Friday, June 27, 2008
I don't recall offhand whether I've mentioned it here, but my beat up old Sanyo Sprint phone has been acting weird for a day or two. It suddenly started beeping intermittently for no reason - no alarm, no call, no voicemail, just beeping. Last night I charged the phone, and the charging light stayed on for hours after the phone was unplugged from the charger. Today the beeping was accompanied by the charging light and a display indicating the phone was being charged, even though the charger was many miles away. The phone didn't respond at first to my turning it off, and once or twice it turned itself back on and continued the same odd glitchiness. I called Sprint and they confirmed what I already suspected: I needed a new phone. Which brings me to this week's Weekend Assignment question:
Weekend Assignment #222: What do you use a phone for? Do you strictly use it to make calls and pick up messages, or do you take advantage of other technology bundled with phones these days? Which features do you use all the time, which others would you use if they were available and cheap, and which would you not bother with even it they were free?
Extra Credit: Do you still use your land line to make and receive calls from friends or family?
I learned earlier today that my most recent two-year agreement with Sprint had run out, and so I had the opportunity tonight to switch to Verizon, Nextel (owned by Sprint) or even a pay-as-you-go phone. Since I've sent about two or three text messages in my life, never used a phone for IM or web, and carry a decent digital camera wherever I go, I figured I was in the market for a low-end phone. I was seconds away from buying an LG Chocolate Black for $29.99 with a two year Verizon agreement when John talked me into buying it later, because he was bored and wanted to go home.
When I went back out tonight, I started with the Sprint Store. There was a twenty-minute wait for service, which gave me time to browse through the sample phones and explore a touch screen guide to the phones' features. Despite my I-only-want-it-to-confirm-appointments-and-such philosophy, I have to admit I was tempted by what some of the current phones can do. There might be an occasion when I'd need to transmit a photo immediately, or use GPS. I seldom use my iPod, but I might listen to music on a phone, because I'd be carrying it anyway. And there were Blackberries! And Palm-somethings!
When I got to speak to a Sprint guy, he was very nice and helpful, but the news wasn't good. Some time ago, Sprint switched me over to a bargain basement $29.99 a month plan, on the grounds that I never use up my minutes and they didn't want me to jump ship. But to qualify for a discount/rebate on a phone, I'd not only have to renew my agreement, but also upgrade to the standard $39.99 plan. Phooey! Or I could keep my cheap plan and buy the phone I wanted outright - for over $300! Double phooey!
So I went across the street to Best Buy. This is what I ended up with:
This is an LG Rumor. I got it for $49.99, in a chain-exclusive Best Buy Blue model. Somehow the sales guy got the Sprint server to give me the discounted price with renewal of my service contract at the current $29.99 a month rate, plus a modest one-time upgrade fee. I half expect Sprint to call or email me tomorrow and try to renege. Hope not, though!
This phone has a camera function (meh), media player and web access. Doing anything online, including listening to streaming audio or video, would cost me extra, so that's not going to happen. But I bought a SD memory card, which will allow me to save a modest amount of audio on the phone and play it locally at no charge. The catch it getting it to talk to my computer, where the music lives. But that's an accessory for another day.
Unlike the Palm, the Blackberry and the Motorola, the Rumor doesn't have a GPS function, only a GPS chip so that 911 can find you in an emergency. What it does have in common with the high-end PDA phones is this:
That's a real QWERTY keyboard, with upper and lower case, and punctuation I haven't quite learned to access yet except with number keys. So far I've saved one note, just a test sentence about Rani. But this, too, can be saved to the SD memory card, and eventually transfered elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether typing on tiny buttons will ever be more convenient than carrying around a notebook and a pen with which to write a scene for the novels.
As for the extra credit, I got a call from my dad on the land line on Father's Day, returning my call to him. 95% of the calls we get on that number are political calls, surveys, non-profits, and miscellaneous solicitations of one sort or another. The only reason we haven't dumped it entirely is so I can call John at home. Without the land line, John would have to get a cell phone, and he doesn't want one.
It's your call! Tell us what telephonic technology you actually use, what you'd like to use, and what you'd never use. Post it to your blog or journal, and don't forget to link from here to there and from there to here. I'll text back a week from now with your posted messages. Have a great week!