Saturday, December 31, 2005
The main things I got the phone for were. besides having a phone on the Nextel network, the Walkie Talkie and GPS features. In a minute I'll talk about both but just in case anybody was wondering why I got the phone. And yes, bunches of my relateives are on Nextel, though the ranks are thinning slightly in favor of such carriers as MetroPCS.
Anyway, the first thing different about iDEN phones in general is that they are larger than comparable non-iDEN phones, with the flips being more noticeably larger than the difference between bar phones. So my i415 is actually only a little smaller than a Nokia 5165. THe other thing differet in a bad way is battery life: take a phone on analog and put an extended battery on it and you get the 75 hours of standby and 165 minutes of talk time that is pretty common to iDEN phones. Also, netowrk outages seem more frequent than on other carriers; the Saturday, Sunday and Monday following the day I got and activated my phone were days of a cellular (though not data or walkie talkie) outage for I think all of Texas.
OK. Now for the good part, but the good part is mixed in with some bad. The first thing is walkie-talkie, which normally connects in less than a second and after the inital connect is near-instant as far as connection speed goes, though it takes about half a second for the conversation to reach the other end. But this speed is consistent whether you're calling close or from Texas to Florida or even New England. It's a neat technology, and it's what iDEN phones are actually built around. Small problem though: the normal connection times have gone for a vacation lately in Florida; due to wierd network issues it's been taking up to 3 seconds (!) to make the connection if you're not already in the walkie-talkie session (3 seconds of holding down the button before you hear the near-famous triple beep).
Now for the other thing where iDEN rules: GPS. As far as I know no other phone technology has capitalized so much on GPS as iDEN handsets. Like walkie-talkie, this service is exclusive enough to make its way into prepaid offerings. Every new or even relatively new iDEN phone is GPS capable, and your coordinates can be found fairly easily, if not always quickly and accurately, though I have gotten six-foot accuracy. There are several programs that use GPS for some purpose or other with Boost Mobile. Blister's location-based game Swordfish (at which I was for awhile last week first, then I dropped to econd, then I reinstalled the game and lost my ability to keep racking up points) and the driving directions king TeleNav come to mind. The latter, be forewarned, does not necessarily have up-to-date gas prices, though if you get one $1.50 "trip" you can access all of its features as long as you don't navigate to the completion of a GPS-guided trip.
That's about all that's unique to Boost Mobile. Unlimited internet is 20 cents a day, but there are workarounds for this, and the free section of the internet is relatively expansive, a little better than T-Mobile To Go's free T-Zones. If you want web access, STi Mobile is a better choice, with its faster network. If you have a cable, however, the Opera Mini web browser is one of those workarounds that gets you free web browsing, and the program itself is free so if you insist on internet and wamt something HTML capable Boost can do that.
RIngtones are played through the speakerphone of course, and as such are only telephone-quality. So if you were looking to play beautiful and subtle MP3s as your ringtone, you can do the MP3 part but don't expect anything coming out of that speaker to be beautiful and subtle, though you can expect it to be able to be deafeningly loud. A neat little button on the i415 and other new phones lets you easily switch between the speakerphone and the handset speaker, which is also OK quality and can be fairly loud, for such things as playing voice recordings (finally a phone that will do it!) and using java programs.
Speaking of java programs, the i415's java support is good to excellent, with the ability to suspend one app or two and run others or use the phone in another way with the app quicly reopenable. Also, where the LG 225 on STi only includes the demo version of Jamdat's Bowling 2, the i415 includes the full version. Yay Boost!
All other features on the phone are relatively the same as those on similarly-priced phones elsewhere, though they may be more customizeable, better, or maybe even worse in my opinion a term that could describe the Recent Calls function, which is a numbers-only (or contact info if the number is in your address book) affair without date stamps or the ability to see whether a call ws missed, called, or received.
