New Garmin nüvi 1690 includes 2 years of free online services and lots of exclamation marks

GPS units are announced almost every day – but this newest unit from Garmin immediately grabbed my attention. It is the the first “connected GPS” unit from Garmin, which means the device has a built in cellular modem, allowing it to connect to the Internet and grab real time data, instead of relying on an (often outdated) internal database. Current Garmin units can only receive data in one direction.

The nüvi 1690 uses the new Garmin nüLink! (gotta love! names! with exclamation marks!). NüLink! provides access to online Google searches, traffic, weather, fuel prices, local events and whitepage telephone listings.

In addition to this, the nüvi 1690 provides some basic social networking using Ciao!, the new Garmin location based social networking portal.

Now, Garmin is by no means the first to introduce a connected GPS unit, but they are the first to introduce one that comes with 2 full years of free online service. After this, service is only $5 per month. Other units like the now defunct Dash Express wanted $12.95 for each month, so Garmin clearly did their homework picking the perfect price point for their service.

It is obvious that connected GPS units are the future – and at first glance, the nüvi 1690 looks like a true winner – its initial $499 purchase price is a little on the high side, but still in line with what most other high-end GPS units cost, even though this one contains a cellular data modem.

It is on schedule to be released in the fourth quarter of this year, which means it should be available just in time for Christmas.