July 7, 2006 4:03 AM PDT

Postmortem on a gadget-filled Road Trip

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(continued from previous page)

I kept meaning to try the Globalstar phone again, to give it another try, just as I had intended to give the Garmin car navigation system another go, but I was moving too often and working too hard, and in both cases, I never got around to it. The competing gadgets worked too well.

Globalstar spokesman Dean Hirasawa said he was not able to diagnose the problem on the spot and would look into it. I will likely blog the company's answer if and when I get one.

The star of the trip gadgetwise, though, had to be the MacBook Pro that Apple Computer had lent me.

A MacBook surprise
Now, I own a PowerBook G4, so I'm very familiar with Mac OS X and the functionality of Macs in general. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the MacBook Pro's battery life, its durability under sometimes extreme conditions--hot and cold temperatures, high altitudes--and the operation of its built-in iSight camera and its remote control.

My only complaints about the MacBook Pro are that it sometimes got very, very hot on its underside, much more so than my PowerBook, and sometimes it seemed unable to handle playing back DVDs with even the smallest smudges. That had never happened to me on my PowerBook.

Another star was my Canon PowerShot G2 camera. This is a camera I've owned for four years, and even now it performs like a champ. That's not to say I wouldn't like a newer and better camera--and in fact, I intend to get one soon enough--but during the course of the trip, I took more than 1,200 pictures using just three batteries and one single 512MB CompactFlash card. The camera never let me down, whether I was on top of a mountain, or holding the PowerShot just an inch above the surface of a stunning Oregon hot spring.

I also had a great time using my new Video iPod. As with the camera, this is my own device and not a loaner, and I have to say I'm ecstatic that I finally got one of these sleek black wonders.

There's really not much to say about it: It played songs flawlessly, and when I had the chance to watch videos--either episodes of " Rocketboom" or of "Inside the Actors Studio," I was always impressed with the video and sound quality.

I had also brought along my Sony PlayStation Portable, but I never got around to using it. At the end of long days of driving, reporting and writing stories and setting up camp, I found myself much more interested in watching episodes of "24" than in playing games.

Anyway, being back in an office and not behind the wheel of a car is an odd thing. I'm now surrounded by desktop computers, flat screen monitors, sophisticated office telephones and things like staplers and refrigerators.

And while it's comforting to have those conveniences close at hand, I still feel an urge to grab my box full of gadgets, hop in my Subaru and get back on the road.

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satellite phone, Magellan, Garmin, Garmin Nuvi, gadget


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Nuvi 350
Oh c'mon -- the antenna on the Nuvi is mentioned in the instructions and shown on the pictures. It's a great compact GPS. I just finished a trip all throughout New England with it and it performed great.
Posted by brownki (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My own road trip...
I used my Garmin eTrex Legend hand-held GPS and it performed
flawlessly (I bought it two years ago to assist on an RV trek
across New Zealand and it was fantastic), as usual.

My 4-year-old 10GB iPod supplied some audiobook relief on the
10-hr drive (it likewise came in handy on a weeklong Route 66
trip when I first bought it), as well as some Gottlieb video pinball
on my PSP (which my wife soon became obsessed w/, I must
add). No movies were watched...all listening while watching
scenery or something to keep the brain in slow forward motion.

Alas, even w/ all that electronic distraction, I even found time to
read the newspaper. Gasp, the analog horror ;)!!
Posted by shanewalker (57 comments )
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Nubie using Nuvi?
I'm a bit confused by the author's inability to realize what went wrong. I purchased my first GPS a few weeks ago and poured over the choices to finally select the Nuvi 350. Within five minutes I had it all setup and, being in an office, couldn't get any directions as it displayed the fact that it couldn't receive a satellite signal. The manual mentions the antenna continually and correctly but anyone with a shred of common sense would understand that basic technology behind the device. You must acquire satellite signals to alloow the device to know where it is. No signal = no directions or, as must be the case with the Nuvi 350, it assumes HQ is its current position. Didn't you think to check the satellite signal strength that is displayed in the top left corner. Who let this guy out of the office?

Seriously, this device worked perfectly well in South Florida, Boston, New Hampshire and is easy to use, responsive to missed turns (we missed them puposefully to hear it say in a slightly annoyed turn "Recalculating"... someday it might say 'Idiot if you can't follow directions, get out of the car!') clear graphics and safety protocols that can be turned off.

Overall a great GPS that anyone can enjoy if they read the manual and use their head!
Posted by DatabaseDoctor (858 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I absolutely agree. I hardly had to even read the user's manual. Just open it up and go. Every picture shows that you have to pop up the antenna!
Posted by brownki (2 comments )
Link Flag
great article - very interesting road trip
You guys should do more of this type of thing. It's both interesting
and helpful to read about how these gadgets work out the in the
real world!
Posted by info (1 comment )
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