The family cell phone contract ran out, and so we were finally able to get new phones.
Of course, Moore's Law means everything is getting better, smaller and faster in the area of electronics, which is a nice way of saying that getting a new cell phone is now about as complicated as getting a health insurance plan.
Too. Many. Options. Not. Enough. Money.
In the end, we went with Sprint which is the only cell phone system that gets a connection in the Washington, D.C. subway system other than Verizon. And unlike Verizon, with Sprint, we are not going to be beat around the head with data charges on a true internet-ready telephone.
A family plan with unlimited text and unlimited data, and about twice as many cell phone minutes as we now actually use saved us a little money over what we were spending on plain phone and text service from Verizon, and since we intend to drop our land line completely (yes, the family is going all cell), we are pretty sure we will save money in the long run.
The new phones we got are Samsung Instincts which are, well ... AMAZING.
These are not Iphone knock-offs -- they are better than Iphones. For one thing, the Instinct gets real TV, not just Youtube donwloads. Amazing.
Of course, I have only had the phone for few hours. I will report out in a few weeks with an update when I figure out how everything actually works. Perhaps these new phones are not as good as they at first appear. Right now, however, I am just amazed.
A sampling of what my new phone can do:
- Makes calls inside the house. This may not seem like a big deal, but I could never get a Verizon signal inside the house using my old phone. I had to stand in the middle of the front yard. In the interest of full disclosure, my reception problems may have had more to do with my old cell phone rather than Verizon coverage per se. None-the-less getting cell phone reception inside the house is a big deal as far as I am concerned.
- Voice Mail: A pretty standard feature, but something I am still amazed comes free with a handheld device.
- Real Internet Capabilities. I can read blogs and news and get my emails as well. I can order books from Amazon, check the latest headlines, read full newspaper and magazine articles, etc. And none of this costs me a dime beyond the "everything" cell plan I have with Sprint, which is costing me less than the simple minutes-and-text message plan I had with Verizon.
- Television. Yes, I can watch TV. Real TV in real time, not just the stuff I download onto a memory chip. Not only can I get CNN, I can also get ABC, ABC News, Fox, NBC, Discovery, ESPN, E!, NFL Replay, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, Disney, etc., etc.
- Radio -- as many stations as I want.
- MP3 player. I can download my favorite tunes into the phone just like an Ipod shuffle.
- Camera - The phone comes with a 2 .0 megapixel regular camera plus a built in video camera. Output is directly to the computer with a connecting cord. Simple.
- Mapping and turn-by-turn GPS. This could be very useful at times.
- A full QWERTY key board. It's a bit small for the fingers, but because it's a touch screen it's larger than the tiny keys you get with a Blackberry. I like it. Ditto for the telephone pad which has huge numbers even I can find without my glasses.
- Movie Updates (what's playing where and when at local theatres is a simple click).
- Games -- I never play these, but there's a ton of them on this phone. And they are not Solitaire and Minesweeper, if you know what I mean.
- Notes: This phone will let me type in notes to myself and even hold sketches.
- Blue tooth connection which allows hands-free phoning in the car if I ever think I need it.
The phone cost $125, and comes with extra battery, phone charger, battery charger, earphones, and case. The new phone is a little bit bigger than the my old flip phone folded up, but it's about half the thickness of the flip phone, so it may actually have less mass. It comes with a very nice case and fits in the pocket unnoticed.
And no, I do not know how it all works yet.
That's the other end of Moore's law -- the machines get more powerful every few months, but our brains are not catching up.
Right now, however, I am pretty sure I am the coolest kid on the block. Or the biggest Geek. One of those, for sure.