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June 24, 2004

Dept. of Too Damn Much Tech

Dear Vanessa --

My candidate for "Least-Needed Rental Car Feature":

Has anyone ever actually used one of these things to get to where they wanted to go? All I've ever managed to do with one is bruise my knee.



posted by Michael at June 24, 2004


In fact, I used one to find a casino last time I was in Chicago. Thank the Lord they didn't have a strip club category, or I would have lost money that night.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on June 24, 2004 1:35 AM

I have a female one with an incredibly sexy Flemish accent. Which has already lead to some weird conversations while I was on the phone, and she interrupted me with directions.

"Who is that with you then?"

But, it is reasonably capable to guide me around traffic jams and to get me in and out cities, both in my own country and abroad. It's okay.

Posted by: ijsbrand on June 24, 2004 6:50 AM

My brother-in-law and his family came to invade our personal space with a "family" visit, heavily leaning on the "Our lives are so much more interesting than yours" theme. Their rental had this feature. Every five minutes from their departure form the airport to their incursion into our home 40 minutes later, he called to let us know, thanks to this "feature", how closer they were to us and what theie ETA was. As this feature is now permanently associated with undesired visits, I've resolved to rent cars ONLY from companies not hawking them.

Posted by: DarkoV on June 24, 2004 10:15 AM

Michael you cowardly Luddite! (JUST kidding.)

Sorry, but I love these navigators. They not only get you where you want to go and teach you something about where you are along the way, they also give you something to play with after the first half-hour of driving.

Of course they're better when they're built in.

Posted by: John Massengale on June 24, 2004 12:57 PM

You guys are all much better with these devices than I am, I guess. I find using them unbelievably cumbersome, where I like futzing with paper maps. I do like the little plonk-plonk-plonk sounds they make, though. I wonder what percentage of people who rent these navigator-equipped cars actually make use of the navigators though. Extrapolating from me, I'd guess zilch. But extrapolating from you ....

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 24, 2004 1:24 PM

I'll chime in as another proponent, I guess. My wife and I weren't expecting to have the navigator in our rental car, and I was suspicious at first. But we were westerners (Denver) in New England (Boston/Hartford) for the first time, and I think that's why it was so useful. Not only are the interchanges strange, but the whole philosophy of highway building is disorienting. (Not to mention Denverites get lazy at navigation when the mountains are always to the west.) The navigator was invaluable for us and we figured out how it worked (ignoring all the fancy stuff) pretty easily.

I was surprised by the nuances it could communicate. It got us through quite a few hairy New England interchanges.

I wouldn't have one on my personal vehicle, because it's not as good as a trained human brain. But I'd consider it a substantial perk in renting a vehicle for a trip to an unfamiliar urban location.

Posted by: Chris Floyd on June 25, 2004 2:37 PM

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