Cellular

04 June 2004

I give in.

You win.

Cellular phones are okay. They’re not evil. Some people may use them for evil, but they’re not evil in and of themselves.

We would not have our new house if it weren’t for the cellular phone we’re borrowing. The cellular phone has allowed us to track down all sorts of things while on the road lately. I’ve been using it for about a month, and I admit it: I’m hooked.

So now I come to you — penitent — and asking your advice.

Which providers to you recommend? (I’ll tell you from the start that I despise US West, so don’t recommend Qwest — they’re not an option.) Jeff and Jeremy recommend Verizon. What other options are there?

What kind of calling plans are available? What about pay-as-you-go?

What should I look for in a phone? If I get a cell phone, I want to be able to check my e-mail from it. This is not optional. I’d also like for it to sync with existing computer-based address books. Is this possible?

Yes, I’ve turned to the dark side.

Help me by sharing your experiences, good and bad, with carriers, calling plans, and phones.

Don’t gloat.

Just give me advice.

Comments


On 04 June 2004 (10:44 AM),
Tiffany said:

I have Cingular, I like it, good coverage. I have only lacked coverage in Alaska and the week of Sept 11. Nationwide coverage was important to me, but most likely not for you.

Plus they have roll over minutes that come in handy some months.
Check Costco, they normally offer a sightly better deal that you can get in the malls.



On 04 June 2004 (10:52 AM),
Denise said:

Don’t use AT&T – I’m changing over as soon as my contract is up…too bad it’s next April.

I have heard good things about Verizon.



On 04 June 2004 (10:53 AM),
mac said:

We have AT&T, their prices are fine, but sometimes their coverage sucks. You’re going to pay a pretty penny for internet services through your cell phone. Most phones hook up to the address books in your computer or palm pilot, but they usually DON’T come with the cable that connects your phone to your computer.


On 04 June 2004 (10:56 AM),
J.D. said:

So Dana, in an informative e-mail (why not comment?), also pointed out internet service via cell phone is pricey. So, in your advice, ignore the internet stuff unless you have first-hand experience with it. I’ll research that myself. For now, just focus on normal usage.


On 04 June 2004 (11:14 AM),
MightyLambchop said:

The AT&T thing is moot as that division is now owned by Cingular.

Pay as you go is good if you’re like me and you rarely use your phone.
However, if you will use it for work or business like my boyfriend does, you’ll need to go with a contract plan. Those will give you long distance, roaming and national coverage.

Sprint is pretty good as is Verizon for something like that. Both have good coverage. The trick is choosing a good phone. I have an ancient LG that has never let me down. My boyfriend has a Samsung that’s neat but it’s battery life is nonexistant and it never gets a good signal.

Read your contract thouroughly though. You don’t want to get locked into a crappy plan and sometimes buying out is more trouble than it’s worth.



On 04 June 2004 (12:28 PM),
Scott Smith said:

You may want to consider a blackberry phone from either Verizon or T-Mobile. This will recieve and relatively easily send e-mail, and the internet connection cost is reasonable IMHO. It comes with software and a sync cradle that will allow you to connect it to your computer via Outlook.
As a side note, I decided to move from a palm pilot to a pocket pc (Palm OS v. Windows CE) about a year ago. I found the easiest way to convert the information over was a free Yahoo account. Yahoo has a sync program that will upload and download from both platforms. So I uploaded the information from my old palm to Yahoo, then downloaded it to MS Outlook, which downloaded it to my new pocket pc.



On 04 June 2004 (12:33 PM),
Amanda said:

I love Cingular and hear only nasty things about AT&T and Sprint.


On 04 June 2004 (05:05 PM),
Betsy said:

I’ve had AT&T for over seven years now, and have not had problems until the last year.

First I got a new phone on the new network, but took it back after 2 weeks after a rash of missed calls/dropped calls/general flakiness. They finally admitted that they’re still scrambling to get towers up on this new network, so coverage might be spotty (I’m now told that any new customer MUST go on the new network – they let me switch back, though.)

Then I had customer service problems, after years of great service.

Now, I have horrible coverage, especially in my own house. Calls go right to voicemail & I never hear them ring, I have no network access, etc.

If it weren’t for the fact that I get perks from AT&T for being a longtime customer (reduced rates on new phone purchases, etc.) & the hope that Cingular might give us the rollover program as well, I’d be gone…

There is a way to get email notifications on your wireless phone, though – you can set it up to get a text message every time tagged people (or tagged subject lines or keywords) send something to your inbox. Yahoo used to have a notifier, and I know there’s something integrated with Outlook. What I don’t remember is whether or not you need to have your machine on and the email actually resident on your machine to trigger the notifier, or if it’s server-based instead.

I think that’s better than email on a cell phone -which I tried, and it sucked for many many reasons.

I’d really carefully check the form factor of any device that’ll let you do phone and email (whether a Blackberry or Treo, which I hear is way cool.) Will you like holding a brick like device to your ear? Do you need access to your calendar or phone book while you’re on the phone? Think it through carefully before deciding on a all-in-one device (I still like my 2-device partnership – cell phone and Handspring Edge – better.)

Finally – welcome to the 21st century. While cell phones have their disadvantages, they’ve saved my butt on more than one occasion…



On 04 June 2004 (07:44 PM),
Amy Jo said:

We too have joined the dark side. We signed with Verizon and two new phones are on their way to us (with a 503 area code)–just in time for our cross-country trip and looming homelessness.



On 24 June 2004 (07:12 AM),
J.D. said:

Three weeks later, I finally succumbed to the dark side. Here’s what I decided to go with:

A Sony Ericsson T610 phone with T-Mobile’s Basic Plus service and the t-zones add-on package (which gives me access to POP3 e-mail and WAP browsing for $5/month). One-year contract.

If, at the end of the year, I find that I’m using less than 60 minutes/month, I’ll drop down to the lowest service plan.

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