AIO PNDs, and writing


If Mae West were alive, her famously bawdy trademark line might go like this: “Hello there, sailor. Is that a WAAS GPS AIO PND loaded with a continent’s worth of nautical, street, topo, and photo cartography and several hundred thousand POIs in your pocket…or are you just happy to see me?” To which a sorry geek like me might squeak back, “Pardon, Ms. West, no time for flirting; I’ve got gadgets to fiddle with!” Indeed I do.

So goes the opening paragraph of my current PMY column, Pocket Navigation, and I’m hoping it will make you chuckle, and read on. Plus you might enjoy a high res version of the alternate lead photo above, and looking back at first Panbo impressions of the Garmin Colorado 400C, the Magellan Crossover, the Lowrance XOG, and the DeLorme PN-20.

But please indulge a side track about writing. You see, for me, the goal of that opener involves two principals I take great stock in. One involves the legendary answer to a student’s query about a writing career: “Do you like sentences?” I do. Heck, I sometimes admire a well-crafted sentence, or a smoothly structured article, as I might a finely executed boat detail. Then there’s the dictum I learned in a college writing course: if you want someone to read you, you’ve got to hustle them into it. The instructor was the very persuasive, if somewhat crazed David Milch, who went on to draw many of us into many stories. But the real reason I’m thinking about writing is that my sweet daughter Jesse got her first big piece of reporting/writing into Newsweek (she works there, but not as a writer, yet; they are smart enough to make that transition an extended hustle). Her subject has nothing to do with marine electronics, and, in fact, is tough stuff to learn about—plus, this recommendation comes from a proud papa, for sure—but you might find Cutting Desire mind expanding. And so well written!

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Sandy says:

    Objective, sympathetic, even kind: nice article. YOURS, however, is too brief, and compares products priced three times as much as another. And how are they that much better than Garmin’s 3600 Palm based unit?

  2. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Sorry to admit this … but I dozed off reading the article after nearly finishing the second device.
    It’s not the writing, it’s either me or the devices. Maybe I am spoiled now … but after having weather integrated with my cartography, it has become a must have feature for me. Reading that the Garmin is the best device of the four, and it does not have weather and as a navigation device dosn’t include voice … zzzzzzzzz.
    How long until we hear about the Busnell ONIX ?

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Dan, you’re a hard geek to please! I will write more about the Onix, but in short I think that while it works fairly well, the weather is a bit limited for boaters. Onix certainly is a mark of where handhelds can go, though.
    Meanwhile, I think I just found a life-altering gadget, at least for me, and at least a mind altering gadget for anyone interested in technology. It’s not at all marine, but for people like me struggling to integrate written notes, interview recordings, and a PC work environment, the LiveScribe Pulse SmartPen is really, really interesting. I just got it yesterday, so my experience is limited, but I think I’m falling in love:

  4. Todd Smith says:

    I just can’t get excited about any of these units that don’t take the free NOAA charts. And I would prefer the vector charts.
    How long before someone makes a real chart plotter that takes the non-proprietary charts ?

  5. Sandy says:

    Have you found your livescribe usefull?

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sandy, I’ve use the Livescribe Smartpen a lot, and it’s phenomenal. It actually works better than advertised!

  7. MaineFog says:

    Its one major issue is that it is round with no bumps so it rolls easily on any flat surface. Apparently they do not like to bounce after a good roll.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    My daughter Jesse is shining this week, co-author of an important article about gender inequality that even involves her employer, Newsweek. That’s her on the left:
    And here’s a follow-up piece that involves yours truly in his younger days:

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