Back in October, I think, Toney and I purchased a GPS device, as an early Christmas present to ourselves. We’d been considering one for a long time, and had performed the standard assload of advance research.
We wanted one that actually tells us the street names and exit numbers. “Turn left in .6 miles” is a recipe for confusion and shouted profanity, I believe. Especially if you’re driving in a city, with many left turns to choose from. Point six miles? What am I, a surveyor?
And we needed one which covers Canada, for our occasional Nancy visits. Many of the less-expensive models only work in the “lower 48” and Puerto Rico (for some reason). That simply wouldn’t do.
We also had a bias toward the Garmin brand. I think one of us read in Consumer Reports they’re the best, and that’s all we needed to know. We would have to buy a Garmin.
So, we had our short list of requirements, and eventually zeroed-in on this particular model. It seemed to be the system with the lowest price point, which does everything we wanted it to do. Now it would just be a matter of watching the sales every Sunday, and being prepared to strike.
Target had it for $250 at the time, and that’s what we used as our reference. When Circuit City advertised it for $199, we almost took the bait. But I thought we could do better, and decided to gamble. And it paid off. A few weeks later they offered it for $179, so we pulled the trigger.
And yesterday, almost two months later, we finally took it out of the box… Perhaps we didn’t really need a GPS, after all? Probably not, but that’s not really the point, is it? Gadget fever had taken hold and, mister, a person would be wise not to fight gadget fever.
I wanted to go to Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre yesterday, and Toney decided to let the “new” GPS guide us. Of course we didn’t need its help, but wanted to see the thing in action. Before we left the house Toney plugged-in the store’s address, and we were off.
A British woman was our guide, and she immediately told us to enter the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Why? MapQuest does that, as well. If I pulled up directions to the Rite-Aid near our house, MapQuest would tell us to merge onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike, drive to the first exit, get off, get back on traveling in the opposite direction, and come back to where we started. Then go to Rite-Aid from there.
So, I ignored her advice and she let out an exasperated, “Recalculating!”
Before we’d driven half a mile, Toney noticed it wasn’t giving us street names. It was doing that “250 yards” crapola, which is exactly what we didn’t want. What the hell, man?! No way our research could be wrong. We’d been fully Matchstick Men with it.
Beyond that, however, it worked well. It took us right up to the front door of the bookstore. And while we were driving Toney could push buttons and find out what restaurants were nearby, as well as gas stations, ATMs, and other places of interest. Pretty cool.
But the lack of street names was a big deal. It gnawed at me, and caused me to squint ‘n’ mumble. We’d been sure. Sure, I tell you!!
After we got home Toney started reading the user’s manual, and found out street names and exit numbers are only available with certain “voices.” We’d gone with a generic British voice, but if we’d chosen “British Pamela” or “British Brad,” or whatever, we would’ve gotten the street names. The generic categories are limited, for some reason.
Weird. Toney chose Pamela, and went out in the car to see if it would work. And it did.
I don’t really understand… Why would they offer categories of “voices” with limited functionality? And what’s the difference between “British male,” and “British Brad”? It makes no sense to me. Does Garmin build-in confusion, to keep their help desk busy? I simply don’t know.
But we (Toney) figured it out, and that’s the important thing. Apparently we’ve got a specific male and female to choose from, one each from America, England, and Australia. Those are our English-speaking options.
I wish they’d get a little more creative with it, if you want to know the truth. It’s a tad limited for my tastes. Perhaps we can help? Maybe we can brainstorm and come up with a few additional voices to spice up the Garmin family of GPS devices?
Want to offer our services? Excellent. I’ll get the ball rolling with a few suggestions of my own, and you folks can take it from there.
Here are some GPS voices I wish were an option:
- Sassy black woman
- Old Southern Senator
- ‘80s metal falsetto
- Billy Mays
- the Xhosa click language
- electronic hick who makes announcements on Atlanta subway
- Waffle House waitress (“Turn left, hon”)
- Obese man with fat pressing against his windpipe
- Chinese national using an ElectroLarynx
- small market DJ doing a Jack Nicholson imitation
- man with his foot caught in a bear trap
- Dairy Queen drive-through
- if Barry White had been from Minnesota
Those are just a few off the top of my head; I’m sure you guys can do much better. Use the comments link below, and maybe we can fix this ongoing problem, once and for all?!
See ya next time.