I hate to disagree with my fellow tech journalist/blogger Stewart Wolpin, but I have no problem understanding why people by the millions are buying navigation systems. After TiVo and cell phones, a GPS/ PND, is one of the most useful CE products ever.
And this is why people spend hundreds of dollars on devices that give information that can be gathered for free off the web or from a map.
They stop family fights.
Yes, I am the proud owner of a Garmin 330c navigation device. It sits glowing on the dashboard of my minivan spitting out directions to wherever I happen to be heading. Even when I know the way by heart my little black box is happy to tell me where to go.
My wife was also more then willing to tell me, very loudly and colorfully, where to go one time when we were lost in the wilds of N.J. and that is why I bought my GPS. After spending an hour trying to discern one Valley Road from another and arguing over what to do I decided right then and there to buy a GPS.
And my life has never been better.
Yes, my Garmin is unnecessary for 95 percent of my trips, but it is worth it for those couple of times when you are totally lost and you can’t get help because you can’t read your map in the dark and the local gas station attendant’s English is worse then your Hindi.
Just punch in the address and follow the lady’s pleasant voice. (A couple who borrowed our GPS for a trip named the voice Majel, after Majel Barret. In case you are not a Trekkie, she was Gene Roddenberry’s wife and she did the voice of the Enterprise’s computer.)
It can also find a gas station, fast food place or hotel. All important things to have at the touch of your finger when driving around with two young kids.
It’s true the directions can sometimes be a bit confusing and the device will sometimes take a truly bizarre route to your destination, but the key is it will get you there eventually. And to me that is damn important and something you cannot always get with a map or Mapquest.
I’ve also discovered that Mapquest sucks. Yeah, I was thinking of coming up with a cute analogy, but simply stating that it is a terrible system is much easier.
So, I’m more then willing to let the GPSless go stumbling about the countryside, but you will not get my GPS until you pry it from my cold, dead hands. In fact not even then because I have no idea how to get around in the afterlife.