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Another post from The Man…
On our recent trip to San Antonio for our anniversary last month, we rented a car to get a Grand Slam hit and to keep the miles down on our personal vehicles. Although Houston to San Antonio is manageable by car, the duration would have been difficult for Little C, so this trip was perfect for road traveling, since it was just Mommy Points and myself. We rented from Hertz, which, in my opinion, still remains the superior choice in its industry. My father chose Hertz, and was adamant about ingraining a true sense of brand loyalty on his sons (the adverse is also true; if you meet him someday, ask him what he thinks of Coors beer…)
Although I am entrenched in technology as the foundation of my career, and more so through various hobbies, to some extent, I am a Luddite. Not to get too tangential, but technology is grafting itself into the human psyche faster than we recognize. Too many of us are beholden to our gadgets, the most codependent of which is the ubiquitous little GPS. There are countless valid studies indicating that a dependence on technology reduces both short-term and long-term recall (I can still tell you my friend’s phone numbers from childhood, but have to look up 90% of the numbers that I frequently use today), and those of us who use GPS are quickly losing the ability to read a map, or find their way out of a bathroom without digital assistance. I pick my battles, however. Although I am addicted to the features of my smartphone, I have avoided using GPS unless boating, where there are no road signs, and fog or darkness can make landmark recognition challenging.
When we picked up our car from Hertz, our friendly neighborhood manager, Megan, gleefully exclaimed, “Oooh, and this one has Neverlost!” I was happy that she was happy, but was rather nonplussed by the added feature. It was complimentary, so I didn’t mind. It was mounted in the passenger legroom area, below the radio and climate controls, to the right of the gearshift. If I were in a challenging area with complex directions and needed to glance at the displayed map to succeed at finding my route, it would be far from the view of the road. Not the best mounting position, I’d have to say, but it worked.
I doubt that I would have turned the unit on the entire trip, but for the fact that it comes on automatically when you start the car. One of the features from the menu is “My Trips”, so out of a passing curiosity, I navigated to that option. I was informed that I could load a trip from a USB stick, rather than having to manually enter the address of each location into the unit itself. I had a few minutes to spare as I waited for MP to get her last-minute things for the trip, so I dashed inside and browsed to the Neverlost site. The site is well designed, and with one click, I began constructing my trip.
Although Houston to San Antonio is a straight shot on I-10 West, the actual locations of the Hyatt Regency and the Westin La Cantera were not ones that I had memorized. So I plugged both of those destinations into the trip creator, as well as our home address to see if it could navigate back for the return without fail. The final saved file was small, and transferred to a usb stick without incident. Once I plugged it in to the Neverlost device, it was a matter of restarting the unit to get it to recognize the stick, and then my named trip was available for use.
To its credit, Neverlost is very fast and accurate when displaying maps and routes at highway speeds. It did not inform me that the suggested route was a toll route when that part of the trip came up, so if I hadn’t known of an alternate, I would have been required to do a cash lane toll, as the car did not have speedpass or something similar as an offering. One can always play “rental roulette” to see if a bill comes later for toll fees on the speedpass lanes, but this behavior also can get a peace officer conversation pretty quickly, if one is nearby when your car doesn’t register at the tollbooth.
Once we passed the tollroad, the unit quickly calculated an alternate route, and told me such: “Calculating alternate route.” I swear they hired a hypnotist for the voice recordings, because the female voice that helpfully suggests approaching exits, turns, or destinations is the audible equivalent of equal parts Zanax, Benadryl, and Valium.
When it came time to pull over for a bio-break (MP hates this term, so I’m required to include it for any bipartisan readership) and some beef jerky (it’s a state law in Texas that if roadtripping for greater than 100 miles one-way, all motorists must buy and consume copious quantities of quality dried meat. I strongly suggest Oma’s Choice, and if not Oma’s, then a close second is Roberson’s) we found a convenience store outside of Seguin (pronounced suh-GEEN). Here’s where Neverlost got buggy. The on-ramp to return to I-10 was clearly a left-hand entrance from the feeder. Neverlost, or at least, the brazen charlatan barking commands, demanded I go right. Now, despite the fact that I knew full well which was the correct path, I instantly, and obediently, veered right. Perhaps there is something to this hypnosis theory after all…
It became immediately obvious that we were now traveling in the wrong direction. A good rule of thumb in the South is that, if the people staring at you from their front porch have more rocking chairs than teeth, you may be lost. We made our hasty u-turn, ignoring Neverlost’s vehement protestations, and managed to get back on I-10 unscathed.
The rest of the trip was fairly accurate, guiding us down appropriate one-way streets in downtown San Antonio, and routing us to west of San Antonio correctly, albeit somewhat circuitously. On the return, however, Neverlost tried to get us to go back through Austin, rather than Houston. We live north of Houston, but this route seemed arbitrarily assigned, and not the direct shot. Moreover, I-10 is a four-lane divided highway, as opposed to the Austin route, which would have required two-lane blacktop for much of the journey.
All in all, I’d give Neverlost high marks. If I were in a strange area, and didn’t have time to research a map or ask for directions, I would be very happy that this was an available option. Yet now that many phones are GPS-enabled, I’m interested to see if on-board GPS services like this will continue to be profitable for the car rental industry.
Are you a fan of GPS? If it weren’t available and you were significantly lost, do you think you possess the necessary skills to become un-lost? In a labyrinth, what is the only guaranteed way to find the exit?
Disclaimer: MommyPoints.com received no compensation for this review, and has no direct affiliation with Hertz or it’s Neverlost product. Additionally, volume of teeth and chairs embellished for creative purposes, with the utmost respect for whomever lives at the red x.