Saturday, February 28, 2015

Time for a smart phone?

Technology has passed us by.
For several days this week our Triple Play wasn't working. That's advertising-speak to say that our TV, internet, and telephone weren't working. Those are all things that I can certainly live without, but golly, they are really convenient. If we didn't have any of them on a regular basis, we'd have to change the way we do things here.

First of all, there's the weather. During this season of ice and snow, we do a lot of checking of the weather and the road conditions. This helps us to plan our day to travel in the safest way. We usually do this with the TV local news or local weather channel. Also, we sometimes use the internet to get the same information. The first morning of the outage, I was at a loss until Ward reminded me that we could use old fashioned radio waves to get the information we needed. So we turned on the radio and found out what we needed--sort of. We didn't get all the details we wanted during the 30 second-blurb that happens every ten minutes. We got some generalities, but the not the specifics for our out-of-the-way community.

Next, we have a very serious family situation going on right now in which there are frequent updates. Many of these are done with email with the occasional phone call. The internet is definitely missed in this situation. And during this very serious time, our nerves have been on edge. And when this happens, I find old reruns of Andy Griffith and I Love Lucy the most calming for me. Ward plays a couple of different computer games to slow his thoughts down. Those were not an option when we felt like we really needed them.

We could have handled all of these problems if we had had a smart phone*.

And you're probably thinking, "Okay, so they don't have a smart phone, don't they at least have a cell phone? Or what about at work? Couldn't they use the internet there?" Well, yes.

We do have cell phones--very old flip phones. In most circumstances, they have been just fine for our needs. However, their poor quality was noticeable during the important family calls. And yes, I can use the internet at work, but I'm not supposed to use it for personal reasons. Consequently, when changes were happening frequently with the family situation, I checked for updates, but not as often as I wanted.

So during the time when our Triple Play was out, I really missed all of our services for some serious and not so serious reasons. I thought about how nice it would have been to have a smart phone. I thought hard about it.

I have been almost ready to get a smart phone for a while now. I like the idea of having a good camera and the internet at my fingertips. I like the fact that you can pay for things with it and get good coupons and deals with it. (I really don't like the fact, that many of these are not available to those of us without smart phones.) And while not necessary, I like the fact that I can look up something easily. I have seen this feature used quite well during our book club discussions. And what about all of those Youtube videos and streaming tv shows I can watch on it.  And the list goes on. When I think about it, a smart phone is a miracle device.

So, am I going shopping for a smart phone today? Well, no. Everything is working again, so the edge is off. But soon, very soon I may join the 58% of Americans that already have one. Up until now, we have chosen not to spend the money on what we considered a luxury. However, it may be making it's way to the top of the list soon.

Do you have a smart phone?

*(We are really technologically challenged. We don't have a tablet either.)


  1. I don't have a smartphone either, though I do have a tablet, but only because CatMan bought me one a while back. I have mixed feelings about the whole idea. On the one hand, I agree that it really is "miracle technology" on the other hand, it seems that people have a very hard time making this technology work for them instead of the other way around.

    At the moment I really have no use for a smartphone, but that could change in the future. We'll have to see. I'll be curious to learn what you decide about it. I've heard that Republic Wireless and Tink are the best deals if you do decide to go for it. No clue whether that's true or not!

    1. I think I'll start doing some research even if I'm not ready to get one. I'm not willing to pay for a full data plan, so it may take some time to figure out a good deal.
      Thanks for the heads up about Republic Wireless and Tink. I'll put them on the top of my list.

  2. So funny you brought this up! I had lunch with a friend and we were talking about this very topic! We don't have smartphones, either. Last summer my son's baseball coach wanted to be able to text us about schedules and I had to confess that our phones couldn't even receive texts ... so when I stumbled on a Tracfone deal for $10 for a phone that had talk, text, and a very low-level internet connection which would allow me to stay w/my cheap Tracfone, I bought it. I have mixed feelings about the phone--the internet service is sooooooooo slow that it eats up all my minutes so I never use it. I really like being able to text ... but I'm like you, I'm waffling between "this isn't really a necessity" versus "there are some nice features on a smartphone that I'd like to have". The first thing I think of is easy access to weather and traffic conditions.

