2015: Personal Technology Review

How did my use of technology change during 2015? The short answer is that it increased. For example, I just deposited a check using my phone, and that’s something I never did in previous years.

That phone is a Droid Maxx, made by Motorola for Verizon. My iPhone turned in to a brick earlier this year. From among the phones available from or for Verizon Wireless, the Maxx seemed to me the best deal. This may be due to the particular wireless plan I was already in. The iPhones were by comparison overpriced.

I was happy with my new phone until, after a few months, it went into spiral of frantic uselessness, in which it would do nothing but restart until it ran out of power. Staff at the Verizon store agreed that it should be replaced, and replaced it was.

My second Maxx is behaving well so far. I like multiple things about it, especially the size of the screen. I’m not missing my iPhone. But I haven’t abandoned Apple: the two iPads in the house are in frequent use by the kids and by me. Continue reading “2015: Personal Technology Review”

Android G1 Charges On

My Android G1 is getting old. The phone itself is a little over two years old. The design is rather older: “Google’s first Android phone, the HTC-made T-Mobile G1, wasn’t much to look at when it debuted in October 2008” (quote and image from a CNET history of the Android era).

A month or two ago, the G1 started running even more slowly than usual, and powering off when required to do what it regarded as heavy work (such as being told we needed to move around a map). A new battery has fixed the problem.

So, the good news is that I don’t need a new phone. The bad news? I don’t need a new phone.

Actually, there is more good news than that. There are some newish apps that condescend to run on the G1 and Android V1.6 (Donut, which of course is way toward the back in the illustration): Amazon Cloud Player, for example (but not Google Music). Maps and navigation work pretty well now they have a new battery to chew on.

For a mobile gadget that actually seems to belong in the current year, and has a big enough screen for reading, games, etc., there’s the iPad 2. To add to the good news, and to the contrast with the iPad, the G1 rarely gets hijacked by other family members.

AT&T, T-Mobile, August, etc.

The big tech/business story of the week is the AT&T/T-Mobile deal: AT&T wants to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom, and Telekom wants to sell, given the $39 billion price tag. One of the things I mean by “big” is “lots of coverage.”

If I had to pick two pieces of required reading, the first would be Om’s account of who loses in this deal. “It’s hard to find winners, apart from AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders.” I can’t see that consumers will win from a deal that reduces the number of mobile phone competitors in the USA to two (or three, if you’re Sprint, or a lawyer for AT&T).

The second piece of required reading was the agreement on my T-Mobile G1 phone, to see when the agreement expires. It expires in August this year. I expect the regulatory scrutiny to last beyond then. I’m not sure what I’ll do for a phone after August…

Happy Nexus One Day

If you don’t already know that the Nexus One was launched today, you’re probably not interested in the new Android phone anyway. If you are interested, you may well have seen the 24 month cost of ownership comparison between the N1, the iPhone 3GS, and a couple of other smartphones. It makes the N1 look like a pretty reasonable deal.

Just three comments:

Foaming About Phones

I currently have three phone numbers. I must confess that one is a landline. It’s on the same Verizon bill as our internet access. It’s pretty reliable, but seems expensive, and I doubt that we’ll have a landline after we move.

We recently got some voicemails from Verizon about voicemail. Apparently the system will soon be upgraded, and the upgrade will not be completely automatic for all customers: some manual intervention will be required.

I’m surprised that I haven’t heard about this upgrade from other sources. I can find nothing about it at Verizon.com. I’ve seen nothing about it in Boston media, although I should confess that I haven’t made a systematic search of either old or new local media.

My second number is for my cellphone, or was until my cellphone recently died. I use a T-Mobile prepaid plan. I previously posted about T-Mobile’s customer service, or lack thereof. My more recent experience is that service is pretty good once I get through to a human being, but that I have to provide my phone number an inordinate number of times before that happens.

My third number is on GrandCentral. It will become a Google Voice number if I am ever able to access it.

But I can’t access my GrandCentral number. I’ve forgotten my password. Attempts to reset it just lead back to a page that prompts for the very password I’ve forgotten.

While I’m not thrilled with the service I get from Verizon and T-Mobile, at least there is service. That’s more than can be said for GrandGoogle.

Cell Me a Phone

We are about to enter the age of the Android. As Daniel Langendorf at last100 puts it: “The long-awaited Google phone will be announced next Tuesday… The phone, which features the first release of the Android operating system, will be available near the end of October.”

I’d like a Android phone. I also intend to ditch my current phone, and can do so with no early termination charge. That makes the timing seem good.

But I think that I’ll hold off until next year. That thought is reinforced by arguments such as: the first Android phone is primarily a novelty. I’ll add that the HTC Dream is novel in its ugliness.

But my main reason for holding off on Android is that I expect the next few months to see a lot of bug-fixing, new handsets (not all of which are ugly), and application development and porting. So some time next year, perhaps in the spring, might be the time to invest in Android.

So what should I do for a cellphone for the next 6 or so months? I obviously don’t want to lock in to a plan for 2 years. I’ve never wanted to do that, and I certainly shouldn’t do it right now.

T-Mobile prepaid plans seem to rate fairly well. Since T-M is the carrier for Android (right now, the only carrier), it’ll be good to check out the T-M network. Since a Nokia 1208 is currently available from T-M for less than the value of the prepaid card they throw in with it, there doesn’t seem to be much risk. I certainly don’t fear that T-M will be worse than TracFone, which I have endured for too long now.

By the way, I know that the Nokia 1208 is a very basic phone. That’s fine by me for the moment. In fact, I rather like the fact that it draws reviews like this.

I have this phone and i am very mad. man shop telling me phone good but when i get home there be no camera bluetooth and memory card. do not be buying. You should not buy this phone will only make phone calls texts and nothing else, what is the point in that? havin a phone that only make calls. Be warned Nokia!!!

Comments and advice welcome…