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Switched On: PNDs try to find their way

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

DNP Switched On PNDs try to find their way

From pitch pipes to voice recorders, the list of standalone devices that an unadorned smartphone can substitute for runs long. But the portable electronics products that smartphones have had the most impact on have been digital cameras / camcorders, portable media players and portable navigation devices (PNDs, although the Europeans did a better naming job with “sat navs”).

The future of PNDs looked rosier in the days when cellphone navigation services required a monthly fee. Google Navigation changed all that and much of the market was relegated to sub-$100, Black Friday-bought glove compartment hermits. But even as they’ve released smartphone navigation apps, companies such as Garmin and Magellan keep plugging away at the PND, trying to differentiate from the smartphone apps while cooperating with them.

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