Freedom From Choice

Decided finally to stop being a total phone luddite. A and I currently share one phone, with an emergency-only calling plan. Anything over 15 minutes / month and we pay through the nose. We’re going to get a pair of phones that we will actually carry around and use, and a plan with real, usable minutes.

Interested in good reception / coverage, bluetooth / Mac sync compatibility, small form factor, and a built-in camera. Turns out that’s a bit like a quest for the holy grail. Three major transmission technologies, four or five major carriers, dozens of this-and-that features, and hundreds of phones to choose from. Overall, found the shopping experience totally overwhelming. An embarrassment of riches.

“Freedom from choice / is what you want

Freedom of choice / is what you got”
–Devo

Although Bluetooth / Mac sync sounds attractive at first, I think that’s probably the feature I can most easily dispense with. It’s the wee camera that I really want :) And after palming a bunch of phones, have to admit I’m really into the idea of very small, unobtrusive, lozenge-like. Samsung E715 is at the top of my list as of right now. Is T-Mobile a decent network in the Bay Area?

Speaking of phones, went to see Monster with Amy the other day (disturbing, intense) and the woman sitting next to us not only failed to turn her phone off when the movie started, she actually answered it! She sat there talking on her phone right next to us. Amy tapped her arm and asked her to pipe down. When she didn’t I shot her a look and a hushed epithet. For this she flipped us the bird. What goes on in people’s heads? Seriously messed up, dude.

Update: Finally decided on a pair of LG VX6000 camera phones on the Verizon network. Details in the comments.

Music: Will Oldham :: Let The Wires Ring

24 Replies to “Freedom From Choice”

  1. Well now you got me talking ;)

    The phone you want will be coming out soon and is called the Nokia 6620. It is the spiced up version of the Nokia 6600 which I just got (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000YQ3M0/)

    Of course, it is only available in the second quarter of 2004 but the phone is a killer:
    http://www.infosyncworld.com/news/n/4494.html

    A quick rundown of mine, which is the above minus EDGE (faster paket data network, like GRPS*2) and a few minor items. I can sync with the Mac (currently just need to change the settings for the 3650 from Nokia), I have bluetooth, I have a decent 640×480 resolution for the images, I have full eMail access, always on IM via Agilemessenger for ICQ, MSM, AOL, Yahoo!, … Opera as a browser which reformats the pages you look at.

    I now have miniGPS installed as a trial which remembers the telecom towers you are connected to. I can then say “If you see the towers you know from work, sound an alarm (so I wake up on the way to work) and switch to the work profile.”

    All in all, one of the best phones out there at the moment, no questions asked.

    The samsung is nice though, but I needed to tell you about the 6620 :)

    So much for that. :)

  2. When (if?) I replace my phone I would really like the Sony Ericsson T610. It has Bluetooth, Camera etc. Can’t comment on quality of service as (a) I’m in the UK and (b) I’ve never used it.

    On the stupid woman in the cinema: we have two quiet carriages (out of 8) on some of the trains here. My boss got into a shouting match with someone who flagrantly ignored the “no mobiles” diktat, until one of his companions pointed out that he was probably causing more noise that the offending mobile-user was ;)

    It’s one of life’s big crappinesses: you go out of your way to obey stop-lights, speed-limits, no smoking (doesn’t apply to me, as I don’t smoke) etc etc, then some other muppet, who clearly doesn’t give a flying monkey, comes along and ruins it all for everyone else.

  3. As for the T610, yes it seems to be a very nice phone. I’d take a picture part as a snapshot thing with very low quality, but possibly enough for a small moblog. I have several people here who have it and are reasonably happy with it. It seems that the joystick sticks out a bit too far and that means that if you carry it in your pocket unprotected you might turn the screen on from time to time and that drains the battery.

    Of course if you really want to take it further, get a bluetooth phone and the Nokia Digital Pen with bluetooth and you can penblog ;)

  4. BlueTooth OS X AddressBook syncing is _very_ attractive, Scot. That is, if you use AddressBook intensively… I have been using it for a year now, and it’s the feature I love most (about my cellphone).

