Jun 122010

I have mixed feelings about my GPS and recently changed the voice from Jane to John after a particularly testy exchange when Jane directed me into an industrial wasteland instead of a pub then kept insisting I perform a U-turn when possible.

The heated exchanges I have with Jane, however, pale in comparison to those exchanged with my latest project, the sixteen year old daughter who is learning to drive. Don’t you wish you were sixteen and knew everything too? This issue won’t go away – not in my house anyway; for every child you own / lease, there’s 120 hours of parent-teen bonding time to be faced before a P-plate can be issued.

This is where the LASER Navig8r i50 with “unique driver profiles” may come in handy. Instead of Miss 16 getting shirty with me when I remind her to keep under 80km an hour at all times, she can take it up with Jane. Good luck with that one.

The Driver Profiles means you can set up unique limits and logs. Set the profile to Learner, for example, and good old Jane will monitor the learner drivers’ speed against the signposted limit, maintain a driving log, display real time data on driving hours accumulated and percentage of driving time speeding. You can even print out a driving log report for presentation to your state roads authority. (Though I’m not sure if they will care, it’s nice to know you can.)

Also useful to track driving behaviour and speeds for P-platers borrowing the family car, and for truck drivers and business people who need to maintain a log book of driving hours and distances. You can enter the current speedometer and reason for trip at the start of each journey and the GPS will calculate time and kilometres and allow you to print reports.

This little beauty also has a SpeedAlert that tells you current speed limits, a large 5-inch LCD touchscreen with anti-glare and Bluetooth.

Bottom line: GPS with extra monitoring

Where:  www.navig8r.com.au

How much : Au $199

Jan 302010

All those years writing parenting articles and raising four, count-em (hang on, where’s the little one?!), four children have taught me an important lesson: there are just two kinds of kids, clingers and bolters.

I had four bolters. At one stage there, I had three children under the age of three who would each attempt a nine-minute mile towards three different compass points whenever I looked like I was thinking of standing still for a second.

If you’ve got one of those clingy kids, a permanent whining attachment to one or both of your legs – you can stop whining yourself, you really don’t know how lucky you are!

For the rest of us, for any parent who has run panic-stricken towards every unfenced water feature in a large park when their toddler has disappeared, for all those parents who were on first-name terms with the local police from when their kid could stagger – have I got a gadget for you!

It’s overpriced, it’s over there (the USA, where else!), it’s over-the-top – but as a bolter-parent, I have a sneaking fondness for it.

The Amber Alert GPS 2G is a small (child tracking device that allows you to keep track of your child via GPS. It’s quite small – less than 5 x 5 x 2cm.

It’s got fancy-schmancy website access with voice monitoring, info on the speed of travel, and instant location feedback with street address, latitude and longitude.

You can program ‘safe zone’ boundaries (like child’s room, or every room but his brother’s room, or the house and yard – you get the picture) and then, parents get an alert (email, SMS, whatever) when the device leaves the boundaries.

And herein lies a problem – unless your child remains attached to the device, all you’ll get is info about the device remaining stuffed in the bottom of the sock drawer for many hours.  The makers suggest attaching to a wrist, ankle or boot. I suggest superglue to shin.

The device is US-focused but claims to work in any of 120 countries, provided there is a GPS signal and cell phone reception.

Bottom line: A leash is cheaper …
How much : US $ 379 plus US $10 per month subscription

Jul 152008

If you’re a born luddite – or just a little on the tight-fisted side – and you’ve been lost any time in the last year, then you’ll be sick of being asked “When are you getting a GPS for the car?”
Or perhaps you’re sick of your other half constantly banging on about the dulcet tones of the ever-patient, wise and understanding Jane, who talks him through the directions to some place he’s probably been to dozens of times already.

For anyone, whatever the reason, who has resisted the exhortations of friends, family and colleagues to fork out hundreds of dollars for an irritatingly calmly-speaking electronic street directory, here’s the ultimate gadget.

The distributors promise that the Sat-Nag is a “joke that just keeps on giving.”

The Sat-Nag doesn’t perform any useful directional function, has no on-board map and doesn’t connect to anything at all.

The holographic screen glued to the front of the plastic gadget points to roads named Whiny Lane, Backseat Drive and Earache Avenue.

And press the button on the front and the random-nag generator will deliver a fabulous gem that can only have been written by someone who has been married a long, long time.

The rather well-spoken and ever-so patronising woman’s voice issuing from the Sat-Nag has a host of driving direction one-liners like: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 35 minutes now, so can you please admit you’re lost and ask someone the way.”

Other gems include “In 100 metres turn left. No right, err, no left. Sorry, I never can tell my left from my right,” or even “In 50 meters I’m going to put on my most annoying voice and say ‘Is your short cut really faster when we get stuck in traffic like this, well, is it darling?”

You can only buy it online from the UK, so order now for the perfect Christmas gag gift.

Where: www.iwantoneofthose.com/gadgets-gizmos/sat-nag
How much : About Au $16.50 plus freight