Sunday, March 05, 2006

poop and a GPS

I was innocently having lunch with a girlfriend of mine, catching up on each other's lives Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine, the kind that comes after a rainstorm in southern California, so we decided to take a table under a tree. We both ordered salmon burgers with fries, and as soon as I had my third bite, a pigeon decided to open his dastardly bombay doors and let us have one. He pooped on my food! Damn him. That pigeon is a bastard filled bastard of a winged bastard. There goes $7.50, my appetite, and $2 for parking. I wanted to hit that bird upside the head and say, 'why the hell haven't you evolved from this free-wheeling shitting foul?' Gaddamn!

So TomTom just released a new GPS for two-wheeled vehicles (ie. motorcyclists and scooter aficionados). They call it the TomTom RIDER, and it will retail for about a grand. Now being an ex-scooter and motorcycle rider myself, I thought, how awesome! Finally I can get directions for my lost-ass as I travel through the streets. The thing that stopped me in my tracks is this: the price. I can get another scooter for that kind of cash-money. Or I can just pull-over and ask for directions. Being on a bike allows you flexibility like stopping quickly, riding up on the sidewalk to accost a dog walker, buying milk without ever having to get off your ride. But I digress.

When TomTom designed the RIDER, they did think a couple things through that make this device really cool. For example, it is waterproof, so you can mount it on your bike and fa-ge-a-bou-it! But what happens when you park your bike outside a shady diner for a bite to eat? Well with this device, you can't just unmount and put in your glove, but I am sure it has an easy unmount - or at least I hope. I have not gotten to play with a model yet, as they haven't been released in the US.

The other thing is that the TomTom comes with a Bluetooth headset that speaks the directions into your helmet, so you aren't forced to look down at the monitor mounted on your handlebars. Sure that voice in your head may get jealous of the incoming competition, but I think with time, the RIDER's voice and your crazies will make friends, and you can keep those stealthy riding eyes on the road, or on your cell as your dialing....Not only that, but you need never fret about the volume at which that voice yells the directions at you. It intelligently adjusts as you speed up or slow down.

And if you're worried about riding your scooter with the hells angels in the sunlight, and not being able to see the RIDER, fret no more. The system comes with an anti-glare screen, so they can clearly see your embarrassing bike, and your need for directions. Those Hells Angels are so judgmental. This GPS does incorporate all the usual stuff, like integrated GPS antennae, multiple destination calculation, choice of route, and the touchscreen responds to glove contact as well, which is important for you riders. And when you want to get into a car, well the RIDER can come along too. It comes with a car mounting kit that allows you flexibility in your car as well. IF you're paying a straight G for this, it'd better dance for you too!

All right, I'll close this preview up with just a couple more words about the RIDER. It is impressive that the RIDER automatically switches from motorcycle glove mode to in-car mode. It allows you to make and take calls using the touchscreen, and it speaks over 30 different languages. I always liked that feature.

But alas, we'll see how well all these 'smart' features really work out if I get to play with one. I'll let you know when I do.


Here are the tech specs for the RIDER:
Integrated GPS receiver based on SiRF Star III with 20 Channel All-in-view tracking
CPU: 380 MHz
3.5 inch, 320 x 240 TFT colour LCD touchscreen
115mm x 92mm x 58mm, 310 grams
Internal rechargeable Li-Ion giving approx. 5hours
Operating temperature: - 10 to + 55 °C
Water resistant and protected against any wet weather conditions
(test: TomTom RIDER was subjected to a sustained jet of water at high pressure from all directions and suffered no harmful effects)
Battery Talktime: 5 Hours
Battery Standby: 250 Hours
Memory card (SD card) with software and maps
USB port and cable for PC connection
Bluetooth headset included for clear wireless spoken instructions
Alternative power source: 12V motorbike battery
Mounting kit (4 pieces) to fit most bikes and scooters