Monday, July 21, 2008

The Revolution Will Be Televised On Your Phone

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.

  • Calculator

  • Clock

  • Calendar

  • 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.


Caveat said...


I guess the next step is implants that run on metabolic byproducts and play everything in your head, on demand?

Lisa said...

Soon cellphones will replace our computers as these will have all the functions.

gabboon said...

you do know that once you have the phone in hand it is no longer the latest?

Looking forward to your report. I was thinking about getting one of these but I had upgraded my phone just a few weeks before they announced this one.

As someone who is often on the fringes of reception I have found that Sprint seems to be the best in this area. i even get service at my owl research site, located next to some government facility that seems to block out cell signals.

dr. hypercube said...

Good info. We're going to be doing the upgrade thing this week - different carrier/reception landscape up here in the hinterlands. On the note taking/reminder front, permit me to recommend Jott ( - I blogged it recently) - I'm loving the reminder function (since my mind has become an aged seive)...

PBurns said...

Best trick yesterday, other than watching live TV while walking down the street, was talking into the phone>

"Go to search" .... "Coffee" and it turns up all the coffee spots within a few miles of me. I select one, hit a button, and the phone talks to me giving me turn-by-turn directions to the coffee spot (and a map too of course). The "news" reader function is great too. Plus it gets my gmail (pre-loaded for that).


Anonymous said...

does it locate dogs in the ground?

PBurns said...

Almost. It will give me turn-by-turn directions to get to the farms, and I think the GPS may be able to show me where I am on my farms if I ever get truly lost (which is possible on a few thousand acres with woods). I just mapped down a creek I have hunted to see where it cross the next road. Now I can knock-knock on the next farm up and hunt down the other direction on the same creek. Neat!


Anonymous said...

I should be jealous, but I am too technology challenged. I am delighted with my fairly simple Motorola Trac-fone. I only use my cell for emergency calls and the occasional "I'm at the supermarket, do you need anything" type calls.

However, I will still live vicariously through you.

M. Evans