keeps you on the road out of the office
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
June 19-25, 2007; issue 921
High Tech Office
most of us take some time off during the summer, few of us entirely
leave our personal high-tech offices behind. A recent AP-Ipsos poll
noted that many vacationers checked e-mail and phone messages, with one
in five toting laptops along on their holidays.
Over the next
weeks, I’ll be presenting some of the gadgets I’ve been checking out to
let you make the most of mixing business with pleasure.
increasingly high cost of gasoline doesn’t seem to be keeping too many
people from long drives, but it’s more expensive than ever to get lost.
GPS devices are built into some new cars, but portable GPS models can
be added to older models or taken with you on holiday or on business
trips to show you where to go in a rental car in an unfamiliar city or
I’ve had the use of a TomTom Go 910 ($599), a portable
GPS unit that has a four-inch wide screen, which is larger than
competing models and mounts easily on a car’s windshield.
got a built-in 20-gigabyte hard drive to store maps (U.S., Canadian and
European maps are pre-loaded) and offers a choice of 36 languages for
You get a choice of more than 50 voices and can buy
additional celebrity voices. (Mine include virtual Mr. T and Gary
Busey). Text-to-speech technology lets it read out street names in your
selected voice instead of generic “turn right in 100 metres” messages.
However, this feature works only with the built-in computer-generated
voices, and not with optional “actual” human voices. So you won’t get
Mr. T telling you to take a right on Burrard Street.
built-in battery lasts about four hours or it can be plugged into a
wall socket or car lighter. Conveniently, the adapters, and power
adapters for a range of different countries, are included.
could just use it to show street maps that update as you drive, but
more useful is to enter your destination. Data entry is via the touch
screen and a virtual keyboard. The only physical control is the power
button. You can set it to give you directions for the fastest route,
the shortest route, to avoid freeways, ride a bike or more. A point of
interest (POI) database lets you find gas stations, restaurants and
more along the way. As you drive, there’s a “find alternative” icon,
which can be tapped if you want to veer off the device’s suggested
route. Within a few seconds you’ll be offered a different way to get to
About 12 gigabytes on the built-in hard drive
is available to store such things as music and audiobook files and
photos, which allows the TomTom to double as an MP3 player or picture
viewer. Connected to a Windows or Mac computer, it appears as an
external drive, making it painless to transfer files back and forth.
(Connecting it to your computer also allows you to pre-set your
destination more easily than tapping on the unit’s virtual keyboard.)
its built-in Bluetooth connection, TomTom can be used with some
cellphone models for hands-free calls, though I was unable to test that
feature. With a compatible cellphone, it can also be used to access
extra (and extra-cost) features such as real-time traffic and weather
information. (Note that time spent using these features also gets
billed to your cellphone plan.)
There have been complaints
online that the weight of the unit causes problems with the gooseneck
windshield mount, and that accessing some functions takes too many taps
on the touch screen. But the clear display, larger than average screen
and wealth of pre-loaded voices and maps makes the TomTom Go 910 a
useful way to keep from getting lost whether on business trips or