Toshiba Puts Tokyo Drivers In The Catbird Seat

Paper road maps are a thing of the past for a few luxury car owners in Japan. When they become lost, help is as near as their dashboard-mounted Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which can pinpoint where they are by reading radio waves received from satellites high above. Although sales of GPS units in Japan have been slow due to lack of features and high prices, Toshiba Corp. thinks it has come up with enough bells and whistles to create real demand.

Toshiba's handheld Portable Navigation System, based on GPS components from Magellan Systems Corp. in San Dimas, Calif., shows drivers where they are on a digital map. It can also receive updates from various broadcast services in Japan that provide traffic and weather reports, and its full-color display can do double duty as a TV, just in case the car gets really stuck in traffic. Toshiba says the $4,784 system probably won't be sold in the U.S. until a market for it develops.


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