HAWKINS: Muddle throught the minutia when cell phone hunting - Odessa American: Celinda Hawkins

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HAWKINS: Muddle throught the minutia when cell phone hunting

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Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:39 pm, Sat Sep 1, 2012.

I don’t know about you, but I get disgusted with my cell phone every day.

My colleagues all have smart phones and they are on them all day – giddily texting, calling, tweeting and looking up stuff – basically multi-multi tasking.

Most everyone has some sort of plan that makes sure they can call, text, check email and tweet all day for a set price.

But be careful! There may be some charges that sneak up on you. Well, they don’t really sneak, when you get the bill, it’ll hit you like a ton of bricks -– I know, I still have a concussion.

Be sure to check before you make a call, particularly from a cell phone to a landline, because they do charge you for that. Some plans allow, you say, 1,500 anytime minutes, free texting and free-for-all calling after 7 p.m. But just to be sure I called a cell phone provider and found that after the anytime minutes are used up – you have pay 40 cents a minute for a cell phone call to a landline. Cha-ching, who knew? I’m pretty sure all the providers charge for this -– check your plan.

And, the gal at the phone store offered up a free piece of advice.

If you have the “call everybody after 7 p.m.” plan, don’t make your call at 6:59 p.m.

“It will charge you until you hang up on that call,” she explained. So, if your call is 45 minutes long, you’re going to be billed $18. Ouch! And we thought they were through charging outrageous rates for long distance and other services.

So I thought I’d start two years early to shop for a new plan and a new phone. It takes that long to get through the entire minutia and come to a rational decision. As for the plan, I’m researching that.

As for the phone -– I’m thinking I’ll need something a little larger than my newish Blackberry flip -- a smart phone I’m not smart enough to operate.

Originally I selected the Blackberry because being new to texting I wanted a keyboard. I wasn’t ready for the touch screen iPhones or Androids. But boy are Blackberrys complicated.

So I turned to Jonathan Geller’s “Boy Genius Report” -– a tech blog where he critiques different devices.

Over the past few months, he has written about the Samsung Galaxy Note several times. This phone was released recently and may be just the ticket for those of us who have a problem with the small touch screens and well, vision.

This sucker, called “the Monster,” is three inches wide and almost six inches long. Geller says folks look stupid talking on it. And if you are a person who likes to slip your phone into your jeans pocket – you’re going to have to get some Levi’s with the traditional back pockets large enough to hold the phone -– or in my case a larger purse.

This is according to Geller “an effort by manufacturers to top one another with ever-larger phones.”

“This trend goes against all reason. A larger phone is more trouble to carry around than a small one, it’s harder to hold and use with one hand, it usually gets worse battery life, and when you put it up to your ear, you’re liable to get swept up by a strong gust. There’s only one way a big phone outshines a small phone, and for a certain segment of the market, it’s crucial: When you whip a phone as big as the Galaxy Note out of your pants, some dudes will think you’re a god.”

And maybe (Jonathan) tech-impaired gals need bigger stuff, like me and lots of other folks I know. Plus, this one functions as a phone and a tablet and you can take notes with the stylus.

Back in the day, bigger was well, all we had. I remember the first phones -– no not the ones like Deputy Barney Fife and Sheriff Andy Taylor used when they had to call Sarah the operator to dial out – come on, I’m not that old. But the brick phones in a bag. Geller reminds us of Gordon Geckko’s phone in “Wallstreet” which was a Motorola DynaTAC, and in 1983 was the first cell phone to be sold at $4,000. It was 13 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide and 1.75 inches thick– and if you had one – you were rich, and cool.

Reminds me of a flashback in an episode of “Hot In Cleveland,” when the soap opera gal gets a “cellular phone.” Valerie Bertinelli marvels: “Wow that is so small,” and the other gal says “I know, right!”

Then all the sudden there was a race to make cell phones so small they almost disappeared. In the early 90s, I watched as a friend pulled a phone out that was about as big as a matchbook. She then unfolded it, and pulled antennae from each end, one was the antennae the other was the part you speak in to. But I’m leaning toward the Samsung Note that Geller dubbed “enormo-phone,” because it will serve a dual purpose – as a phone and a tablet and a mini-computer.

Maybe like Geller says, it can also serve as a cafeteria tray and a full body riot shield. Good enough.


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