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Cellular and blue in the tooth?

I am the last kid on the block to consider getting a cell phone, I'm sure. I've just never wanted one or had much of a need for such a device. I don't particularly enjoy talking on the phone as a means of communication in most cases (not all); I'd rather post in my LJ and read those entries written by others. :)

First off, I make a solemn vow that, should I go mobile, I will not behave as the silver-haired jerk in front of me in the white Avalon did this morning. I will not clamp my cell phone to my ear while driving, because, unlike this man, I have enough self-awareness and lack of hubris to realize that I am not a good multitasker, and that it is rude and dangerous to jeopardize my own life and the lives of others by paying too much attention to a conversation and not enough to keeping my eyes on the damned road. I nearly honked at him. The only thing saving him was my respect for the elderly, but what really hacks me off is that he was obviously old enough to remember a time without such devices, and that we got along just fine without them. Stupidhead.

That being said, I'm in a gadget crunch. My husband really wants me to have a cell phone. It's not like I'm going to yak on it a lot, but he wants it there for emergencies and convenience.

My venerable Palm III is showing its age. Unlike his, mine still functions just fine, but there are apps that won't work on it because the OS is too old.

Features I would like:

  • downloadable rings, and preferably the ability to create and use my own sounds
  • downloadable and user-created wallpaper ('cause I would want to put aye-ayes and wee beebee slothies on my screen :) )
  • a decent camera, at least 1 megapixel; I feel this would have use in emergency situations, as well as being convenient "wow, I wish I had a camera right now" fun
  • MP3 player
  • Full Palm compatibility (I have applications I use that I'm not inclined to give up)
  • Downloadable games
  • If it's a phone, it must have vibrate. Must.
  • Internet access

    I don't have to have video capability, but it's fine if it's there.

    The real question is where to put them, and how to combine them?

    Now before you say "Oh, just get a Treo," which combines it all, I should disclose that I really dislike the Treo. I find it very uncomfortable to use those dreadful little buttons. Heck, that's why I went with a Palm in the first place: I prefer Graffiti to a stupid microkeyboard.

    The Zire 72 looks promising, but it doesn't appear to come in any color other than blue, which I really don't care for. I could go with the T5, but the Zire 72 is better suited to my needs in terms of features.

    This Zodiac device looks mighty sweet, but no camera.

    There's Motorola's V710, which is loaded: megapixel camera, MP3 player, and other gee-whiz-bang features. They have some other nice models as well. However, I'd really prefer to do most of those features on a handheld PDA. It just feels more natural to me, and has a larger screen with greater functionality.

    In early research (very early, so feel free to shoot holes in it), it seems like the best solution for me would be to maybe get a Zire 72 (and put up with the stupid color ;p) and a lower end phone without too many frills, save Bluetooth. Supposedly, with Bluetooth, you could dial a number with your cell phone and access the 'net, then browse and surf through your Bluetooth-enabled PDA. Wireless web would actually be pretty nifty.

    However, theory isn't practice. Have any of you done Bluetooth connection setup? Does it work? Is it difficult? How expensive is it? Is Bluetooth reasonably secure?

    ALSO . . .

    What plan/provider do you have? How pleased or displeased have you been with your company? I've been to the Verizon store (very nice staff at the location I visited, without being pushy), and plan to check out the Cingular store tonight. Also will check out T Mobile. I've heard from two different people that they have good customer service, though I really didn't like the sales staff in their mall location -- kind of overbearing, there.

    Interestingly, it seems that Sony has stopped making any variation of the Clie. I couldn't find diddlysquat on their web site related to it, save for a single case for an old model.

    Any information you can supply is welcome. I'm finding it hard to put the options together in the way that I want them.

    11/16/2004 - 10:34 pm addendum: It appears that the Zire is going to be coming out in silver for the holidays! Now the hard part: go with that one, or wait until spring when they're supposed to release the updated version?