    I've checked into Ting, due to thefrugalgirl's recommendations, but it mainly uses Sprint towers and that doesn't work for our area. Tracfone has better smartphones than the one I currently use, but they use the "bucket" approach--if you use up the "internet bucket" but still have minutes left in the talk or text bucket, you still have to buy more minutes--they don't let you dip into the other buckets. That's a big turnoff for me.

    So I think you should be the first of us to take the leap and then do a review! ;) How's that for a plan??? Oh, BTW, we don't have a tablet either. I really have no need for that at all, so it isn't any kind of temptation for me.

    1. That's interesting the way that TracPhone works. However, I don't know if they still may be cheaper in the long run or not. They usually have some really good deals. I'll put them on the list, but remember to pay attention to the point you made about the different buckets on all phones.

    2. I think it's confusing to pick both a phone and a plan. Until I got my not-quite-smartphone, I didn't realize that different phones are more compatible for different plans, and I learned that you need to research what service providers will best service the area in which you need a phone. It's an issue for me because Verizon has the best service where I live, but in the town where I work, Sprint is a good option (but Verizon is supposed to be ok to use there, too). I seem to remember you saying that at least one of your sons is quite "techie"--he may be a great resource for you.

      BTW, it's "Ting", not "Tink", when you go to do your research. I'm completely bummed that Ting uses Sprint towers, because their method of pricing has a lot of appeal for me (you pay a minimal monthly base rate and then pay for what you use each month). For what it's worth, I've found helpful product reviews on Amazon. My yearly Tracfone card will be used up by summer so perhaps I'll be brave and join you on this smartphone journey ...

    3. My Tracfone contract is not up until November and I will probably have tons of minutes left. If you get another phone from them, you can transfer your minutes, I think. Both of my sons have resisted the smart phone bandwagon. It's not in their budget right now or let's say, they have chosen not to put it in their budget. Theo finally just got enough money to get internet service. However, they still seem to have a lot of knowledge, so I'll ask them. Or I'll go work on figuring out a closet organizer. We've only thought about doing that for about 5 years now. Oh, which project do we stop procrastinating on first?

  3. I do have a smart phone. Several years ago I was working (gratis of course) as a fundraiser for an organization. It seemed someone always needed to get in touch with me immediately, so I broke down and bought one for the email ability. It did not take me long to get on the bandwagon, and how nice to be visiting a different city and being able to google and find exactly where things are. In fact a couple of years later I got and Ipad for my birthday and thought it was a complete waste of money. Wrong, I am a total ereader now and love knowing that if I am in bed and need to know the only geothermal heated city in the world, I can find it.
    Only problem is my Ipad is not 4g so it does require a working internet connection. Not so with my phone.

    1. I think I would love a smart phone if I got one. I just don't want to add the expense of paying for all the features and time that make it worthwhile. However, I really haven't done any research in this area, so I guess I should do that before I rule it out.

      Reykjavík? That is what first comes to mind for the city heated geothermally. Is that right?

  4. First, I hope your family member is doing better.

    I do have a smart phone. It wasn't something I ever considered but when my phone died and my son who worked for the cell phone company and had second hand phones arrived to replace my dead one it was a smart phone. he thought it was time I joined the rest of the world :-) I am fine having it and it's nice to be able to check email I especially enjoyed having Skype on my phone to talk to the grandchildren. Is it necessary? No, I would still be fine with a flip phone if I had to purchase another phone.

    1. Thanks for your concern about my family member.

      How very nice that your son helped you "join the rest of the world" when he gave you a phone. I wish someone would do that here. That would be an easy way for me to make a decision about both getting a phone and which one to get. I bet you really do appreciate being able to Skype with your grandkids (and son) with your phone.

      (BTW, Lois. I still cant' get the comments to work for me on your blog.)


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