In Star Wars Episode IV, the ghost of Ben Kenobi spoke to Luke Skywalker in the cockpit of his X-Wing, telling him to turn off his guidance computer and use The Force to guide him to his target and destroy the Death Star. Unfortunately, not all of us are "Force Sensitive" and require guidance from a machine to stay on target.
Garmin has given us the next best thing to Obi-Wan's ghost steering us home: Star Wars voices in their new GPS systems. Obi-Wan himself isn't present, (Alec Guinness or Ewan McGregor) but both his master and his apprentice are. That s right, Yoda and Darth Vader are now available as voice options for the turn-by-turn directions in their popular line of GPS navigation devices.
Now, the respective masters of the light and dark sides of the force aren't free. In their blog post announcing the new voices, Garmin states that the voices of the former Anakin Skywalker and the swamp dwelling Jedi master will cost customers thirteen dollars each. It's a small price to pay to turn your boring ol' sedan into an X-Wing or Tie Fighter. This, of course, depends upon where on the force alignment scale you fall.
It's unclear whether James Earl Jones and Frank Oz (Vader and Yoda respectively) are actually voicing these directions but, even if it's not the original actors, they're good impersonations. But that doesn t really matter; what matters is that this is just plain cool.
The world loves Star Wars. Given the choice, the voice of Melissa (or whatever her name is) who reminds most men of their first wife, and Darth Vader, the dark lord of the Sith, the decision is as clear as the difference between the light side and the dark side itself.
Now here comes the down side of this story. Garmin's main competitor, TomTom, has offered both Vader and Yoda for more than a year, and they even have a couple of more Star Wars-themed voices in Han Solo and C-3P0. These two extra options literally put you in Luke Skywalker's chair in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Not a bad place to be, until Admiral Akbar declares, "It's a trap!"
Garmin may not have the swashbuckling space pirate and gold-plated protocol droid, but they will soon. At present, there is no indication that any other Star Wars cast members will join the turn-by-turn directions club. However, should there be, we would like to make some suggestions.
Mace Windu Samuel L. Jackson may be expensive to get for a device like Garmin, but well worth it.
Bobba Fett Any Star Wars fan would love to hear Bobba rise from the depths of the Sarlac.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Death's been hard on Alec Guinness, but most would be happy to hear Ewan McGregor reprise his role as Luke and Anakin Skywalker's master.
Chewbacca The fact that he doesn't speak English ("standard" in the Star Wars universe) means nothing to the true Star Wars fan.
Luke and Leia Skywalker The twin offspring of Anakin Skywalker could actually share a channel; it would be like the Donny and Marie Show on your GPS system.
In the end, this is a silly and fun idea that brings a little joy to something boring and mundane like turn-by-turn directions. But sometimes, it s the silly fun things that make life worth living. May the force be with you.
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