Jan 20, 2010

Dear GPS

Dear GPS: Thank you! You're the reason I am writing this from my den at home, rather than wandering around the Orlando hinterlands trying to find I-4. I'd be lost without you. Literally.

I am probably the lowest of the low-techies, but even I enjoy a truly useful gadget that doesn't require a Ph.D. to operate. So naturally I was interested in the myriad of devices on display at the recent Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There were new computer tablets, 3-D phones with television, a new generation of ultra-thin HDTVs... the wealth of new stuff was staggering.

But still. The American population is aging. Maybe an e-reader with internet access and MP3 compatibility is a great idea and a design breakthrough -- but does the average American really need it? Want it? Operate it with ease? I would like to see more truly useful, cleanly designed gadgets targeted to the mature market. After all, more is not necessarily better. And simple is sublime.

To give the devil his due, there were a few items at the show that fit this bill. Clarity, for example, showcased a mobile phone that has a very loud speaker, and has only four large buttons, so operating it is very intuitive. Numbers can be programmed into memory, and the buttons act as speed dials, reducing the risk of people getting puzzled (or in my case, puzzled and annoyed) by numerous teensy-weensy keys that are the norm with most mini keyboards. A new class of hearing aids was also displayed that amplify sound more efficiently from telephones and tvs.

The experts project that this segment of the consumer electronics market is expected to grow, so stay tuned for next year's show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've gotten lost in a sea of technology. You are right. All I need is a couple of simple devices I can figure out how to use! A Jitterbug phone is perfect (no I don't need a camera, a million "aps", text messaging, MP3 player, a computer on my phone,etc. I want to be able to call the AAA when my car gets stuck! A cell phone to me is an insurance policy against being left along should I have car trouble. I do like my simple GPS also. It's a very helpful item when I travel. I see my grandchildren having these electronics that it would take (in my opinion) a Harvard graduate to figure out. Are they really needed? How did the world revolve before these devices were invented? I personally think we were a lot happier without all these fancy electronics. (except my cell phone and GPS!!)

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