Killing Time the High Tech Way
There is only so much coffee one can drink, so much one can eat and really, most of the movies in driver’s lounges get old after awhile or the shows the others are watching just do not interest you. The drivers around you talk about the same old same old, the truck is clean, paperwork is done and you have completed your exercises for the day, how do you fill those long boring hours waiting on a load or taking your restart? In today’s high tech world, killing time is easier than ever before.
Satellite radio provides sports, music, news, talk and even chapters of books to listen to. Sirius XM Radio also provides weather conditions for major cities around the country. Costs vary for the services, based on what if any premium channels you opt for, from $14.99 to 17.99 a month. Discounts are given for various lengths of contracts.
Satellite TV-While portable satellite TV was developed with RV’ers in mind, truckers latched on to the concept as soon as the small satellite dishes were invented. With minimal work, there is no installation necessary, in just a few minutes; a driver can be watching hundreds of channels of TV within the comfort of their trucks. DirectTV is the most popular of these satellite dish systems and can easily be moved into the house during hometime. Plans at DirectTV start at $29.95 to $91.95 depending on the plan. DirectTV offers service even to cell phones.
TVs in themselves have gotten better for truckers. HD antennas are available for HD compatible TVs. Some truckers have mounted flat screens onto their bunk walls instead of having to pack them away as in the old days. HDTV has gone portable with Walmart offering a 9” hand held battery operated HDTV flat screen for as little as $60.00.
Cell Phones/Computers/Internet-Cell phones have become ”˜smart’ and one can do almost anything on them that one can do on a laptop or PC in addition to keeping up with friends and family. While some smart phone packages require an extra fee for unlimited data usage, it is usually more dependable and cheaper than trying to use an air card.
Laptops have both gotten smaller and cost less than they once did. One can buy a good laptop for under $1,000. Having a laptop allows one to take care of business duties easier than doing them longhand and of course, games, news and the social media sites are available online. However, air cards through cell phone providers can cost $50.00 a month and less costly wireless hookups through truck stops are at times undependable.
Social Media on the internet is addictive and it can allow one to while away many hours. Just reading the cute sayings and jokes posted on Facebook alone can take hours much less commenting on your own or other’s pages. Social media sites are free other than the internet connection itself.
MP3/Ipod- An MP3 file is an audio file that has been compressed. The files usually are placed in an MP3 player's memory by connecting it to a computer and transferring the files to the device. Some advanced models of MP3 players, however, might allow the user to download the files directly from the Internet. Portable video players, aka PVPs or portable media players, are the video equivalent of portable MP3 players. In fact, they are MP3 players at heart, with the additional capability to play back video on a larger (3 inches or more) color screen and can be used not only to watch movies on, but also to play games. Many of these devices can be ran through a usb line to the truck’s am/fm radio in new models. MP3 players will cost under $100, Ipods or PVP’s start at around $200.00
NetFlix-NetFlix is an internet delivered service offering TV shows and movies to any device able to be connected to the internet. The price is very reasonable and no contracts are required, just register, pay your monthly payment of $7.99 and stop when you choose.
If books are your thing, technology has entered the print world too. Amazon.com offers Kindle and the new Kindle Fire for reading books using a device. Kindle is a book-reading device primarily. One buys Kindle compatible books from Amazon.com at a very small fraction of print book prices that can be read at your leisure. Kindle Fire has WiFi capabilities and can support music, movies and thousands of books in storage. Prices for a regular Kindle are low now, around $100.00. Kindle Fire, depending on size and capabilities, runs from $200-400.00.
For those less technologically adept, there are cds and hand held games. Cds not only provide music, but also audio books to fill those hours either sitting around or running down the road. Some companies have even begun to offer company policy and news cds for their drivers. Hand held games can be found at some truck stops and are usually quite reasonable in price, under $20.00. Most are very straightforward to use and for the cost of a couple of batteries once in awhile, can provide hours of enjoyment.
New entertainment devices are developed and presented for sale daily. As with any technology, as soon as you buy a new device, a bigger, better or more powerful one will come along and your new device is obsolete before you figure out how to use all of its features. That should not stop you though from entering the technological world to kill your downtime.