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Tekkie Fathers Day gifts

What are you getting dear old dad this year for Father's Day? If dad travels a lot, perhaps a GPS unit could be a good choice. There are many different kinds including apps for smart phones along with dedicated devices and so-called "connected" devices.

GPS via smart phone is simple; users must already have the smart phone and need only download the app. Many smart phones have a number of apps available with some offering hands-free, voice navigation. The good thing about smart phone based GPS is people usually always have their phone. A bad thing is having the screen constantly on will drain the battery more quickly.

Dedicated devices are the ones most people think of when someone mentions GPS. They work very well having intuitive, larger interfaces but they also cost more than just a smart phone app. Many dedicated devices are updated in two main steps. Updates are downloaded to a PC and then transferred to the device. That's more work than downloading an app but, the reality is, the unit may need to only be updated once or twice during its life time depending on the travel habits of the user. Dedicated devices have come down in price considerably in the last few years. I recently bought one for under a hundred bucks.

Connected devices are just like a dedicated device except they offer more information for the user. Where dedicated devices only receive data, connected devices can initiate data requests. That makes reports for weather, traffic, fuel prices, etc. instantly available. More sophisticated ones can pull up flight information, movie times, and perform Google searches for nearby points of interest. The biggest drawback for connected devices is the cost, which is more initially and typically requires a monthly subscription of $10 to $15.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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