Nineteenth century American lawyer George Graham Vest coined the phrase, "The best friend a man has is his dog," in 1870. But it's now the 21st century, and man (and woman!) has a new best friend: a GPS.
GPS units (also called sat navs) can act as a glorified street directory but are also capable of much, much more — live traffic updates, lane guidance and Bluetooth hands-free functionality to name a few features. GPS units with these features have been designed to be used regularly, even if you do know your way around.
If you're a regular GPS user, why not spruce up your sat nav with a celebrity voice or famous cartoon character to drown out that dreary, default computer voice? (Sorry Karen Jacobsen.) We round up some of the best GPS voices available, and put together a wish list of GPS voices we'd love to hear.
Your GPS and Mr T: I pity the fool who doesn't know his way around
When it comes to stale '80s pop culture references, none take the cake quite like Mr T. His lovably aggressive quotes can be a source of hilarity, so it's no little surprise that you can put his voice on your GPS unit.
It may be hard to yell at your GPS when it's already screaming at you for turning at the wrong intersection, but those looking for a fight from their GPS will enjoy Mr T's voice. Everyone else will get irritated really quickly.
Released by NavTones, a provider of specialist voice content for GPS navigation systems, the Mr. T voice sells for US$12.95 and is available for a range of TomTom and Garmin GPS devices.
Knight Rider for your sat nav
Navtones has also released the voice of KITT, David Hasselhoff's robotic navigator from the '80s classic Knight Rider. Mio took it one step further and made a custom Knight Rider GPS device for those who are extra keen.
This specialised GPS device is stocked with red LEDs to mimic the KITT dashboard from the TV series. There are 300 preloaded usernames to choose from to make you feel like you're the Hoff himself as you drive around town in your Toyota Camry — I mean Trans Am.
A GPS for everyone, even geeks
We've found a GPS voice that'll suit that fans of all Weighted Companion Cubes: The voice of GLaDOS from Valve's Portal!
Labelled GLaGPS, this voice emulates Portal's eerily soothing antagonist — an artificial intelligence that leads the player through morbid testing chambers. What better way to get around than to be directed by a maniacal computer that could either lead you to the nearest petrol station or to your ultimate doom?
Cartoon and television classics
Another voice you might not trust giving you directions is Stewie, the menacing, evil-genius baby from animated series Family Guy.
And don't forget Homer Simpson.
These cartoon voices sound less choppy and computerised than some of the former voices, so they score extra points from us.
Our GPS voice wishlist
There are a few voices the GPS companies have missed out on, so here's our list of most-wanted GPS voiceovers.
Apart from being an iconic actor, Christopher Walken's constant mid-sentence pauses match up exactly with the awkward mid-directional pauses from your standard GPS. It's not hard to picture his droning voice blaring from a Navman. An honourable mention here goes to William Shatner — the Star Trekking master of mid-sentence pauses.
But most importantly there is one giant foul-mouthed void in the GPS voice-over market: Samuel Jackson.
When there aren't any kids in the car, who wouldn't want the Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane star to command you to "Turn left in 100 metres, [expletive deleted — Ed.]" Missed turns would be a thing of the past, so let's just hope the GPS voice recording companies catch on.
Until then, I think I'll leave my sat nav on mute.
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