Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm Kristie, and I'm a Gadget-holic...

...and also an iPhone convert. I'll back up...

Since Eric and I got married, there have been many decisions to make about merging our possessions, health insurance, dentist,taxes (that was fun!) etc. Two things have been looming over us: car insurance and cell phone servers.

I'm happy to say that one of those is now done, and it isn't car insurance! (I have insurance, but we haven't joined our plans yet.)

Having different cell phone servers is almost like being of different religions or political parties...each provider thinks is they are the best. Each one can tell you what is wrong with the others. Each one will tell you what will happen if you don't use theirs. Each one makes it hard to leave.

What to do? Eric was with AT&T, I was with Verizon. I have been with Verizon since 1996 when I got my first little StarTac cell phone. (Remember those?)Eventually having a couple of LG "candy bar" shaped phones (couldn't find pictures.) Then there seemed to be a period of time when the thing was to find the smallest phone possible:

(Actually it has been kind of fun to look up images of past phones.)

Then the "smart phones" stated to make their way onto the scene. For a while it was a battle of the Palm and the Blackberries. The Palm attracted me because of the touch screen and the QUERTY keyboard. I LOVED my Palm, and still remember it with affection, even though it basically died at the end of 2 years, which was convenient because that is when we're all eligible for a new phone anyway. But it had its little stylus and internet and email and was just cool. You couldn't add apps or anything, but I didn't care. It still felt like a little computer in my hand. Of course, the price you paid for all the bells and whistles was that the phone was bulky.

I mainly jumped on the smartphone bandwagon because the internet filter at my district was really strong and I couldn't even get my email. I felt really cut off not being able to check my email for hours. Enter smartphone.

Quick story: one time when I was having a REALLY stressful day at school I had my Palm next to my Trader Joe's salad container and accidentally threw my phone into the trash. School ended a couple of hours later and...where was my phone? I had no idea what I'd done. I looked everywhere, and eventually went into the office and had one of the office workers continuously call the number so I could try and track it down by sound. A nerve-wracking half an hour later I heard my ringtone coming from one of the trashcans in the staff lunch room. Suddenly I realized what must have happened. I had to fish it out of the trash, BIG yuck, and clean it off. I got really lucky, it was a lot cleaner than it could've been! (Someone had dumped some unwanted beans right next to it.)

When my Palm began to die, there was really only one choice for a smartphone through Verizon, and that was the Blackberry, because Palm was retooling their smartphones and the one I'd had was now obsolete. There was an LG phone that was all touchscreen, but I preferred giving up the touchscreen feature in order to have a keyboard.

I settled on the Blackberry Curve shortly before the touchscreen Storm came out (the Storm never really did much for me) and as my cousins who use AT&T were raving about their new iPhones. Not an issue. Verizon didn't have iPhones, and I had no plans to leave Verizon, so the iPhone mystery would have to remain that, a mystery.

My Blackberry served me well these last 2 years. I got pretty quick with thumb texting, there were a few apps available for download and I even had a GPS feature on there for a while that worked pretty well (although I love my Garmin nuvi 1300 GPS much better.)

Once in a while I would tinker with the new phones that had touchscreens at the Verizon kiosks, never really seeing one that appealed to me, but always on the lookout for a new phone so I could make an informed decision when my 2 years ended.

All of that changed when Eric and I had to merge our plans. First we had to choose a provider. Would I leave Verizon or would he leave AT&T? I have had only good customer service with Verizon and would be sorry to leave, but up here in the small city of Longview, WA, it really became a reception issue. I have not been getting good reception up here with Verizon when I would call CA. It has happened several times.

LONG story short (can you say "ode to my cell phone history?") we decided on AT&T. Now to pick a phone. A new Blackberry curve like the one I had? An iPhone 3G or the new 4? Or one of the iPhone copycats, many of which are very good?

Oh, the pangs of curiosity! There are certainly benefits to going with the original that everyone is raving about. I learned that with my Microsoft Zune mP3 player. Great, great player, but everything out there is made for the iPod. Even the beautiful Bose speaker my mom bought has an iPod dock.

It is the same with the iPhone. All of the fun apps, cases, etc., are geared toward the iPhone.

The older 3G was only $50, the newer iPhone 4 was something like $199. The only difference is the shape and supposed speed. Eric said to get whatever I wanted, but I actually liked the feel of the 3G more than the 4. I could try it for a month with only a $5 restocking fee if I changed my mind. The Blackberry Curve--also $50, had a $35 restocking fee. (Coincidence? No, they push those iPhones.)

So, I walked out of there with an iPhone 3Gs.

24 hours later, never having looked at any directions, I was completely comfortable with it and the touchscreen keyboard, which requires me to type with fingertip and not fingernail. The apps are awesome and super easy, most are free. Organizing the screen to my desire is easy, and the phone is lightning fast. The video camera works awesome (the videos I would take on the Blackberry were terrible, always with inaudible, garbled sound.)

One day later I returned to the AT&T store and bought a case and screen protector.

One week later I'm still loving it.

Favorite apps?
  • the Kindle app, which is free, and lets me download the books I already have on my Kindle account for no extra charge.
  • the Scriptures, which was $ easy to navigate, and also have the hymns and many other accessories. I have the Scriptures on my Kindle too, but I think the iPhone version is actually easier to use. Faster, too.
  • Words with Friends, a word game favorite that is basically Scrabble with other owners of iPhones, either people you know or people you don't.
  • Facebook...good ol' Facebook, can't survive without it!
  • Twitter...I've had a Twitter account for ages, but the iPhone's simplicity makes it a lot easier to navigate throughout the site, so I've rediscovered Twitter and am using it a lot more.
  • weather...I found one I like much better than the one that came with the phone. It has been very accurate and had awesome graphics
And, of course, there are the fun ones like People magazine updates, a little piano app, Solitaire, Uno, Othello (a personal favorite game,) and many others.

At this point I'm just getting past that "I'm obsessed with my new gadget" phase that we all go through. I've had the phone for a week now and it feels like longer simply because I'm so very comfortable with it. I'm hoping that my mom gets one through Verizon when she's eligible for a new phone because it is so user-friendly.

Bottom line, gadgets are fun! They are a part of our lives now and they aren't going away, so it is good to know what is out there and to try what you can. My main gadgets: my Kindle, Zune, Garmin GPS, and iPhone are mainstays that each serve their own purposes and make my life easier and create a lot less clutter because of their storage capacities (the Kindle and Zune, mainly.)

Yes, I'm Kristie, and I'm a Gadget-holic. And happy to be.


Karen said...

I'm probably a little slower to explore new technology. Partly because I have an uncanny ability to get more than 2 years out of my cell phones (just weird luck), and partly because I get comfortable with what I know and don't want to bother figuring out something new. And then there's probably a cheap factor in there, too. =)

My kids, on the other hand, are the exact oppposite. Thank goodness they have no money. =)

Kristie said...

Haha! You're funny, Karen. I admire that your phones last more than 2 years. I've always just been naturally hard on stuff, probably because I'm always rushing. I broke the Swiffer the other day! As for gadgets, I'm determined I don't want to get left behind just because I'm getting older. Although, there are some things that I know I'll just never get or want or understand.

Sally said...

I'm not a Luddite and I'd love to have new gadgets but I am waaaay to cheap to buy them.

Kristie said...

Admittedly, the budget of a 7 person family and a 2 person family is bound to be different, but it is great that you keep up with what's out there. =)