Overall, the i415 and Boost Mobile\Nextel\iDEN in general has its good and bad spots. GPS is readily available but finicky (may or may not get a signal) and fairly inaccurate, walkie talkie is slow right now, and call quality on regular calls is bad in some areas due to a high-compression "6:1" codec in use. Reception is solid though since Nextel employs a stronger 800-to-900-MHz frequency (MIRS, iDEN's technical frequency name like cellular and PCS bands on "normal" phones, slips in all over the place due to its having to dodge cellular frequencies and public safety equipment), although tower buildout isn't any more than that of carriers like Sprint on their home network. My verdict is that unless you use walkie talkie almost exclusively you'll want to carry some other cell phone around in addition to any Boost phone, one reason being that the rates are farly expensive for calling non=Sprint, non-Nextel home (Partners doesn't count as Mobile To Mobile), non-Boost numbers during weekdays, though night and weekend rates, as well as Mobile to Mobile are a reasonable ten cents a minute. Oh, and walkie talkie is expensive. Anyway, I'd say have a second phone if this is your primary...
It's fairly easy to record a call in progress, or record a voice recording, or record a name to use with the voice dialing function. Oh, and you can use voice recordings as ringtones, which actually sound passable. Speaking of ringtones, you can use 3gforfree to download either your own or someone else's ringtones to this phone, which plays them very well. The handset volume in normal mode is nice and loud, though not quite as loud as the 5225, but then you have the full-duplex speakerphone which picks up well above where the normal speaker leaves off and gets pretty loud before starting to clip.
As for the camera, it's VGA but the interface is pretty good with +/-2 EV exposure compensation and very good image quality, as you can see from my photos on this blog. Very good for a camera phone of course; I won't ditch my Olympus C 5050 just yet. ;) The camera does low-light surprisingly well, though the photos onscreen look granier and less saturated than they are on a PC screen or (I guess) in print. THe camera doesn't do video, and photos will be rejected if they're above 100k (phone won't save them) and at the highest quality the phone only holds 13 photos but hey, that's what the online albums are for...
When it works (STi is having problems with them right now) the 10-cent-a-day (web is 19 and web and pictures together are 29) picture messaging package is pretty good and pretty cheap. You get unlimited sent and received picture essages, which can also include a 15-second voice recording and a 255-character text message. So yes, it's cheaper and bigger than text messaging if you send or receive a few messages per day. You can also send picture messages from the online albums on your phone (hosted at plspictures.com) though for some reason the feature is broken right now (the whole picture messaging and albums function is broken currently). Uploaded pictures take a little while to display and pictures take a little while to upload or send but the service isn't agonizingly slow thanks to Sprint's 1xRTT network. It's just that you're uploading or downloading, if you selected the highest qual9ity and resolution on your phone, nearly 100k image files, and those take time.
The other component required for the online albums feature is [lain old unlimited web access, which the 225 does quite well. Pages load fairly quickly, even if they're bona fide, unconverted HTML, as long as they aren't too big. GMail Mobile works like a charm. Opera Mini won't run on this phone, but the included OpenWave browser is good enough so you won't be wishing for it at every turn. Oh, and 19 cents a day for unlimited net access isn't bad at all.
Picture caller ID, a self-portrait mode on the camera, and plenty of customization room round out this phone. It doesn't record video or play MP3s or radio, and the picture messaging service is shaky as of yet, but the phone is around $50 with a $100 rebate and all of its features work well, with great voice quaLity, good reception, and solid battery life. If you want a camera phone on prepaid and want full web access as well, this is much cheaper than the other offerings that provide you with these features (Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Cingular) and the phone is solid, whereas I've heard that the Audiovoxes aren't so hot and we all know what kind of battery life those bulky iDEN phones get (hint: not much). So while this phone could be a little better, it's worth the price before the rebate, and worth more than the price after.
Oh and yes, you can get this phone for free with a contract, if you want to join the dark side. But I have a feeling that picture messaging and web will be more expensive per month, plus you've got that ugly two-year commitment. On STi you only have to stick around for 90 days by making a phone call every 60 for them to ship out the $100 rebate.
Friday, December 30, 2005
So my Beyond Wireless phones, which are roaming where I live, are for sale. I'm going to add a $5 35-minute card to each of them, then make one roaming call to make sure the phones will stay active for 60 more days, and then they'll be ready for whoever gets them from me. THe phones will also include a Nokia home charger.
