Sunday, November 19, 2006

There are few things I love more than a cool new toy. By "toy", of course, I mean some tecno-gadget. They fascinate me endlessly.

One gadget I had been considering getting for a while is a GPS device for the car. I have been interested in GPS since my ex-roommate Taz wrote a college paper on GPS years ago. The prices for the portable car navigation systems have come down into the mid-hundreds of dollars, so I was considering picking one up at bonus time next year.

That was until today. A. and I decided to get new phones. Both our contracts had expired, and her phone was having trouble holding a charge. With the rebates they offer, it was actually cheaper to get a new phone than to get a new battery. So we went off to visit the good folks at Verizon Wireless today.

I had originally thought about getting a Motorola RAZR, since they seem to be all the rage these days. However, the reviews I found on the Web were mediocre at best. So I decided on an LG VX8600 instead. The picture on the Verizon Web site doesn't do it justice. It's very sleek and just as good looking as the RAZR. Reception seems good on the few calls I have made so far and the screen is very clear. The controls are as intuitive as cell phones get (that is to say, not very. When is Apple going to come out with that long rumored iPhone, anyways?)

So I'm happy with the phone, but I decided to try out the free 14 day trial on the Navigation feature. I had to drive my brother-in-law back to his house in Allston, so I plugged his address into the phone and off we went.

It really worked well. The phone calculated the most efficient route to get to his house from mine and gave me step-by-step voice instructions, warning me when a turn was coming up and even making sure I went the right way at major road junctions (like the junction of the Mass Pike and Route 128). I even threw it a bit of a curve. It correctly wanted to take me to the Allston/Brighton exit, which would be the shortest way. However, I wanted to take the Newton Corner exit to avoid the 75-cent toll at the next exit. So the navigation software recalculated the directions from the new exit without a hiccup.

Verizon charges $10/month for the navigation service. This is roughly 4 to 5 years of the cost of a dedicated GPS system that I would put in my car. I'm not sure if I will subscribe, though. They also offer a one-day service for about $3, and I could see using that for my occasional road trips into unfamiliar territory (like the trip to Hartford a couple of weeks ago). I could activate a monthly subscription if we were going on vacation for several days and would be using the navigation feature regularly. I can certainly see myself using it from time to time, in any event.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger The Hey said...

As I still love my RAZR, since you use Verizon you made the right call. On the RAZR, Verizon dumps Motorola's software with it's own cutting the number of features that phone provides in half.

Verizon actually does this on most phones which is why I do not use them.


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