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Author Topic: Cell Phone recommendations?  (Read 10676 times)

Deozaan

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Cell Phone recommendations?
« on: April 12, 2009, 12:28:39 AM »
I've been happily and contentedly without a cell phone since last October and went purely to using Skype for all my phone needs. It's amazingly freeing not being interrupted by a phone all the time and not being able to even hear the phone ring (since all sound from the PC is routed through the headphones). It's been a peaceful, simple life.

However, that must come to an end now. It is now necessary for my wife and I to get cell phones. Since I generally hate talking to people on phones I never cared about what features they had since all I needed was something that would allow me to call other people. But this time I have certain requirements and I'm hoping that DC members can help suggest phones and/or service to meet my needs.

Here are my requirements:

  • Speaker Phone
  • Can do 3-way (or conference) calls
  • Can show video
  • Has a keyboard layout for easy text entry
  • Internet
  • Can store lots of contacts
  • GPS/Maps would be useful
  • BlueTooth would be useful as well

That's all I can think of for my needs for features. Here's some more information for you to help customize your responses to my wants/needs:

  • I found out recently that my netbook has something in it called 3G, which I think allows me to get internet access anywhere I have cell service or something like that. I supposed it would be useful to be able to make use of that, so if you know a phone that can do that and/or a service that provides that, I'd be interested in learning more.
  • I am generally a hater of Apple products for a variety of reasons, so I'm wary of the iPhone. But I won't let my prejudices get in the way of getting the right phone. If the iPhone really is that great, then maybe I'll consider the steep price tag and the two year commitment to AT&Ts services required to use it.
  • If you have a specific phone model for me, please also recommend some good accessories such as bluetooth headset/earpiece, car charger, etc.
  • If you can also provide price and where to buy, that would greatly be appreciated!
  • If you know specific phones/carriers/accessories to avoid, please let me know and explain why I should avoid them.

Thanks in advance!


kartal

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2009, 12:53:39 AM »
I own a palm treo 680(palmos) and I am very happy with it.  The main reason I got this one because it has a builtin keyboard. You might also try blackberry series.

tranglos

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2009, 07:14:56 AM »
A year ago I got Nokia E51, and I still like it a lot. It's got a lot of connectivity options, and satisfies all your requirements except that it doesn't have the full QWERTY keyboard. Its regular keyboard is fantastic though, probably the best tactile response I've seen in a cell phone. The 4-way joystick with the separate, fifth "Enter" button is a total win. Most of the time, like when you want to read a text message that's just arrived or set the alarm clock, you only need to click the middle Enter button a few times (i.e., the default actions are very well chosen). Lots of memory, expansion card slot, easy wifi, USB port, and plenty of Symbian apps to choose from if you like that sort of thing. The camera's probably the only weak point, but it does record video. Can double as an mp3 player, though there are phones better equipped for that. GPS is supported but not built in, you need an add-on module.

If I were buying today, I might go for Nokia E71, which is pretty much the same phone with a bigger screen and a full keyboard. But, it's much larger. In general, anything with a full keyboard won't fit comfortably in your pants pocket. Either that, or I'd give this BlackBerry a close look.

I'd like to discourage you from buying a phone just on net recommendations, though. Pick a few candidates, then go to a store and hold each phone in your hand, and make sure to try the keyboard. Some (most) cell-phone keyboards are very poorly manufactured. Either they're too hard to press, or you don't feel the keys click, or the keys are too small (or too funkily shaped) for comfortable typing. Pay particular attention to how the joystick or menu keys work, since you'll be using them the most. Nokia has a lot of models with extremely bad keyboards, but so do other manufacturers. Stay away from touch-screens (unless you are really certain you want one) and from the Samsung phones with the flat tactile keyboards (like this, though there are many models with the same keyboard design). Also, while a stylus looks cool, you really don't want a phone that requires both hands to operate.

Another way to choose a cell is to decide whether you'll be putting any applications on it and what kind, or if you'll need to synchronize data with your PC. Nokia smartphones are Symbian based, and while there is no shortage of available apps, they usually don't sync with anything on Windows. My favorite Calendarscope has a number of syncing options, but Symbian is not included. You'll have better luck with anything based on Windows Mobile. So in that case first choose the OS, then find a phone to match.



« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 07:23:25 AM by tranglos »

Eóin

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 07:54:49 AM »
I was a long time and very happy owner of a Nokia E70. It has full keyboard yet still fits fine in your pocket. Check here for a very biased and crude review from someone who is clearly also a happy owner.

It may be dated though, I mention it only because I can personally attest to it's quality. If I were going to go for another phone today I'd be looking for a more recent model. Instead though I went down the smartphone road, which as a techie I'm extremely happy with.

tranglos

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 08:04:59 AM »
I was a long time and very happy owner of a Nokia E70. It has full keyboard yet still fits fine in your pocket.

