## Friday, June 23, 2006

### Tracfone Deals

Tracfone just updated their deals today. The Motorola c139 is back online, albeit at $30 instead of$20. The Motorola v170 is now free with your choice of either $50 (250 minute) or$100 (1 year) cards, refurbished. The Nokia 1100 is free with 1 year, 120 minute and 60 minute cards. This phone is also refurbished. Quite a selection.

The Nokia 2600 is also available, and it's now just $40 new...and it includes a starter kit (car charger, leather case, headset). The Motorola c155, similarly arrayed, is$30, but I would get the c139 because it is newer and is priced the same and has the same accessories.

And that is the extent of the new Tracfone deals.

## Thursday, June 22, 2006

### Net10 & Tracfone

1. Net10 is a pretty good deal. Someone wondered when it would be out. The answer: now.

2. Tracfone's promo code 54606 works even with the notably promo-resistant referral minutes! Have fun with 150 minutes instead of 120.

Sorry for the length of this post (or lack therof). I'm still at summer camp. But I'll be home tomorrow night so stay tuned.

## Monday, June 19, 2006

### Virgin Mobile...Changed...

Surprise! I'm posting from Boy Scout SUmmer Camp. Hope this helps everyone...

Well, Virgin Mobile has made iself somewhat more competitive, but followed the rat pack in other areas.

1. Text is now 5 cents both ways. AHHHHHHHHHHHH! It was expected, yes, but it's sad to see everyone charging for incoming text now...except for Boost and Nextel's text system isn't worth the 10 cents to send a message. Yes, sending and receiving a message apiece (10\free vs. 5\5) costs the same but quite a few people (me included) have various alerts and such that boost the incoming text count to much higher than the outgoing count. Of course, T-Mobile To Go is doing even worse by not lowering their outgoing text fee (it will still be 10 cents) but this is still moderate insanity. I thought prices were supposed to go down!

Virgin now has text message bundles (sound like a regular carrier?) that are pay-by-the-month. $2 buys 50 texts (4 cents apiece),$5 buys 200 texts (2.5 cents apiece) and $10 buys 1000 texts (a penny apiece). The last package roughly approximates, from my point of view at least, the bandwidth cost for text messages, but only if you use almost all of the messages...and there's no unlimited option... 2. The new Virgin Mobile rate plans are in effect. They generally seem to be better than the previous rates, but they still aren't overly competitive. They are as follows: Minute2Minute is now 18 cents a minute flat. Those already on the 25/10 scheme are grandfathered in for the time being, but they can opt for the new plan if they don't talk a lot on any given day that they do talk. For low-minute users this is a step in the right direction. Day2Day is now no longer Day2Day. It is a monthly payment plan at$6.99 except that it comes with no minutes. Minutes are still 10 cents. This is a noticeable drop from the previous Day2Day plan in that on a normal month you would have to pay $10.50, not$7. The price, true, is dropped by a whopping third, which is nice, but it still isn't anything totally out-of-this-world. And there's a monthly fee.

The monthly plans have changed. $15 buys 100 minutes (not a good deal),$25 buys 200 (not a great deal), $35 buys 300 with 1000 night\weekend minutes (7 pm to 7 am),$45 buys 400 minutes with unlimited nights and weekends, and $60 gets 600 minutes. If you use that many minutes a month, a contract will give you oodles more coverage, a free, better phone, more minutes, and in the case of Virgin Mobile's parent carrier Sprint, more forgiving overages.You see, overages are 18 cents a minute...paid in chunks of$4.50! Junk fees are, to my memory, not included in this price. So you pay for 25 minutes at a time, at nearly double the cost per minute of Sprint's postpaid arm. Gross.