I'm selling the Nokia 5165 for $15 shipped anywhere in the US, and the Nokia 3560 for $35, also shipped anywhere in the US. The 5165 will come with around 30 units of airtime on it, and the 3560 will come with around 40. There are also a couple of monophonic ringtones on the 3560 that I sent it via SMS (Star Wars and MASH).
Both phones are in good to very good condition; I can provide photos to whoever wants them. The 3560 has some small wear signs on the front faceplate, but a new faceplate will make the phone as if nothing had happened. THe 3560 is an AT&T branded phone; the 5165 is SOC unlocked so it can be used on whatever TDMA or analog carrier you want.
If anybody has any more questions just email me at iansltx AT gmail DOT com (substitutions stop spam). This would also be the address to paypal me the money. I won't be able to send the phones until maybe the middle of next week as I won't be at home until then, but this also means that if someone wants it and pays for it that I can put a larger refill onto the phone.
I guess that's about it. Hope I haven't turned anyone off by this little ad ;)
1. For people who don't want much of an upfront investment and don't mind a black-and-white phone, the Nokia 1100 is available with a $20 60-minute card "Free". What this really means is you pay for shipping and tax on the card's amount (another $7 if you include tax and ground shipping since the order is under $25, at $19.99) and get the phone as a result. In any case, $27 gets you a nice little Nokia 1100 (I've used it a little and think it's great for basic stuff, kind of like the Nokia 2126 ecept older and GSM) and a 60-minute card. If you can find just a 20-minute promo code for the card, you get a total of 200 minutes for $27, including referral minutes (email me). Not too shabby...
2. If you are willing to spend a little more (about twice as much as it turns out) you can get a refurbished (like the Nokia 1100 above and pretty much every other Tracfone promo) Motorola v170 flip phone "free" with a $50 250-minute card (formerly 200 minutes). Free shipping kicks in at $25 so this phone (you guessed it) only has tax to inflate its real price if you can wait a few days for it to arrive. THe nifty little secret of the Motorola v170 is that you can actually select the network you want to be on, subject to the phone's defaulting after a few minutes of idle to, if possible, to the home carrier's signal. This feat is best done with a Cingular-based sim card and service, marked by activation with the larger SingleRate map (the smaller one is T-Mobile). This little secret, which is free since roaming doesn't cost anything extra, helps if for example Cingular has "razed the bar" in your area as far as voice quality goes and there is a better carrier available. Aside from this, you also get a small-to-medium-sized flip phone with a color screen, though the internal-only screen seems only a little bigger than my LG phone's caller ID screen. And a 250-minute card. With a 50-minute promo code (which can be had) and referral minutes, you'll get 420 units of airtime with this phone...that's a lot especially since the package is around $54 (so you get an OK rate per minute wherever GSM service is available).
Interestingly, the price of these refurbished phones with their respective airtime cards are the exact same as those of new phones without the cards. I'll take the refurbs, thanks, as they're factory-spec and have a full warranty and look like new so there's nothing I really lose by going refurb except having to buy minutes later on.
Oh, and the promo lasts at least until next Thursday, and if it lasts to the next Friday it will last until the Thursday after since that's how Tracfone's website works. So you have a little bit of time to get the phone deals.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Anyway, I was notified of this really neat place called 3gforfree.com. Or rather re-notified; I knew about it but had forgotten. The great thing about it is you can actually download, not just play or view, backgrounds and ringtones onto an STi LG phone. My downloads are now full of assorted ringers, both polyphonic and voice-type (an AK-47 :) ) from 3GForFree. You can also, after signing up, upload your own ringers and graphics for your phone...I'll probably do that soon.
Again the site is http://www.3gforfree.com and yes, you can download stuff right from your phone just by using this address.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
So no folks, just because STi or someone else runs off of Sprint's netowkr, it doesn't mean you'll get Sprint or Boost or Nextel Mobile-to-Mobile rates when calling to them or receiving calls from them. Boost owners be forewarned; it will be somewhat of a ripoff to call an STi phone, just like it would be to call a Verizon, T-Mobile or landline phone.