Ah, no fair! That's cheating! :)

Most full-keyboard phones these days are simply made wider to accomodate the keys, and most smartphones are somewhat thicker than "dumb" phones. One reason I chose E51 was that it's no bigger and no thicker than a basic no-frills phone. Heavier though, due to metal casing.

Deozaan

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 02:20:36 PM »
I'd like to discourage you from buying a phone just on net recommendations, though. Pick a few candidates, then go to a store and hold each phone in your hand, and make sure to try the keyboard.

The problem with that is most stores have display models which aren't built the same. I've played around with a display model and the buttons were very mushy and hard to press and generally sucked. Then I felt the real deal and they were much better.

Stay away from touch-screens (unless you are really certain you want one)

Why? What's wrong with them? I played around with a real iPhone last night and I was actually very surprised at how easy it was to type using the on-screen keyboard. And if you fat finger something you can just keep typing and it will recommend the word you probably meant to type. For instance, if you pressed "yjr" it would recommend "the" and all you have to do is press the space bar to automatically change it.

So in that case first choose the OS, then find a phone to match.

Speaking of OS, can anyone tell me about Android phones? Is that the OS or is Android something entirely different? And here's a related question: Any opinions on T-Mobile G1?

And does anyone have personal experience using 3G? Can you describe to me what it is and how it works? I read Wikipedia and other sources but I still don't think I understand what it is. Was I right when I said I thought it would allow me to have internet access on my PC anywhere I had cell service?

I was a long time and very happy owner of a Nokia E70. It has full keyboard yet still fits fine in your pocket.

That one looks great, but it doesn't have 3G in the US model (or maybe I'm reading this info wrong) and it doesn't have GPS either.

Instead though I went down the smartphone road, which as a techie I'm extremely happy with.

Where's the keyboard on that one? Is it all touch screen like the iPhone?


tranglos

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 02:42:34 PM »
I'd like to discourage you from buying a phone just on net recommendations, though. Pick a few candidates, then go to a store and hold each phone in your hand, and make sure to try the keyboard.

The problem with that is most stores have display models which aren't built the same. I've played around with a display model and the buttons were very mushy and hard to press and generally sucked. Then I felt the real deal and they were much better.


That's entirely possible, as is the reverse. I've been to stores where the display model was from a different batch than the ones they were selling. The last time I was in the US, I bought a pair of Nikon binoculars. The display model had a "Made in Japan" label, which convinced me to choose it over another brand - but when I unpacked it at home, the label on mine said "Made in China".

Stay away from touch-screens (unless you are really certain you want one)

Why? What's wrong with them? I played around with a real iPhone last night and I was actually very surprised at how easy it was to type using the on-screen keyboard. And if you fat finger something you can just keep typing and it will recommend the word you probably meant to type. For instance, if you pressed "yjr" it would recommend "the" and all you have to do is press the space bar to automatically change it.

That's why I said "unless you are really certain you want one". If you're OK with touchscreens, go for one. Personally, I need to feel the click of the keys. I've learned to touch-type text messages (i.e., no looking at the keyboard), which I imagine would be much harder with the touchscreen. But most of all I'd worry about smudging and damaging the screen.

I once bought two Palms - for myself and for my wife. That was back in the days when Palm had a monochrome display only, six years ago or so. The touchscreen in my wife's Palm gave us nothing but pain. Scrolling was completely off, you had to drag the stylus parallel to the scrollbar but not actually "on" it. Similarly, you had to click next to some buttons rather than on them, and certain buttons you couldn't click at all - the stylus didn't register. Neither resetting nor calibrating would help.

My specimen was fine initially, but after a few months it developed the same problems. Eventually we threw both to the garbage (bought in Taiwan, brought to Poland, the warranty was usseless). It put me off touchscreens for a while.

I now have a touchscreen gps in the car, and though the touchscreen makes sense in that setting, it's still very easy to get the click wrong. Scrolling the map by dragging with the finger is next to impossible, since as soon as you put the finger to the screen, it registers as a "single click", which refocuses the map on the point you touched. It takes a lot of patience to get it just right. So I definitely wouldn't want a touchscreen phone, but YMMV.

Deozaan

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2009, 09:44:09 PM »
By the way, I decided to go for the HTC G1.


J-Mac

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Re: Cell Phone recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2009, 10:32:08 PM »
I'm looking also - dreadful chore! I used to be a handheld freak. I had two Symbian web sites and a Pocket PC site (MS's forerunner to Windows Mobile). In 7 years I owned 11 PPC/WM devices, four Symbians - two Series 60, one Series 80, and one UIQ device; and my most recent is a Blackberry Curve - which apparently just died on me last week. After repeatedly shutting off in the middle of conversations, it finally did it once more and now all I get is a large image of a battery with a red slash through it. I figured the abttery was shot but most posts I see about the same issue say the Curves never recover from this error.

I am looking to drop AT&T anyway; probably switch to Verizon. Only now I'm getting a pure, cheapo cell phone. My notebook is always with me and I much prefer browsing and doing email on it than a 320 x 240 px screen!

Jim