(STAR) By Kathy Moran - Have you ever been lost? Have you ever needed a map? Have you ever used a map?

Well, if the number of launches of cellphones is anything to go by, then cellphones with built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) seem to be in vogue. And this means that the age of map-reading for Pinoys has arrived.

This holds true at least for Nokia with its newest cellphone baby, the Nokia 6110 Navi phone, which features on-board GPS navigation capabilities.

According to Nokia, GPS operates in combination with a technical framework that allows third parties such as telcos to reduce the initial time needed for the device to calculate its current position and is especially useful in urban areas.

Lots of words, right? Well, what this means is that if the mobile service providers see that people will start using their cellphones to get from here to there then we will soon be able to use our cellphones like a map and then some more.

OK, OK, so hereabouts the GPS is not something that works. There are no telcos that have GPS functioning. Although it is possible to download maps of the Philippines using the Asia Navi phone program, let me say that they donít work here like the GPS systems work in the US and Europe.

But then again thatís not to say that we can blame the telcos. The road network system in Metro Manila is not one of the easiest to navigate around. Also, we might add that Filipinos are not really map-readers or users. Really, everything here is either a tricycle, pedicab or jeepney ride away. How many Pinoys do you really know who walk ó two, three ó and if you go via pedicabs, tricycles or jeepneys your sure ainít gonna get lost. Why use a map?

But the Finnish company has made the built-in GPS navigation the highlight of the Nokia 6110. Thereís a one-touch navigator button below the directional keypad. The unit has on-board speakers on the rear, which are loud and clear. This means that if you were driving and you needed to hear the directions on the map, you could do that really easily. It is quite difficult to read the phone while one is driving, right?

There are also options that show you the shortest distance between two points. And, based on the reading, one could opt to go one way or the other to get to a destination, at the fastest possible time.

Aside from the GPS function, the Nokia 6110 is another cool slider phone which is built rather sturdy-like. I found it easy to view the maps which were loaded onto the phone while I was driving, and I thought it would be great in a country where GPS worked.

Connectivity-wise, this quad-band Navigator is 3G and HSDPA which means it is capable of reaching speeds of up to 3.6Mbps when you go on the Net to surf. We wonder, however, what happened to the wireless LAN? Then again, you canít have everything in one phone, right? It is Bluetooth-capable and has push e-mail, in addition to a message reader function that reads e-mails or text messages aloud.

I love this read-aloud function on the Nokia phones. It is funny to listen to that male robot-like voice that tries to read a shortened or abbreviated text message. If I am driving I get more confused as to what the message might be, and then when I do get to read the text, I laugh. But the funny thing is, after getting used to listening to that robot-like voice read text messages several times I sort of get the hang as to what is being said and get the message ó without reading it.

Other standard features are the customizable My Own key with a mini-B USB port and microSD (up to 2GB) expansion card slot on the left spine, a two-megapixel camera at the back with a sliding door to protect the lens and integrated flash, plus a second shooter above the 2.2-inch QVGA screen for video calls.

The 6110, which comes in either black or white, feels solid with a sliding mechanism that spells assurance. Though like the Nokia 8800, retracting the top lid produces a loud metallic clack.

Nokia says the phone has a talk time of 3.5 hours and up to 11 days on standby.

The 6110 Navigator looks attractive and compact enough to appeal to drivers or frequent travelers. It comes with built-in GPS and A-GPS (assisted GPS) modules and the mapping software needed to make them all work. The device will be able to tell you where you are, where the nearest points of interest are, and how to get to the destination of your choice.

It can provide turn-by-turn voice instructions and on-screen turn indicators to aid in use while driving. Another tip to drivers is the new mail application that can actually read your e-mail so that you donít have to take your eyes off the road. Neat.

For now, although the Nokia 6110 seems to be the road map to the future of cellphones, here in the Philippines it seems its time has not yet come. I am quite happy, though, that it has the usual ringtone and wallpaper options which make it personalizable as what all the other Nokia phone models are known for.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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