Dell’s Mini 10 (s DELL) netbook is gaining a smartphone-like feature with an optional internal GPS card. It’s called the Dell Wireless 700, but the card is actually a Broadcomm A-GPS solution that leverages Skyhook Wireless for Wi-Fi positioning. This hybrid solution adds location-awareness to software applications on the netbook. In fact, two apps are supported and included with the Wireless 700: CoPilot and Loki Dashboard.
CoPilot from ALK is likely familiar to mobile device owners as the company has provided its service for handsets for years. Just yesterday, it added Android support for its mobile application. CoPilot offers both 2D and 3D navigation, trip optimization, route recalculation on the fly, and real-time traffic. Loki Dashboard is a browser plugin for Internet Explorer and Firefox, to help localize web searches, social gatherings and more. With today’s release of Firefox 3.5 and its own internal location-awareness features, you probably don’t even need the Loki plug-in for some sites. I tested Loki from my MacBook, and after just a few seconds, it quickly found my general location using my Wi-Fi network, and it provided me with localized news, weather and dining suggestions. Very useful, and it supports the LBS drum I’ve beating for some time.
Dell says its Wireless Solution 700 will be available on the Mini 10 netbook in the U.S. starting next week. Initial support will be on Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, although Windows 7 support will arrive later. I don’t see a price for the option, but Gadling pegs it at $69 for the mini-PCIe hardware and accompanying software. At that price, I’d consider it a reasonable upgrade option since the Mini typically runs around $349. In my mind, netbooks make for a better GPS solution than bulkier notebooks: The smaller devices are more likely to be carried around, and they typically offer better battery life, all things being equal.