June 26th, 2005


Mr. Cell-o-Phone

Today's impulse buy was a new cell phone and change of service provider. My Sprint PCS phone was mostly useless in Clear Lake, and this reminded me that I had been planning on changing to Cingular as soon as their acquisition of AT&T Wireless was complete. The motivation included several items, all of them minor but added up they made the change a good idea.

One of the bigger small peeves is my Sprint Sanyo 8200 has the vibrate function tied to the volume control. Vibrate is only available at the lowest and highest volume settings. I want to set the ringer volume in the middle, without losing the vibrate feature. The Motorola phone lets me choose to always have the vibrate on, or to only have it on when the ringer is muted.

Another peeve is I really don't need a camera in the phone. All of Cingular's Motorola phones have a camera, so I had to settle for one which takes videos as well as stills, and has a zoom. Oh well. I discovered a Basic Truth when I tested the camera. It gives a lot clearer image if you remove the protective plastic from in front of the lens. That stuff is pasted on so tight I didn't even notice it at first.

One other feature I was waiting for was the automatic phone number transfer service. Turned out it is now seamless. By the time I got the phone home, it had my number on it, and my Sprint service was canceled.

The last time I went to Sprint to see about upgrading to a better phone, they wanted $300 or so. There was some doubt about whether I could get a rebate even if I signed up for another service contract. Switching to another service provider got me the phone for $49 plus a $36 sign-up fee, so call it $85. And yes, a 2-year contract.

Comparing plans is a major exercise in apples and mangos. The marketing gargoyles make sure there is no possibility of head-to-head comparisons. But the basic plan plus pre-paid unlimited internet/text messaging access comes in at $60 for Cingular and $65 for Sprint. Cingular gives 450 prime time minutes a month with rollover for the $40 basic fee, Sprint only gives 300 for $35, and what you don't use you lose.

Another gripe I had about the Sanyo phone is it has no wireless data functionality. The Nokia I used with my prior service (in Seattle) had IR built in. The Motorola has BlueTooth, so I picked up a wireless earpiece and have a wireless USB adapter on order for the data connection. Come to think of it, they probably have that USB adapter at Fry's, where I got the phone. I know, I know, I probably could have gotten a better deal somewhere else, but this was an impulse buy, and somewhere else wasn't open after 5 on Sunday.
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