Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm a Gadget Guy

One of the things I like to do is surf the electronic store web sites and dream of things that would be neat to have. (OK, OK, so I lust in my heart for them – and I know that statement got Jimmy Carter in trouble. See Playboy interview 1976.)

If you are out there and are wondering what to get me for Christmas, here is my wish list (my wife and kids sometimes read my blog):

1. GPS
I need this driving aid and I really wish I had it when I was still working and traveling all around the state. I need a GPS. Yes, I said NEED. Several reasons:
* I am old and old people get lost.
* I am a guy and guys don’t ask for directions.
* Cheryl gets mad when I pull up to someone on her side of the car and I tell her to ask for directions.
* I have chemo brain and, and, and…darn, I forget why else.

After much research and reading lots of reviews, I have narrowed it down to a Garmin Nuvi, but I still haven’t decided on the model number. I know I want, er, need wide screen, touch screen, spoken directions and spoken street names. But, do I want/need a model that also has traffic updates? Bluetooth wireless for hands-free phone calling? FM transmitter? Garmin Locate™ (marks position when removed from windshield mount so you can take it with you and then find your car in a mall parking lot? Auto-sort multiple destinations for most efficient route? MSN Direct for theater times, etc.? Voice commands? Garmin’s “Where AM I?” which finds the closest hospitals, police & gas stations? (I guess that is so you can gas up before heading to the hospital with a police escort.) MP3 player? Audio book player? Picture viewer? Some of these features might be nice to have, but why do I need to look at pictures while I am driving? Isn’t that kind of dangerous? Strangely, almost all of their models have this feature.

Actually, I just need to get from point A to point B without getting lost. It reminds me of my phone. It does all kinds of stuff, but I only use it to make phone calls. That is why it is called a PHONE! I disabled texting and the Internet. Why surf the internet on a one inch screen? I couldn't see it anyway. Of course this goes against my normal preferences because I usually like all the bells and whistles on my gadgets. But I also don’t like paying extra on an ongoing monthly basis for all those features.

The last two times we were in New York, we used my brother-in-law, Bill’s automobile and he had a Garmin Nuvi and we fell in love with it. We named the GPS “Thelma” because of the sultry female voice that guided us on our journeys. Now one time Thelma done did us wrong! We were coming back late at night on a trip of about 60 miles or so and I was blindly following Thelma’s directions. Whenever she said turn right or left, I did. We were on a semi-familiar road and Thelma said, “Turn left,” I did. Cheryl said she was pretty sure we should keep going straight, but I trusted Thelma. Well, the road quickly became narrow. After a couple more turns, there was snow. A rabbit ran across in front of us. Then a fox. Then a herd of deer. Cheryl thought she saw an armadillo but I knew that couldn’t be. I think it was an opossum. Or maybe a longhorn. I don’t know. I think I was hallucinating by then. Then the pavement disappeared and we were on rutted dirt, then we passed through a farmer’s yard, between his house and the barn. I thought we had been transported to rural Germany. Unfortunately the car was warning us we were very low on fuel. We had no cell phone service. I started talking and pleading with Thelma. Before we completely ran out of roadway (and gas), we came back on to the highway we had originally been on. When we first turned, Cheryl saw the name of the road we turned on to. Texas Valley Road. Thelma must have felt we were a little homesick in New York and needed a taste of Texas. I had to explain to Thelma that we live in a very metropolitan area of Texas and to stop doing us favors.


I want a 40 or 42 inch thin bezel LCD High Definition TV, preferably the new Sony W or Z series with the 120 Hz refresh rate, but the Samsung model is good too. I would go for larger, but our built in bookshelf with entertainment center will only accommodate a set’s frame that is 40 inches wide at the most. Now I could put a 60 inch TV over the fireplace, but it wouldn’t look good with the huge Christmas wreath hanging in front of the screen every year. I first thought I wanted a Plasma set, but the TV room has lots of windows and a Plasma TV has a very reflective screen. Since I watch TV during the day, I need a non-reflective TV screen. If you find a good deal on Plasma, I wouldn’t send it back.

3. Desktop Computer

I could use a new computer as I still haven’t replaced my desk top that is basically dead. Since I am lusting for…uh, dreaming of the HDTV, I might as well go with the multimedia desktop with a powerful quad-core processor, one terabyte hard drive, 6 to 8 GB RAM, powerful graphics card, TV tuner with DVR and remote control, wireless b/g/n, and a BlueRay DVD/CD write drive. It also needs a wireless keyboard and mouse so I can hook it all up to my new HDTV and sit in my recliner and surf the net or play my high def BlueRay movie collection which I also would need for Christmas. But as long as you are getting this for me, you might as well throw in a 24 inch high def monitor to put on my computer desk in the front room for those times I want to take the desktop back in there and just do serious computing. If you need the HP model numbers for these before you go shopping, let me know and I can give them to you.

4. Digital Camera

Next, I need a new digital camera. The one I have is very old, but takes very good pictures. The plastic hinge of the battery door is breaking and is barely hanging on. Once it totally breaks, it won’t operate because there is some connection that gets broken when the door latch is moved to open. However, the main problem now is that it got wet. When we came back from New York, I had it in my carry on bag in the side mesh pocket. I set the bag on the floor in our bedroom and it sat there for several days. Unfortunately, Snickers, my male dog, has a nasty habit of sometimes marking items that are sitting on the floor that are not normally there. Yep, he marked it. Yep, he marked it on the mesh pocket side of the bag. Yep, he got my camera. I have to teach him to mark with a pencil only. My computer magazine rates a Cannon as top choice in the price range I am looking. My current camera is a Cannon so I think I will stick with that brand.

5. Trifocals

Finally, even though it is not a tech gadget, this evening I discovered I really do need new glasses. When I checked the description of tonight’s CSI Miami, I read it twice and still read the same thing: “…a sausage killer runs rampant in Miami.” Eventually I figured out it was a “savage killer.” Much more exciting. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make my own appointment for an eye exam and the new spectacles. Then I can reactivate the Internet on my cell phone.

At Christmas I will still be happy with my new tie, new handkerchiefs, and new aftershave from my grandkids. I will continue to lust in my heart for my tech gadgets and ask for forgiveness.

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