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Sony's latest car sat-nav treads on iPod toes

Sony's NV-U2 GPS is sure to introduce a new age of slick sat-nav units.

The latest car sat-nav from Sony Japan is one of the first we've seen that looks less like a brick and more like the iPod-style media players the devices have been threatening to become for some time.

At ¥59,800 (£249), the NV-U2 isn't cheap, but it brings plenty of features to distract users from trivial matters like actually driving. Foremost among these are the ability to play back MP3 audio files through internal speakers or headphones and MPEG-4 video files on its 4.8-inch touch-sensitive screen.

More than the kitchen sink

At half the thickness of its predecessors, the U2 looks every inch the modern PMP when mounted on the dash and drawing power from the cigar-lighter socket. Admittedly, the 250g weight keeps its feet on the ground, but 87 x 145 x 20mm dimensions break new ground for high-end GPS navigators.

Internal memory of 2GB holds maps of all Japan as well as 10 million telephone-directory entries. The cherry on the cake is the inclusion, for the first time, of the PetaMap collaborative mapping service that allows user-generated routes of interest to be downloaded and introduced to the U2 by USB connection or on a Memory Stick.