Our friends Ron and Brenda Speidel call me Gadget Boy, because I always want to check out the newest electronic gizmos. But I have an excuse; I want to be able to tell all of our great readers about them, both the good and the bad. At least that’s what I tell Miss Terry when she rolls her eyes at me when I start salivating over some new toy.
I write about the things when I try them out, but I get a lot of questions from readers asking how I feel about something down the line, after I’ve used it for a while. So here we go, we’ll call this the Gadget Boy Report.
Blackberry Storm – I’ve been using this “smart phone” since last summer, and I have a love-hate relationship with it. Being able to access my e-mail anywhere I am during the day, and respond if necessary, is wonderful. The phone saves me a lot of time and trouble with just that feature alone. The text display and keypad are both large enough to read and use easily, unlike many cell phones I have seen. It has features and applications that can do a number of great things that I could appreciate, if I only had the time to learn how to do them.
The biggest downside for me is that the darned phone is almost worthless anytime I’m any distance from a cell tower. The signal is just too weak. At the Escapees RV park in Summerdale, Alabama, we were maybe four or five miles from town, at most. Terry’s cell phone, and the old LG that we use for business calls, both worked fine, but the Blackberry constantly dropped calls and cut out. I also have problems with the display. If you are making a call, you have to jump through a couple of hoops to get the keypad back on the screen in case you need to “Press 1 for English.” Another problem is that, during a call, it is very easy to move the phone in such a way that your cheek presses the Mute button, and all of a sudden, the person on the other end cannot hear you.
Amazon Kindle – I absolutely love the concept of the Kindle, the Sony e-book reader, and the similar devices on the market. They make great sense for RVers, where weight is an important consideration. They are lightweight, easy to read, and you can store a ton of books on them.
That being said, I sold my Kindle a while back. I found that I just wasn’t using it enough. I love prowling through bookstores, I love the feel of a real book in my hands, and I gravitate to used book stores like a duck to water. Most fiction paperbacks for the Kindle cost about $10, but I can’t sell or trade them after I read them. I can buy the same book for $7.50 to $10 at Wal-Mart, then get ¼ the cover price in trade when I take it to a used book store, or I can pass it on to a friend when I’m finished with it. I also read a lot of non-fiction books, and the quality of photographs, charts and illustrations on the Kindle was very poor.
Silverleaf VMSpc Engine Monitor – This is one addition to our motorhome that I would not be without. Besides providing more accurate information than my dashboard gauges, it monitors our diesel engine’s performance, computes fuel mileage, explains any error codes that might show up, and a lot more. One RVer told me that when his engine was giving him an error code, a shop wanted $3,000 to fix the problem, and the Silverleaf revealed that it was a quick and easy (and cheap) fix. It more than paid for itself right there!
Verizon Air Card – Air cards have pretty much killed the satellite internet industry for RVers. Ours has provided excellent service coast to coast, and there were more times we couldn’t get online with our Hughes dish than there have been with the air card. Coupled with a Wilson Trucker antenna, Wilson amplifier, and a Cradlepoint wireless router, we can both be online on our own computers. It is a hard combination to beat.
Progressive Industries EMS System – The EMS system in our bus conversion saved us from damage a couple of times, and getting another installed in the Winnebago was the first order of business when we bought it. If you don’t have an EMS system, you are playing Russian Roulette every time you plug into a campground’s electrical pedestal.
PressurePro – If you have read more than a few of my blog posts, you already know how much I rely on our PressurePro tire monitoring system. It’s another “must have” for every RV, in my opinion. It can save your tires, your RV, and even your life!
We have a couple of other items that we haven’t installed yet that we want to get to, if the weather will ever cooperate. One is an automatic engine bay fire suppression system from Mac McCoy, and the other is an automatic fire extinguisher for the refrigerator compartment. Both are easy installations, and both can save your RV from becoming a total loss in a fire. We want to get them installed very soon.
Thought For The Day – Happiness is an inner emotion; it is being at peace with who you are.