UPDATE: Read our Garmin Astro dog tracking system review.
In perhaps the most surprising announcement from Garmin today, they unveiled their new Astro 220 GPS Dog Tracking System, and I just couldn’t resist leading with a picture of George and Astro from the Jetsons. I’ve placed an image of the actual Garmin Astro 220 below, after the jump.
Based on the incredibly popular Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx, the Astro 220 is designed for hunters with hunting dogs, or any kind of sporting dog you would want to track. According to Garmin, the setup actually has two components:
"The dog’s transmitter (called the DC 20) and the user’s handheld receiver (named the Astro 220). The DC 20 is mounted into a lightweight neoprene harness that straps to the dog’s collar, around its chest, and behind its front legs. Users can also thread the unit directly onto a standard one-inch collar (a third-party e-collar is recommended for proper mounting) so that the unit fits on the back of the dog’s neck.
The system requires very little configuration straight out of the box. Once the transmitter and receiver acquire a GPS signal, the receiver automatically lets users know the location of their dog. Unlike existing radio telemetry collars, the Astro features a dog page that shows the precise direction and distance to a dog – even indicating if it is running, sitting, on point, or treeing quarry – and does it all without the annoyance of beeper collars.
The Astro also has a map page to illustrate where a dog is and where it has been – in relation to the hunter – and allows hunters to determine if they have covered nearby ground. For even more detail, hunters can download their waypoints and tracks – as well as their dogs’ tracks – to MapSource® or Motionbased.com™ for analysis on topo maps or Google Earth after the hunt.
The Astro can track up to ten dogs per receiver at once, and the collar gives location updates as often as every five seconds. In flat, unobstructed terrain, the Astro transmitter and receiver have an effective range of up to five miles. Battery life is 17 hours on the rechargeable collar and greater than 20 hours on the receiver, which is powered by two AA batteries."
Here’s the full press release announcing the Garmin Astro 220, which is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2007. It will carry a sure to be discounted retail price of $642.84. Additional transmitters and receivers are available separately. Garmin has also put together an Astro 220 mini-site, devoted exclusively to this unit.