    As for the Sony Ericsson phones, they’re toys. I still regret buying the T68i a year ago, but it was one of the few Mac-syncable phones at that time. Otherwise, the T68i is a joke, and its successors aren’t much better. You see, the problem with all of the S/E phones is their UI. Nice features and attractive packages and all that, but the UI’s responsiveness is beyond slow and makes you hate the phones after a while.

    The Nokia 6620 (6625 in Europe) on the other hand is as professional as phones can be. A solid business workhorse with incredible features, a real snappy UI, and good-looking as well.

    Samsung’s (and Motorola’s) aren’t used much over here, because they have a bad rep for quality.

  5. I’d have been going to the Theater People and getting me a free set of tickets and have them take care of the nuisance.

    You’re right though, what is going on in the heads of people? Maybe she can’t read 4ft tall letters.

  6. Oliver, thanks for the info on the 6620! You’re right – it does sound like the perfect do-it-all phone. But I have to wait… hmm, maybe I should get a free phone now and then upgrade to the 6620 when it arrives.

    As far as you know though, no major problems with the Samsung?

    Guy, thanks for the tip on the T68 — I do remember playing with one and finding it kinda slow. And I’ve heard elsewhere that they’re somewhat fragile.

    I use Entourage rather than Address Book so whatever I end up with, I’ll need to investigate iSync conduits for that.

    When you say Samsung and Moto phones have a bad rep for quality, are you referring to call quality, interface, ruggedness… ?

  7. Scot, what’s your take on Vonage, the so-called “broadband phone company”? The hype sounds almost too good to be true; however, I’ve heard there are serious lag issues. Apparently you can have a ham sandwich in the time it takes for the voice/data transmissions to go there and back.

    (slightly off topic — sorry)

  8. for some reason, my nokia 3650 rocks over the t68i in terms of UI design and responsiveness, regardless of the OS. (my t68i ate it in the accident. the screen did anyways. still works for whatever i can do without looking at the screen… adn the screen makes pretty swirly designs…)

    i’m glad i bought the 3650. better pic quality (and sound quality to me) than the LG that my gf has. stupid keypad, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

    my t68i reception sucked too. always blamed t-mobile (now have att) but from what i’ve read, the SE reception leaves a lot to be desired as well. it WAS a cute phone though.

  9. Lou, I’ve never tried any of their products, but I think they’re on the right track. VOIP etc are going to be THE hot spots in the next five years. The telcos will either catch on or die a horrible death.

  10. Thanks for the plugs mneptok. You’ve pretty much got it down to the models I’ve been looking at. All of these phones have +s and -s… the S-E T610 and T616 have most of the features I want but aren’t flip phones and are just plain fugly, IMHO. I really did get hooked on the idea of a flip phone.

    The t68i is the classic HOT phone for OS X, but I’ve just seen too many people (you excepted) complaining about the UI speed.

    baald loves his Nokia 3560 but I found the form factor not quite right for me.

    In the end I decided to bail on Mac sync, which is OK. Load it up once in an hour and how often do those addresses change? Hardly ever. And for transferring images, I’m fine with emailing the few that deserve transferring.

    So what did we get? We opted for sexy and the best quality network. Consumer Reports was very high on Verizon, and very high on LG phones. When I got my hands on one at the Verizon store, I kind of fell in love, and went for it. Can’t have it all, but this is plenty close. And it fits in my pocket like a smooth little lozenge. And has that bitchen’ blue LED display on the cover. Camera, great reception nationally, sexy… I’m happy.

    Oh — it’s the LG VX6000. His and hers. :)

    Feel like I’ve run an info marathon in the past two days. Zero to … maybe 30 in 48 hours, but still just scratching the surface. So much conflicting information, so many personal preferences. I think we’ll dig these phones though.

  11. My take on the networks:

    Verizon has the best network (quality and coverage) and the worst cell phone choices. Their customer service is actually really good (how on earth this is possible given my other experiences with Verizon, I have do idea)!

