I am starting to come to my wits end when it comes to consumer electronics these days.Â Being a “gadget guy” that is saying a lot.Â Because, I like my electronic toys, and I always want them to have the coolest new features, and such.Â But today it isn’t about what makes the product better, it seems to be all about what you can tack onto the product, which only makes it more confusing, and many of these features are really of questionable value.
The first and most obvious today are mobile phones.Â Can we just have one that works, and works well?Â Is that really too much to ask?Â It doesn’t have to be a camera, an MP3 player or have 1.3 bajillion ringtonesÂ built in (with more available “starting from $1.99”).Â Yes, it should probably have a decent contact manager for the phone book.Â For gadget guys like me, the ability to sync it to my computer is a benefit.Â But it has to first and foremost make phone calls.Â Efficiently, clearly, and preferably with a decent battery life.
What really got me started on this, was my shopping for a Mother’s Day present this year.Â I decided, it was a good time to pick up a personal GPS system for TheWife’s car.Â With prices coming down dramatically over the past few years, it seems like a good idea.Â And with the ones available today that can be used walking as well as driving.Â Well, I just loved the idea.Â So, I started as any reasonable person would (I think), and started looking at reviews of the devices.
Now as prices come down, inevitably newer models come out offering this or that so that there can be new “high end” models.Â I understand that.Â But does that make “yesterday’s” models really any less reliable at what they do?Â Or any less valuable as a tool?Â I don’t think so, but apparently others do.Â As I am looking at these models, I start reading things like, “a ‘good’ model today must have the ability to show pictures, and good music software.”Â And I can’t help but to ask… “WHY????”
I want it to get me from point A to point B.Â I am not showing pictures of my daughter to neighbors on it.Â The car stereo can already handle MP3 files, or I can burn a CD from my downloaded music, or even better, the stereo has a port to plug in TheWife’s iPod.Â Why does the GPS player need to play music?Â I even ran across a reviewer that complained that none of the models he had reviewed had an integrated camera, and suggested to readers that this would most likely come in the next wave of models, and that “you should probably hold off on one until then.”Â Again, I was stunned.Â Why should I hold off, to get a more expensive model later, that will offer a subpar camera (I am already stuck with one of those in my phone) and pay a PREMIUM for the privilege to snap cruddy photos with a device that I purchased to get me to where I want to go?
Ultimately I settled on the Garmin C330 (review to follow once we give it a test drive).Â It is an “outdated” model in that it just does directions.Â How awful.Â It is simple to use.Â Easy to understand since it doesn’t have all the tacked on junk.Â And since it is “antiquated” by today’s newer models, rather than having to sink $800 or more into a device that does exactly the same thing, but offers features I don’t know anybody but places like PC Magazine reviewers desire.Â Nope, I will pocket the $500+ savings.Â Even, with the digital music player I am considering buying for myself, if I plunk down $250 for a higher end device, I will still save more than $250 over the “hot” devices, and get a better overall experience.
Maybe someday,Â (and I am not even really sure who to blame here, the manufacturers or the “experts”) they will figure out that when people want a mousetrap, they will pay more if you build a better mousetrap, but not necessarily so if you have the same mousetrap but it also plays music.