This phone, which I posted a photo or two of awhile back, is basically the same as the Virgin Mobile Shorty or the MetroPCS Nokia 2116, except with a color screen and a color interface. So all the accessories that work on those phones will work on this one as well. Oh, and calls to *228 are both free and encouraged by TracFone, but don't expect any miracles...it did not change my dad's phone's home\roaming area. Now to actually describing the phone...
First off, it's tiny! It's not a Razr but for $20 plus tax (what my dad got it for) it is one small ph6 Review!one. It is the typical Nokia bar, with power, send, end etc. keys in the normal arrangement. The up key on the phone has an interesting feature in standby mode though. One press turns the phone's bright LED flashlight, housed in the power button, on for the duration of the press. The next press, if done soon after, turns the LED on until a third press turns it off again. Ingenious.
Speaking of the up button, I have one small gripe about the mechanics of this phone: sometimes pressing the up button discolors the screen, probably because to make something this small with that little money you can't always make sure that things aren't overlapping in the least. This little annoyance isn't a deal-breaker though.
About the screen, four words sum it up: small, pixelated but super! Now how you can manage to have 96 by 65 distinct rows and columns of pixels on a screen a bit larger than a postage stamp I don't know exactly, but the fact still remains that the screen is beautiful! The interface makes use of both animation and color, and as with all color Nokias can be in a variety of colors that are nice and vibrant. And yes, you get that lovely cream of the crop Nokia interface. The interface sounds seem to have a CDMA, more utilitarian feel than the GSM sound sets on such Nokias as the 6010, but the ringtones are fantastic enough that the fact that you can't get any more than the preloaded 19 isn't so bad. Also, the vibration motor truly rocks this ultra-light phone's world, so you are going to feel the phone vibrate to the beat of the ringtone you selected. And speaking of ringtones, they can be nice and loud with the top-right-mounted loudspeaker, which also serves as the speakerphone speaker.
Which brings us into the more "practical" feature set. The speakerphone is good, though not perfect, especially considering the form factor it is packed into. There is clipping at higher volumes, but volumes can get pretty darn loud. The earpiece volume is a bit on the conservative (read "soft") side but it is definately sufficient. Speaking of voice-related features, the phone can record and store one minute's worth of voice recordings (as far as I know there's no maximum number of recordings so pick a length, any length, as long as it's a minute or less).
There are, of course, the usual extras for a modern phone, such as a calculator and date book, and both of these features are done well by Nokia, though I'll stay with a dedicated PDA or maybe a PDA\cell phone for now. There are a few good Java games on the phone, the standard fare of all color Nokias since the 3560. As Tracfone doesn't support anything more than voice and text messaging, the phone doesn't support anything more either, but it does both of these satisfyingly well. One gripe with text messaing though is that the message-sending process is somewhat backward, but again this is a forgiveable quibble.
Overall, this is a great phone that does perfectly everything Tracfone's network can do, and if any CDMA provider offered this phone as one of a bunch of "voice phones" as Sprint calls them, I would quickly pick this one if it wasn't too expensive...that's why I don't have the Verizon version, the $80 2128i ;). Reception, as I should have said much earlier, is very good, and battery life is superb as well. What more could you want from a phone geared toward voice and text as far as network-based services go? I don't want anything :). So when in doubt, buy this phone...and no, I will not let you go away alive clutching that horrible Tracfone called the Motorola c343 if the Nokia 2126 was anywhere nearby. :)
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Small problem: not too many people are on ReadyLink while everyone with a Nextel or Boost phone has Direct Connect. But the cheapness of ReadyLink on STi will probably convince a few people to move over. Granted, the Sanyo VI-2300 isn't small, but its speakerphone looks big and "bad" and the phone appears to be well-built (and it's still not as big as a Nextel i730) so I don't think anyone is going to mind too much about the size.
In short, at the end of January STi is coming out with ReadyLink...woohoo!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
One thing I do know I’ll do is add quite a few blog entries over the next few days, so rejoice and show your rejoicing by emailing me or by clicking on a few ads that interest you…pretty much all of the money that those ads generate goes into my buying of cell phone stuff anyway so your clicks make for more content here.
