TomTom's Portable Navigation Device: Dash Revisited?

tomtomAT&T (s t) is continuing to move into the connected-devices space with the new TomTom XL 340S LIVE, but the gadget’s $300 price tag — and $10-a-month service — will likely prevent it from gaining much traction. There’s a lot to like about the GPS-enabled navigation device: It delivers real-time traffic information, gas prices and weather, and it features Google’s (s goog) Local Search. And it underscores AT&T’s eagerness to expand its business of adding network connectivity to consumer devices, which is quickly becoming a pillar in mobile carriers’ business models.

AT&T also is rumored to be the carrier behind Garmin’s upcoming nuvifone, which will compete with TomTom’s new device. It’s difficult to see many customers ponying up that much cash for a stand-alone device, though, when sophisticated, multimedia-friendly handsets such as the Palm Pre or iPhone 3G can be had for less than $100. Although TomTom’s new device is optimized for use behind the wheel — with its big screen and colorful display — and the price includes three free months of service, I’m not convinced that justifies what amounts to a $510 handset (including two years of service) for navigation purposes alone. After all, a knockout device wasn’t nearly enough to save Dash Navigation, which was acquired a few months ago for a mere fraction of the $71 million it raised from venture investors. We’re quickly entering the age of connected consumer gadgets, but there’s not a ton of demand for pricey navigation devices when today’s smartphones can do the job pretty well by themselves.