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day permlink Sunday, 1 July 2007

permlink New phones

Our two-year cell phone contracts came up for renewal again, and a little over a week ago we both upgraded significantly.

For the first time, we've opted for models above the lamest/cheapest you can obtain, and for the first time, we've diverged -- Medley opted for the latest Blackberry since it can handle her work email system, open attachments and do all sorts of awesome tricks, whereas I primarily want to be able to write/type things wherever I am (and don't care as much about getting my email on my phone), so I went for a fuller-size keyboard in the LG enV.

Last Saturday was the earliest opportunity we had to go get them, and so we snatched them up and spent a good part of that afternoon/evening putting them through their paces. (We even skipped using our cheap season tickets to go see the Nats play; good thing, as they completely bungled the 9th inning, holy cow. It was depressing enough on the radio.)

Since we both knew by then exactly what we wanted, the whole Verizon store experience was almost quick & painless. We got in & out in about a half hour.

Medley's put together a post about her Blackberry. Herewith, my observations about the LG enV:

  • Why not a Blackberry?

    • I don't have nearly the amount of enforced-idle-time that Medley does; I don't have to sit on the Metro for long stretches. That means I don't have nearly as much time away from a proper computer (at either work or home) in which I would keenly feel the need for a highly capable general-purpose device like a Blackberry.

      (Or more accurately, I do spend a lot of time away from a computer, but I spend it in Beltway traffic, 50 minutes each way in the morning & evening to travel <20 miles. Not conducive to handheld device usage.)

    • The Blackberry does do all sorts of neat sync-with-Microsoft-Exchange voodoo, but I can live happily without that. I don't really have the urge to handle my email from my handheld at all.

    • The data plan for the enV is 1/3 the cost of the data plan for the Blackberry. That right there was just about reason enough...

    • enV has a much bigger keyboard, and I wanted my phone to be easy to type on. I know, the Blackberry's keyboard is fine; but why settle for the teeny keys if you don't have to?

  • I wasn't expecting much in the way of Web access, but the enV does have it. However, the Verizon web client (Openwave Systems Mobile Browser is really ugly/inconvenient. (I can see why everyone's drooling over having a proper browser like Safari on the iPhone.)

    • Every page you go to, you have to scroll down line by line; as far as I can tell there's no way to say 'Page Up/Down' or 'End' or 'Home'. Anyone with clues as to what tricks there are for making the browser more usable, please pipe up.

      The first three keytaps you have to do to scroll down on every one of the built-in website pages take you past the same three links in a top toolbar - 'Home', 'Favorites' and 'Search'. (Even when you go to the Home or Favorites page, you have to pass over the Home/Favorites/Search links to get to the actual content. This is Broken.)

      Plus there are ads everywhere which I don't think you can get rid of, even if you were willing to pay to.

    • There seems to be no way to cut, copy, or paste text. Alas.

    • Unlike the Blackberry, you can't pick up a web browsing session from where you left off before; each time you've closed up the phone, you have to restart the browser from scratch. Ugh.

  • Gmail has done some very nice things with their mobile interface -- it senses that you're on a mobile device and provides custom shortcuts to waste less of your time (typing 8 starts a new msg, no matter where you are on the page). More sites should be this smart about mobile browsing. (There's supposedly a 'faster Gmail' custom-app option, but it's not compatible with this phone, so I'm making do with the web interface.)

  • It was fun to browse the ringtones you can purchase, but honestly it's just going to be vibrating, so why bother? (If I did go for one it would be one of the Weird Al ringtones. He's made several; I think my favorite is the one of him screaming 'AAAAAaaaagh! .......... AAAAAaaaagh! ......... '.)

  • Great Scott, man, why not wait a week for an iPhone?

    • It's AT&T-only and I live in DC, where Verizon is the network to be on if you want decent access on the Metro. At least for now.

    • As someone smart said, today's iPhone is the worst iPhone that will ever exist. It'll only get better & cheaper; I'm ok with waiting for another couple of generations and models. (I held out on the iPod until the 5th version came out, though admittedly iPod v. 1 was nowhere near as cool as iPhone v. 1.)

    • $$. I'm getting plenty of an upgrade from my old lame phone for a fraction of the cost of the iPhone. Why pay more?

      I can wait till the next contract-renewal comes up in 2 years, then I'll probably bite.

  • So, you don't want to do much email on your device, but you want a keyboard so you can type... um, wha?

    • Basically I want to take more of my wasted idle time (occasional metro rides, waiting rooms, some lunches) and use it to compose more & better blog entries.

      No, really. See, here's one.


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