fact the iQue features a nifty 16-bit color screen (65536 colors) vs. 296's 8-bit (256 colors) screen.

For in-cockpit and outdoors use the 296 may be more robust (better shock resistance, weather-proof, longer battery life), but for regular day-to-day use, the iQue seems like a great contender.

Finally, I'm sure Garmin will make an SDK available for the 3600a soon. It's available for the 3600, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't already support the 3600a, so it may just be a matter of certification. The device runs PalmOS and the iQue 3600 page claims that all GPS-related functions are available to third-party software. Sweeeet!


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