    Whenever I talk to a friend who has ATT they always get cutoff or I can’t hear them through the static.

    T-Mobile has the worst coverage, but the coolest phones.

    So if you do a moderate amount of traveling T-Mobile might be infuriating as every other place you go is roaming (at least that’s my thinking when I looked at their coverage maps as compared to Verizon). T-Modile tends to stick to urban areas and the highway, and even then it didn’t look that great whereas Verizon had most of the country covered. Things may be different on the West Coast though — your mileage may vary.

    Hope that helps.

    As for your movie experience… wtf?! Your story reminds me of an experience my girlfriend had on the road in Georgetown the other week. A woman was behind her trying to weave in and out of traffic (mind you this is an area that is standard-bumper-to-bumper) and almost hit her a couple times, including several attempts to pass on the right. The woman was both talking on a cell phone AND smoking. When my girlfriend looked over and did the “what are you doing” shrug and contorted-disturbed-face the woman just flipped her the bird and kept going… she then almost hit a couple other people.

    This kind of acute behavior just reminds me that all of history’s ugliness is not quite as extrodiary as we would like to think.

  12. It was amazing to see the coverage maps at T-Mobile, then to see the same map at Verizon. No comparison. Not even close. Granted, it’s not like I’m wandering the nation all the time, but I don’t like the idea of leaving the county and my rates shooting through the roof either.

    Don’t even get me started on people in traffic :)

  13. wow, I use this devo quote all the time relating it to nearly all topics of converstion in one way or another. One of the greatest pop theories to emerge from the entire punk/new wave movement. I think I shall work it into a coversation today.

  14. oh, forgot..

    RE:phone woman.. I went to see Jay Farrar the other night, Dallas has a big problem with people talking at live shows. I asked two chit chatty girls in front of me to shut up and listen to the show, fully expecting the bird to make an appearance. Instead I got an apology. Can you beleive it, an honest to goodness apology. A tiny ray of hope shines upon this bleak earth.

  15. Scot,
    Had to belatedly chime in that it’s probably good that you went to Verizon, though in my experience their customer service and pricing are classic phone company torture. Reception up on campus can be iffy with some companies, people with Sprint had a horrible time at school, and some others were problems. I got reception on my old verizon way up in the depths of the lab on the hill, and good all over El Cerrito, LA, Santa Cruz, Portland, and some even in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

  16. i have verizon but their reception is iffy tho’ better than at&t (don’t mock me). anyway, the best reception all around i’ve seen is Nextel, tho’ i’ve no idea about their plan (individual or uber).

  17. griff, I just tracked down a DVD compendium of Devo videos, and in the commentary section they talk about how that line is a quote from some existential philosopher. But who it is escapes me at the moment. Devo and existentialists. Who woulda thunk?

  18. RE: woman on cell phone. surprised mnep didn’t beat me to telling this story. we went to see Return of the King and ended up with a woman and her 4 year old (yes, he was 4 and not the only young child in the theater!) in front of us. movie begins and the kid starts talking up a storm. i shushed him and his mother turns around and tells me not to shush her child that it is a free world and he can talk if he wants to. i told her yes it is a free world and that allows me to go talk to the manager about this issue. came back from talking with manager and the woman tells me not to talk to her or her child or she’ll file a harassment suit against us. manager comes and talks to her and then gives us two free tickets. woman ends up leaving an hour into the movie. gee, ya think a 4 year old is going to sit through a 3 1/2 hour movie?

  19. My samsung e715 phone crashes when it goes to a big web page (with a lot of text, no images). It also scrolls slowly. For this reason, I do not use WAP/GPRS even though I am paying monthly.

    After a few weeks experience with the phone however, there are a couple of things positive and negative:
    * in my concrete office bunker, we have AT&T microcells, but T-mobile service will not roam on them, even though e715 shows 5 bar signal strength, so i am still without coverage at work.
    * have dropped phone face down onto hard floor a couple of times and it didn’t get damaged.

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