  • Comments

    ( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
    arafel
    Nov. 16th, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC)
    Wow, I thought I was the last holdout for no cell phones. NO! DON'T SUBMIT! ;)

    I sponge off my parents' plan, but they have Verizon and appear happy with it. Good luck!
    pointedview
    Nov. 16th, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
    I'm not alone! I'm not alone! *hugs Arafel*

    *makes little paper signs of defiance with crayons and cardboard*

    ;)

    I've heard good things about Verizon, too -- my in-laws have it, and their freebie phones are actually pretty nice. They also have the option of a dual plan, which would be nice for hub and myself.
    hehutalks
    Nov. 17th, 2004 05:18 pm (UTC)
    You don't learn to truly loath cell phones until you're trapped on a commuter train for 90 minutes-two hours each day and forced to listen to the inane ramblings of people who think everyone within 25 feet is fascinated by the minutia of their horrible little lives. The funny thing is: All conversations with these idiots, whether they're making or receiving the call is "I'm on the train!"

    I, shamefully, carry a cell phone, but leave it turned off 90% of the time, only using it for emergencies (note: what we're having for dinner does not qualify as an emergency) or when I'm on the road, as it's tons cheaper than using a hotel phone for long distance.

    On the Zodiac, I carry one and can vouch that it's a nifty little machine. I've been thrilled with mine, as has a buddy who works at the NY Times. That said, we're pretty sure we're the only two people on earth who use them. If you didn't live 700+ miles away, I'd be more than happy to let you take it for a test drive.
    pointedview
    Nov. 17th, 2004 06:51 pm (UTC)
    Good for you! It's okay if you carry a cell phone, sugar, as long as you're doing it responsibly, and it sounds like you are. :) Very proud of you for that, but not surprised by it. :)

    I'd love to test drive a Zodiac, but yes, 700 miles is a bit of a hurdle. Where did you find yours? Are you able to surf the web with it, with a Palm-compatible web browser?
    hehutalks
    Nov. 17th, 2004 07:05 pm (UTC)
    I will confess to making a non-emergency call last Christmas season when I was at the mall... but in my defense, some guy had kieled over and died in the men's department at Nordstrom's. How can you not call after coming across that?

    Got my Zodiac when the first came out, direct from Tapwave. I'd met with the CEO a number of times and had liked what I'd seen. I haven't tried Web surfing, so can't give you an answer on that. I'm not much of a PDA guy, but use it to keep my phone numbers handy as well as pictures of my wife...and Barney :)
    pointedview
    Nov. 19th, 2004 01:25 pm (UTC)
    *nods* Proximate death, even that of a stranger, is a valid reason to make a call. :)

    You know, though, the happiest thing about this post was hearing that Barney is still around. I'm glad to know that.

    I found a program called BitPIM that should allow me to upload pix to my phone pretty easily, so I can use some of the existing ones of David and Annsa . . . not that it would be hard to get a new one of the cat. She doesn't exactly move at the speed of light. Heck, she doesn't even move at the speed of molasses. :)
    freakyferret
    Nov. 18th, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
    I just posted a thing about getting a cell phone. :p So where's my hug too!?

    Personally, I scream to stay away from Cingular. Ugh. Go to the yellow pages website and type in cell phones. :) Find various ones around you. I don't think Centennial is in your area, but it's the one I went with.

    The main reason was "Free Incoming Calls". I think a few companies are offering that now. To me, that's _the_ feature to look for in your plan. Also make sure it's really free incoming.
    freakyferret
    Nov. 18th, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
    OH, forgot:

    Find a company whose plans you are comfortable with, esp financially. That's the important thing in cell phones. They can get incredibly costly in very short time.

    Then see what services they offered. I would have wanted a service which utilized bluetooth fully and such, but the company I went with was the one who had the best promise (and credible promise) of not becoming a $300 a month bill. They'll offer various other connectivity features later, but for now, they offer the best feature: not to screw you on the phone bill.
    pointedview
    Nov. 18th, 2004 10:34 pm (UTC)
    You get permahugged! :)

    Yep, Cingular didn't interest us at all. Verizon has some appeal, because calls to other Verizon users are free, and both my parents and my in-laws use Verizon, therefore, all parental calls would be gratis. They also have a deal where, for $59.99 a month, we each have our own phone and share 600 minutes a month. Since the calls to the 'rents would never count, I really don't see us ever using that time up. :)

    The free incoming calls thing is interesting. I'll have to check into that.

