Posts Tagged ‘virgin mobile’

Grass is Greener

14 April 2011

Dear J-

One of the truly dumb things I did was buy a smartphone. The temptation of having a full-bore connection to the Internet wherever I go (in the limited network) makes it incredibly tempting to pull out the phone and disconnect from the rest of the world at large. Plus the battery needs to be charged often and thus I’m ever vigilant/paranoid about keeping it topped off before heading out on trips or car rides. The phone in question is a low-end Android machine with a good service plan, assuming you have coverage, and has been held up as a prime example of why Android is winning the smartphone market over iOS (Apple) and WebOS (HP, neé Palm). Why would anyone pay more, right?

Well first off I agree that most service plans are a ripoff in this country, driven there by lax regulatory pressure (most of the people who complain about high prices are the same ones who turn a blind eye to anti-competitive market monopolization) and complacency along with the unknown handset subsidy costs built-in to that two-year contract. But having lived with all three systems (my favorite is WebOS, which would be great if it wasn’t for the limited choice of applications) and several devices there’s nothing enthusiastic to say about Android except that it’s competent and tweakable, but sometimes you’d rather just get things done than tweak and tweak. For instance, iOS now has native Bluetooth HID support built in (and I believe the latest iteration of WebOS does as well) but I can’t find something similar on Android without an extra-cost download. People decry the closed nature of iOS but when the focus is on doing the heavy lifting and getting out of the way of the usability of the item I’m all for it.

The particular device I’m using, a Samsung Instinct, has  a built-in hardware keyboard, the use of which disables all auto-correct and auto-suggest except for the most common contractions. I have never felt more illiterate in my life. The memory needs constant attention — when the available RAM drops much below 40MB all tasks run slowly, and so the one application that’s always running is an app to kill other apps (including itself) rather than the elegant card interface of WebOS that didn’t stutter as badly as this phone. Still, though, knowing the limitations it’s useable and useful besides, letting me consolidate my life and multiple gadgets into one place, which was the dream of five years back. I just think that should my carrier — Virgin Mobile USA — ever release an iOS or better yet WebOS device (it could even be a Prē or Prē Plus, I’m not picky) I’d drop this phone in a heartbeat.



Phone Jones

1 December 2008

Dear J-

At some point you end up upgrading your cell phone not because you need to, but because you want to.  We had a lively discussion on the various merits of different plans; suffice it to say that we’re on a service (Virgin Mobile) that isn’t necessarily the finest, or the most age-appropriate (the automated customer service voice menu grates on your ear), but does represent a good value; we paid a little more for phone hardware, but have recouped it (and a bit more) with the low service fees.  I wonder, though, if we don’t use the phones much because they’re so limited, connectivity and feature-wise, or if we’ve just developed the habit of not using phones much any more.

Witness, for instance, our lack of friends, and the complete and utter lack of importance (chances are that if you need to get one of us, someone will be at home).  We’re not mighty road warriors who need to, say, get instant directions or look up a restaurant’s phone number.  But maybe if we could, we would browse the web, right?  We don’t need something better, I just feel like we do.  The issue is that getting something more capable implies a need for something more capable, which may not be correct.

For instance, I’d like to have something that syncs with the address book on the computer, so I don’t have to keep manually adding and deleting entries in several different places.  A camera — a decent camera — might be nice once in a while.  It’s leading me to explore the idea of getting either something that’s unlocked and free to be used with a major-GSM-carrier prepaid SIM card, or to see what Verizon has available as their prepaid rates, now that they’ll support any clean CDMA phone on their network.  I continue to find myself amazed at the things this little Palm can do, and how responsive it is for being a derided, obsolescent operating system; Treos are plentiful and cheap, too.