Sunday, September 13, 2009

iPhone 3G and Garmin Nuvi 265w

As one who has great admiration for technology companies who just NAIL usability, and who manage to develop highly technical devices that literally ANYONE can use, I have to hand kudos to those very few products that demonstrate that the user is their real focus. Here are a couple of standing ovations to two tools that certainly do what they claim, and do it better than right:

In the past couple of months we purchased Garmin Nuvi, followed by an iPhone. the Nuvi, which I had identified as my tool of choice years before, was all I had hoped and more. During a business trip back east, it functioned as my Bluetooth device because I accidentally forgot my Plantronics earpiece at home. Minus a few glitches because I didn't update my maps before I left (like the road to Chicago ending at a steel plant due to reconstruction, and the Indianapolis airport terminal moving last November), everything went quite well. I could step out of a courthouse, punch in an address, and off I went.

If there was traffic, I punched "Detour" and flew off at unmentionable speeds through random cornfields, arriving safely at my destination a short time later. When you are going full speed ahead during Chicago rush hour, you sit back and realize with some admiration that Garmin got it right. Really right. I have read the reviews for years, but our recent vacation was no exception. Garmin was great for helping us locate a variety of locations, including the Chapel so we could go to church on Sunday, and an autoparts store to add oil to J's oil-burning RX-7.

When my parents-in-law came for a visit in our complicated little maze of towns for a wedding, I punched in the coordinates of the reception and handed them the Nuvi. The next day I asked how it worked for them, and if they would like to use it again. Dad replied that it had worked very well. It helped them arrive at their destination, and helped them find a restaurant after the reception. In fact, it worked so well that they didn't need to use mine because they went out and bought one. 'Nough said?

Lest I sound like a bad commercial, the iPhone has been extremely fun, but also very useful. On our vacation I got sucked into a silly game that I played while C walked around the deck (my foot was killing me). The GPS functionality and maps were fantastic, and easy to use. Some of my fave apps include NPR news, which not only keeps me posted on topics of national interest, but also is a conduit to local radio stations.

I have had many smartphones, blackberries, Nokia N95, T-Mobile Shadow, Sony Erickson brick, Samsung Omnia (Verizon), but there is really no substitute. These other devices have similar programs and functionality, but when I have to sift through six menus to get to mobile Skype versus two taps on the iPhone, well, all I have to say is - time-saver, convenient, life-style adjustable . . . It helps me exercise, budget, write books, read scriptures, read/listen to books anytime, manage my work, keep in touch with family, manage my contacts, manage my shopping list, figure out what to make for dinner, find a movie to watch on the weekend, split a bill at dinner, find a restaurant, tweet, go to sleep at night, de-stress at the end of the day, watch the stocks, learn a new language . . .

Yes, there are tools that help you do this. There is the Internet. There are planners, and good old paper and pen . . . Having a personal trainer, phone, sleep therapist, huge library of books and music, nutritionist, linguist, time manager, and arcade (to name a few) in a EASY to use device the size of your palm . . . ? Well, life gets a whole lot easier and you can spend every minute doing something worthwhile.

I love to learn. It is like a hunger for me that is bigger and more insatiable than a desire for food, so I am eating up this excellent little tool for all it is worth. I have read more books in the past two months than I have in the past two years, and am exercising more consistently than I have in the past five. Worth every penny? Absolutely. AND I still get my unlimited data and minutes plan. (Ask me about that one some other time.)

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