Anyway, Merry Christmas and I’ll be posting a lot more soon…
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
40 minute card -> 60 minutes, $20, was 50 cents, now 33 cents a minute
100 minute card -> 120 minutes, $30, was 30 cents, now 25 cents a minute
200 minute card -> 250 minutes, $50, was 25 cents, now 20 cents a minute
Double minute card (300 minutes) -> 400 minutes, $130, was 43.3, now 32.5 cents a minute (not counting double minutes)
It looks as though the 400-minute, $80 card, will be dead soon, as now the $50, 250-minute card has the same cost per minute for less money. Then again, $50 STi Mobile cards still sell, and they don't have any promotions that make their minutes cheaper with larger quantities bought. Still, with the tiered price structure that Tracfone has I think the 400-minute card will go.
I have to say that Tracfone is still one of the more expensive carriers on the block as far as cost per minute goes (everybody now is 25 cents a minute or below, even with a $20 card, whereas it takes a $30 card to get those rates) if you don't take advantage of promotionals. Of course, Tracfone is famous\infamous for its promos so you can fairly easily get 20 cents a minute on a $20 or $30 card (eBay has the former for around $14 and there are promo codes floating around). Plus they have refer-a-friend.
Even with these pluses Tracfone usually doesn't turn out to be the cheapest carrier around, but if they use a cerrier in your area that has an even more outrageous prepaid option, or none at all, and great coverage, it may very well be the way to go, now especially since their rates are a tad lower.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Just a few minutes ago I saw the far-famed phone commonly known as the Motorola Razr V3. This was a totally real and working model too, not some display dummy. The guy who had it was on t-mobile and thus the phone had that logo inostensibly displayed on the back of the silver phone. The phone had its nice huge screen, the easily-covered camera, a metallic interface, and a wide, thin form factor as if a normal camera phone had been put in a squasher. I know, I'm a barbarian to have not seen in person a real razr until now, but now i know why people pay three hundred dollars for this phone. T-mobile actually sells this same phone on prepaid, without contracts or other such garbage, for $250. Cingular sells both the black and silver versions of this phone for $200 but as I do not have their towers where I live I couldn't get it if I wanted to. You can actually get it for just a little more expensive at myworldphone.com so I would probably get it there. That is one sweet phone though... :)
This message was sent from a T-Mobile wireless phone.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I have a hunch though that we Tracfone users will wake up some Friday morning (the customary time of Tracfone website renewal) to a fresh new rate scheme for Tracfone. Dunno whether it will be lower rates (Captain Obvious would think so), more features (doubt this one), longer expirations (doubt this one), or no more 2-for-1 roaming fees on CDMA and TDMA phones (maybe but doubt it), but something is definately brewing :) (notice I didn't make a pun with BREW as Tracfone doesn't have it...yet ;) ).
Second, in my area they won't even sell me a Cingular GoPhone. If someone was nice and charitable I'd PayPal them $30 (the price of the phone) to buy a Nokia 3120 GoPhone and have it shipped to my address (if you're interested email me). I'd give the money once the tracking info got sent me...and I would give the money...I really would like the Nokia 3120 :)
Third, there are some who have doubted even with the photo in the last post that the Nokia 2126 is actually analog-capable. Granted, Nokia's website doesn't show that it is analog but the fact remains that it has a specific option in the Settings menu (under Network > Phone Mode or something similar; I don't have the phone in front of me) called "Analog Only", the NAM programming menu (*3001#12345#) specifically represents AMPS (geek-speek for analog), I can put the phone into field test mode and it will actually show when I am on analog that AMPS is active, and (tying in with the former reason) the A beside the roaming icon, where normally a D (CDMAOne, the older variant of CDMA's network) or a 1x (1xRTT, the newer, better, high-speed, higher-capacity CDMA variant) would be, certainly doesn't stand for Apple ;).
If anybody still doubts I will personally email them cameraphone shots of the field test screens and such proving that the phone can do analog. That is, as long as your first part of your email doesn't have a period in it, as for some wierd reason this causes my cameraphone to just give me an error message and stop composing the message. More on that when I catch up with my life again :)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
My dad got this great phone Sunday. It is the nokia 2126 on tracfone which here runs on the fairly good verizon network. It is super small and has lots of features for the twenty plus tax my dad said for it. The photos are to prove that it does analog.