Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why I Dumped my Smartphone

I was sitting in the choir loft doing what I shouldn't have been doing as the pastor slogged through the litrugy.  I had my smartphone out surfing the web.  I was reading all sorts of blogs, reading email and responding in between standing and sitting and bowing and singing the various responses.

That was in 2003.  I was one of the earliest adopters of the smartphone technology.  I had a Kyocera 6035.

Available only on Verizon's CDMA service, I was surfing the internet.  I  would tether it to my laptop and surf the net as I was driving down the freeway (actually, it was my wife doing the surfing).  It was sweet.  The only drawback was it would use up my talk time minutes.

Moving abroad
After that, I switched to T-Mobile because I was headed to Europe to work.  I purchased a Dell Axim PDA and learned how to bluetooth tether it to my T-Mobile phone and surf the net on the Axim.  Back then it was the GPRS data transfer protocol and incredibly slow.  But all the while I was in Europe I was surfing the internet, looking up maps and information.

And it was almost free. For a measly $5 a month, I was able to surf and sail the internet for no additional charge the whole time I was in Germany, the UK, France, Italy.  It didn't matter.  It was such a sense of freedom.  Later I got a T-Mobile Dash with EDGE and I was surfing faster and the price was still $5.  EDGE was more usable.  I was able to download files and even watch streaming video.  I used it in Italy doing google translations into Italian on the fly.  I could still tether it to my laptop or my PDA

Expanding Universe of the Internet - the Peak of Surfing
By 2005 there was a service available called LOGMEIN that was reasonably priced. It allowed me to see my computer Desktop back in the states (in fact, the service is free for getting access to your home computer desktop.  You only pay for file management).  Now, it didn't matter where I was. Using my Dell Axim  with LOGMEIN I could tap the raw power of my superfast computer at home and access files and maps and do deep internet surfing.  It was amazing and I was on the cutting edge of the technology.

But little did I know of what was going on back in the States to put the kibosh on all of this freedom.

Things Go Downhill - at the speed of 4G
But all that ended with 3G, then 4G.  When I was back in the States I made the horrible mistake of upgrading my phone to a T-Mobile Blur.  A miserable little Android phone if ever I saw one.  I tried to use it sparingly in Germany only to be slapped with a $1200 data bill.  To their credit, T-Mobile found (or created) a loophole such that I didn't have to pay the bill. They wrote it off.  I'm sure they were well aware of all the bad press of people getting slammed with huge roaming 3g charges.

But now, the amazing world of surfing the internet no matter where I was, no matter what I was doing had ended.  In fact, I could no longer even surf with EDGE.  T-Mobile was no longer offering plans that allowed you to use EDGE exclusively.

When in Rome...
So, while in Germany I finally plunked down the money for a prepaid iPhone. Just 3g - the Original.  But now I no longer had unlimited surfing.  They did allow tethering, but hey, how to take advantage of that was all in German.  I just lived with the situation.

Return to Disaster
So in 2010 I stepped off the plane back in the states only to find a completely changed scene.

First off, the 3G German iPhone, even though with T-Mobile Germany, was INCOMPATIBLE with 3g here in the USA.  Now it's just an expensive iPod Touch.

Intent on keeping my cellphone costs down, I tried Virgin Mobile with the Samsung Intercept phone.  But its 4G wasn't much faster that EDGE - or at least felt like it.  The only upside was that it was unlimited 4G data.

But by then, I had finally had it with the underpowered phones.  I was sick of the quirky Android OS.  I hated the fact I would run out of juice three quarters through the day.  I coudn't bluetooth my phone to my computer to surf the net anymore.  I couldn't even hard-tether to the computer to surf the net. (I know I could "root" the phone - but I'm talking about what companies allow you to do).

And using your cell phone as a hot spot? Well, that would cost you extra (with one of the other carriers)  and Virgin Mobile just flat would not allow it.  Ok, thanks for nothing.  But I'm still sick of running my phone down and missing phone calls because I had to turn my phone off to save battery power.

And then there is the problem with surfing limits.  You give me all this power and then you LIMIT ME?

The Solution to End All Solutions
I finally came to the realization that I would have to separate the two.  If I needed to surf the net, I needed a mobile hotspot.  I settled on the Clear Mobile Hotspot - the Clear Spot Voyager.  Unlimited 4G surfing within the city.  And I love it.

Why do I love it?  I no longer have the restraints that the idiotic phone companies have tried to put on me.  I don't need a "data sharing" plan (what a TERRIBLE IDEA).  I don't need to pay extra to tether to my phone - which only drains the battery anyway.  Anything with WIFI capability, which is just about everything, can now jump onto the hotspot and surf the web.  I don't need to pay extra for an "internet device" that surfs 3G such as a Kindle, iPad or iPod Touch.

The only downside with the Clear Spot Voyager is that it is only 4G and when outside the city there is no signal at all.  So, I bought my wife a T-Mobile Mobile Hotspot with about 1.5GB of data to take with us on out-of-town trips.

And what phone do I use?  I went back to my old trusty T-Mobile Dash with the EDGE capability.  I have a cheap no-contract cell phone plan with T-Mobile with a meager amount of data in case I'm in a jam and I need it.

And my phone stays juiced. All.  Day.  Long.

Freedom.  Again.

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