>Gadgets and Gizmos I Go Gaga Over

>A little while ago, I signed up to the Top Tech Tidbits for Thursday newsletter. The thing is neat because you get updates about stuff when the stuff is pretty new, and there are a lot of links crammed into that newsletter because he gives only brief descriptions about each link, so you can zoom zoom zoom through them and decide what you want to click on and check out in more detail.

Anyway, ever since I signed up, I’ve thought a lot more about all the cool technology I would like if I had unlimited dough, which has made me sad because I likely won’t see any of it. Dont get me wrong, I have everything I need. This stuff would just be neat. You’d be surprised I’d be drooling over tech considering my history with the stuff.

First, there’s the whole GPS thing. Sometimes I just want to know how far something is from where I am, or how many streets I’d have to cross, and it’s neat to have the things you’re passing being read off to you as you go and find out new stuff about what’s around you. MapQuest can give me the number of miles, but they don’t tell you about every street you cross, so their directions are no good to me. I don’t want a Trekker because I was able to try one, and found it to be very persnickety, easy to freeze, had too many visual only indicators and there were too many parts. Plus the one I want is $2500. Uh, nope. I don’t think so. I thought about two GPS solutions for the cellphone. There’s Wayfinder Access and Mobile Geo. They go on your cellphone and the only extra piece of technology you need is a GPS receiver, but if you had a sophisticated enough phone, you could use its built-in GPS receiver. Let’s yea and boo each of them, from what I’ve learned. I haven’t been able to try out either of them.

For Wayfinder Access, yea: it’s only about $200 U.s. I would have to know it worked well, but I’d have an easier time paying that than $2500.
Boo: The way it downloads maps is through your phone’s internet connection, and so you’d have to have a data plan. Data plans up here are expensive as far as I can tell. Anybody got any good leads to a Rogers data plan that doesn’t murder your pocketbook?

For Mobile Geo, yea: the maps are on a card so you don’t have to worry about the data plan.
boo: It only runs on Smartphones. I have a symbian-based phone, and if I decided to switch to a smartphone, I would have to get a whole new screen-reder for the phone, as the one I have is for Symbian-based phones only. I’ve heard rumblings that they will support Smartphones soon, so that may be an unimportant boo.
yea: the GPS part is made by Sendero Group, and I’ve never heard a bad thing about Sendero, and you know how I feel about Mike May. Not that a book should convince me to buy the dude’s product, but he tested this shit out from the get go. He relies on this himself. That’s a pretty good endorsement. Plus I got to see it read off bus stops when I was up at the GDB reunion, and if it could give that detailed information up here, that would be cool.
Gboo: It costs $845 U.S. according to Sendero.

So as you can see, each has pretty significant yeas and pretty significant boos, and they all sound really, really cool. And I drool. And I drool. And I drool some more. I read the reviews. And I drool. Yup, it’s dumb.

The other piece of technology, also for the cellphone, is called the KNFB Reader Mobile. You install it to a phone that has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and a xenon flash to get the best image possible, so you need either the Nokia N82 or the Nokia 6220. Then you take a picture of a document, a shampoo bottle, a street sign, some people even say a computer screen, whatever you want that has print on it that you can’t read, and it will scan it and read it back as text. How friggin unbelievably cool is that? How many times have I had papers in my bag when I’m cleaning it out and wondered what they were and thought “If only I could somehow get a scan of the paper right here. If only I didn’t have to take it over to a computer with a scanner and scan it.” How many times have I gone to meetings and heard the words we all dread. “Now, here are some handouts…sorry, I couldn’t email these to you…” It would be like having eyeballs on demand!

Yea boo time: Yea: The N82 also has a built in GPS, so I could use it for both the KNFB reader and Wayfinder Access.
Boo: It in itself has to be bought from a third party vendor and costs about 500 bucks Canadian. Eek! Add that to the price of the KNFB reader, $995, and it’s a big nope.
Yea: the optical character recognition comes from Kurzweil, so I’m sure it’s awesome.
Boo: I’ve heard so much positive and negative feedback about the product thatI would like to demo it before I buy it…but it’s really hard to test this product before you’ve already invested significant dough. I mean, You have to buy a suitable phone before you can even demo the product.

So I drool. I drool and I drool and I drool. And every Thursday, I hear bits about each of these things, and I drool some more.

I’m sure I sound like a big whiner. I know why tech for blinks is so expensive, because we’re such a small market etc. It just burns my butt when folks can get a regular GPS for 300 bucks and be set to go, and always the cost of their tech comes down, while ours remains frozen at the initial price. I know the KNFB reader mobile is a lot cheaper than the KNFB Reader that was put on a PDA years ago, but it probably will remain hovering at that $995 mark forever…or until it is rendered utterly obsolete, i.e. they don’t make the parts for the N82 anymore and nobody knows what it is. I am really happy that stuff is being made to go on mainstream devices like mobile phones. At least then if the program doesn’t work, you don’t have a paperweight. You can use it for other stuff. I just wish everything wasn’t so expensive.

The one thing I will say is that these things are a lot closer to drooling over than technology from before. I’d see the price of a Trekker and go, “that would be nice, but I’m no millionaire.” I look at this stuff and go…”Do they have a payment plan? Could I swing it if I managed to get a job that actually lasted more than a week? Do I want to demo it?” This is why I drool over these, where I would just think about the old ones in passing.

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