    *orders a side of extra huggles just for you* :)
    freakyferret
    Nov. 19th, 2004 12:35 am (UTC)
    Ask companies specifically about free in-coming calls.

    And, as much as Verizon advertises "In" network, I don't know of any cellular company which doesn't give you free cellular to cellular calls on their network. Ie, Cingular can call other Cingular customers free, etc.

    Also, have them get out a calculator and add up how much all the extras will be. While my dad's and my phone is just $60 a month on the plan, we have about $25 more a month with Caller ID and voice mail, and then all the extra fees and such. Such as Federal Recovery something and so on.
    pointedview
    Nov. 19th, 2004 05:33 am (UTC)
    I asked the lady about extra fees tonight. They give you a full example bill, detailing Fed charges, etc., before you sign the paperwork, so expectations will be a bit more realistic. Still haven't bought, though. :) Still doing research. Thank you so much for the information!
    freakyferret
    Nov. 19th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)
    Not a problem. :) Since I just did it, it's fresh in my mind.

    As for the actual phone, what I did was just get the free one they gave. You may not want that, but it's a good starting point for your first phone. You can always get another one later on after all. Of course, if you know what features you want on the phone (and have the money), you can get a much better phone at a reduced price with your contract.

    OH! Also, ask about grace period on the contract. Cancellation wise. The service you go with may not perform as you like/want. Be sure there is a period of time you can cancel if that's the case. 15 days is usually standard from what I saw, but some will give you 30 days.
    twr
    Nov. 20th, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
    While there's something to be said for do-everything devices
    And it does make sense to have your palm and phone integrated (since it does seem like a good idea to have your numbers in your phone), all-in-one phones tend to cost a *lot* more and not be quite as usable as separate items. Of course, you then have nine million little electronic devices to carry around instead of one, but still . . .

    My advice is to start with the cheap POS doesn't do much but let you make and receive calls phone--it'll probably be color, have downloadable games and ringtones anyway. Palm OS, net access and mp3 playing are the features that will really cost you. Oh, and I don't think it's possible to get a new phone that doesn't have a vibrate feature. :)

    As far as plans go, something else to look out for are plans that don't require a one or two year contract. They do tend to give you not quite as many minutes, and they may not be offered by a provider you want to have service with, but they do exist and are certainly worth considering.

    And one final piece of advice: locking and unlocking the keypad can be a little annoying. If you get a flip phone, this is something you never have to worry about. But that might mean an awfully tiny screen for Palm OS uses. Just take some time and decide if you want a flip phone or non-flip phone. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
    pointedview
    Nov. 23rd, 2004 05:21 am (UTC)
    Re: While there's something to be said for do-everything devices
    Heya, TheWhiteRabbit! Great to see you!

    Thank you so much for the information. I took your advice, and didn't go with an all-in-one. I did get something slightly less basic than the POS, but only because I really, really wanted mobile web access. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to know what was playing at a given theater while being out and about, or wanted access to Mapquest, etc.

    Ended up with the 6100 described in this post. :) Things went well. I really appreciate how non-pushy the Verizon reps have been. We've received very good customer service so far. Helpful, but not aggressive. Tonight, when they didn't have a USB cable in stock, they gave me a 20% off store manager coupon so that when it comes in on Friday, I get a little discount for having to wait to pick it up. :)
    twr
    Nov. 24th, 2004 01:38 am (UTC)
    Re: While there's something to be said for do-everything devices
    Verizon . . . good customer service? Waaaait, you haven't had to actually call them for customer service yet.

    In all honesty, people I know who have Verizon are generally very satisfied with the service they get, be it DSL, cell, or landlind. But calling customer service is generally nothing but an exercise in frustration. Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm these days, no matter who you go with--it's probably outsourced to a developing nation, and even if it isn't, you get a person on the phone who, rather than listen to you and try to solve your problem, is required to follow a flow chart of things you may have already tried and insist that you go through them step by step.

    Anyway, congratulations and welcome to the 21st century!

    So I wouldn't let customer service keep you away, unless you personally end up having a really bad experience with it.
    ( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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