Saturday, March 17, 2012

Technology Marches Past

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W

It is hard to fathom how fast technology changes nowadays, or how hard it is for people like me to keep up.

In 2006, we got a Sirius satellite radio for Tarwathie.  It was our primary source of news and entertainment for more than 5 years.  It offered excellent static-free sound quality.  It offered consistent programming regardless of our location on the USA coast or Bahamas.  When we travel, conventional radio stations are constantly fading in and out.

Two week ago, Sirius juggled their offerings of NPR programs.  The programs that I like to listen to were no longer offered at the times of day convenient to me.  That NPR station was what I listened to 90% of the time.  We are not big music fans, and we never listen to sports.  Therefore, the Sirius service became less valuable to me.   In addition, we heard in the cruiser's gossip that Sirius had tightened their signal so that it can not be received in the Bahamas.

Another factor, I recently found an excellent app for my Droid called Beyondpod.  It makes it easy for me to suscribe to my favorite shows, download their podcasts, and then listen to them at my convenience.  I've been listening to podcasts on my Droid all along, but this new app makes it easier and more reliable.   Before going offshore, I can download heaps of podcasts in advance to listen to in the coming days and weeks.

I also have a public radio app for the Droid and the NPR app.  Those let me listen to the news of the day, easily and on my own schedule.  I like to follow the local news in Vermont and Albany, NY even when we are elsewhere.

Anyhow, I realized that I could get everything I want to hear easier, more reliable, and more convenient to me on the Droid as compared to the Sirius.   I cancelled the Sirius service, thus saving $7 per month (for the first 4 years we had to pay $12.95/month).   I must confess, I owned a smart phone for two years before realizing that it could eliminate the need for satellite radio too.

I'm shifting the $7/month expenditure from Sirius to Netflix.  That will allow us to see streaming video entertainment on the phone and on the laptop screen using 3G, while in the USA.  If we had a flat screen TV on board, my Droid has a HDMI interface that would drive HD TV directly from the phone.

Oh, by the way, I hardly ever need to take out our WIFI booster antenna any more.  That technology too has become obsolete for much of our use. The relentless march of technology is amazing.

p.s. The Droid will also act as a mobile WIFI hotspot.  However if I click that icon, Verizon will charge me an extra $20 or $30 per month for using that feature.  I choose instead the free tethering app that gives me a wired connection to my laptop.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. We also have used Sirius radio for several years just to get our NPR fix while cruising in Canadian waters. We found CBC coverage of U.S. politics lacking, particularly in election years. We also noticed the Sirius programming change that first night, when I turned to 123 after listening to the PBS NewsHour on POTUS. We were incredulous, especially since they eliminated the PRI channel (and This American Life, one of my favorites) about 3 years ago. We have also canceled our subscription. Ron has a grandfathered "unlimited" data plan on his iPad, so we stream our "home" NPR station whenever we're able. We're still not sure what we'll do this summer, while cruising Canadian waters. Perhaps Sirius will hear us at some point? Just think the quality programming they could give us with the money they pay Howard Stern!.

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