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Cellphones

Bill Dog's Journal: looking for a new cell phone

Journal by Bill Dog

About this time of year back in 2000, I got my first cell phone. By then I was pretty out of place not having one, working at a technology company amongst fellow technology workers. So I decided it was time. It was this extremely ubiquitous (at the time) Nokia model, and with PacBell Wireless.

I'm still using that phone.

PacBell became Cingular, which then became AT&T, but it's only been a name change for me and my trusty phone. In all this time I've managed to only drop it twice, and it's still ticking. I'm even still on the original battery, which really doesn't hold much of a charge anymore, or sometimes enough to even place a call, so when I say I'm still using it, I guess I mean barely.

I thought about just getting a new battery for it, because it still functions. I.e. places and receives calls -- what a phone is for. But it's almost 2008 and I'll be joining another company soon (hopefully some day here!), and I'm starting to feel a little self-conscious about my half-a-pound "brick" phone from "way back". It's partly that I want to forestall the "grandpa" and "Smithsonian" references that may otherwise be flung my way, and partly because my ancient, basic workhorse lacks a few of the modern features I think I'd like to have:

1) Vibrate mode - I told you my phone was old! (Apparently this was an optional feature on mine, achievable via a separately-purchased battery pack.)

2) Speakerphone - Ever since seeing cell phones used this way on the (ex-) "Dog the Bounty Hunter" show, and being a speakerphone nut, I knew I had to have that. But they keep saying "over", and I see that a few select phones have full-duplex speakerphone capability, some LG's and some Samsungs. That's what I want.

3) Alarm Clock - Maybe I'll start taking lunchtime siestas in my car.

4) Camera - I don't have a digital camera, and it would be nice to be able to snap an informal pic whenever. I've gathered that there are basically ones with VGA cameras, taking a 640x480 pixel shot, which is really exceedingly low quality (about 0.3 megapixels), then there are 1.3 MP ones that take a 1280x1024 pixel shot, and on the bleeding (and pricing) edge are 2.0 MP ones. I think one of the 1.3 MP ones that seem common nowadays would be good, but I have one huge question that any interest of mine whatsoever in this feature rests upon: Is it simple to/how do you get the pic off your phone and onto your computer?

Other modern stuff, I don't care about -- email, web, videos, highly compressed music, typing out textual messages on teensy little keyboards, etc.

The only other thing I'm looking at is talk time and standby time. My granddaddy phone has (had) up to 5 hours of talk time, and the range these days seems to be about 3-9 hours, and it could go 9 days on standby before needing a recharge, and this range these days seems to be about 8-15 days. So there's plenty of room to improve on both compared to my current one.

Things I don't think I care about, but am not sure:

a) Hands-free headset - Might not be needed for, for example, in the car, unless a (full-duplex) speakerphone isn't workable in that environment. But I don't place calls while driving, I only occasionally receive them, so either way I'd have to reach for and pick up something -- I wouldn't normally always put the headset on. Also, some headsets are worth less than nothing -- my former boss's dropped every other word of his.

b) Car charger - I just don't spend that much time in the car.

c) BlueTooth - I don't want a PDA phone, and put my calendar and contacts and junk on it and sychronize it all between the phone and the laptop that I don't have. I'd get a Crackberry if I wanted to be traveling mobile media guy (like my current boss).

d) Java - Ugh. (And for all you MS haters, no I don't want Windows Mobile on my phone either.)

e) # of bands - They seem to operate at either up to 2, 3, or 4 frequencies, and I guess having certain ones are good if you travel internationally. Which I don't.

f) Flip vs. slider - I think I prefer the flip variety, as the main screen at least is protected when not in use.

g) Touchscreens - Just starting to appear, but will they last ~ 7 years like good ole buttons?

But finally, there's one thing I really like that my current old phone has that none of the modern ones do:

* Big (relatively), pressable buttons. My dad was trying to use his modern marvel the other night, which has the usual arrangement nowadays of arrow buttons in a circle around an OK button. But they're so tiny nowadays, he was trying to press OK, and kept inadvertently hitting one of the arrow buttons at the same time, so each time he tried to enter some menu item/cell phone function, he was whisked off to a different feature, other than the one he wanted. But, such is the price of progress, I suppose.

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looking for a new cell phone

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