3. Looking through Virgin's newly redesigned psite I find the same phones, except a little cheaper. The K10 Royale, which I mentioned to be $20 at Wal-Mart, is now$20 online. No extra airtime, but here's a low entry price for a phone. The Nokia Shorty is $40...with$40 in airtime! Yes ladies and gentlemen, a free phone. I just may have to pick this one up, but then again the phone doesn't even doe web and the rates for everything are wierd\high. The new Kyocera Butt_Ugly...er...Switch_Back is still $150. The Vox 8610, which again doesn't have web but does have a color screen, is$50, plus you get $20 when you top up or make a monthly payment. Ha ha, a contract-style catch on a not-so-great phone. The Audiovox Snapper has settled at$100, and teh Kyocera Slider Sonic is $150. So that's what's new on Virgin Mobile's website. If I missed anything, please post a comment. Yes, comments are enabled now; enjoy. ## Saturday, June 17, 2006 ### STi 1xRTT Speeds OK. This is almost for sure going to be my last post for awhile, but here goes: I just speed tested my LG 225 on STi Mobile using four of the SpeakEasy servers (Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta) and here are the results: Seattle: 20kbps down, 46 up LA: 21 down, 69 up Dallas: 22 down, 79 up Atlanta: 17 down, 79 up Interesting, huh? Brings a whole new meaning to asymetric connections. This time upstream bandwidth is broader than downstream! But it seems that if you are downloading from or uploading to multiple sources the connection goes much faster. On a good BitTorrent torrent, using uTorrent, I got around 12 KB/s (kilobytes, not kilobits; 96 kilobits/second) both ways, and one time the connection spiked all the way up to 14.6 KB/s. Wait! That speed, 116.8 kbps, is supposedly faster than Windows 2000 will handle a modem! (115.2 kbps). So for normal web browsing the connection may actually be a tad slower than dialup, but that's OK considering that 1xRTT takes about 4 seconds to connect and dialup takes about 40. For uploads look for 1x to do twice to three times dialup speeds (v.92 allows for a maximum of 33.6 kbps upstream). And for multisource downloads with a fair number of fairly fast sources, watch as 1x leaves dialup generally in the dust, throttling up to 2.4x as fast as the theoretical limit of dialup, which is of course never obtained in real-world conditions though dialup may come close (this limit is 53 kbps). hope this info helps. Now everyone have a nice week! ### Various Rants\News 1. Starting July 1st, T-Mobile will again shoot itself in the foot by zapping 15 minutes off the Gold Rewards amount for their$10 card. Right; now the 30-minute card supplies a mere 35 minutes in Gold Rewards. Granted, the cost per year is lower than Tracfone's 1-year card, but the cost per minute is not. Hmmm...with incoming text now costing and outgoing costing the same and vaporware roaming T-Mobile To Go just might shrivel up and die...or at least shrivel up halfway...the other half of the customers may not notice their balances going down faster than usual...or don't care all that much...

On this note, I'll probably be willing to sell my T-Mobile To Go SIM card in time for school to start, if things keep progressing the way they are. It will have around $25 on it and expire late July '07. It will most likely have about 85 minutes on it. The cost?$35 shipped, because of the Gold Rewards, which doesn't come cheap.

2. Brian Recchia, whose blog I posted about a few days ago, found a nice little helper for people who have such phones as the Tracfone Motorola c139, which I reviewed here a few days ago. It has to do with ringtones. His blog is at

http://brian.recchia.name

3. Hedging the little bit of good information on both sides with rants, Blogger thinks this blog is a spam blog. I'm not in a terribly good mood now, but nonetheless it brings a chuckle or two. Artificial intelligence isn't perfect. So Blogger will have someone look at my blog, along with the other 150 some people per day, and once they look hopefully remove the somewhat annoying word verification box that I have had to fill out for the last few posts (I think the bug started today). Ah well,. such is life.

4. Just to prepare everyone, I'll be going to Boy Scout Summer Camp at Bear Creek (Texas) starting Sunday and ending Friday night, so don't be surprised if this blog lies silent for the intervening days. Though if Sprint works out there I may surprise everyone with a mobile post, or maybe I'll sit down at a regular computer (they have a computer lab there but it's not for everyone) and make a post. But don't count on it.

Next Sunday I'll be going to another camp, and there is roughly zero possibility of me posting from there. The next time I'll post after that will probably be the following Monday. But stay tuned, comment on my posts, and show your support for Go4Prepaid (read: click ads ;) ). See you people...

### Tracfone: Even More Minutes For Your Money

Submitted by tr11, here's a way to get cheap airtime "to the max". I had heard of this method before but hadn't thought much of it...until now...

1) Buy a Nokia 1100 or two or three from Tracfone's website (for the first few phones shipping is a flat $5 so the more the marrier), you know the one with the 60-minute card included 2) Activate each phone, referring your old Tracfone for each new one (if you don't have an old Tracfone, email me and I'll give you the first referral you need, then have your remaining referral(s) point to the phone I referred) 3) Add the 60-minute cards to the phones they came with, in order to take advantage of the 30-minute promo code 54606 (promo codes can only be used once per phone) 4) Afer a few days or maybe a few weeks, call Tracfone and consolidate. Meaning tell them you want to transfer all your airtime for the phone(s) you bought to just one of your phones, be it your old Tracfone or the one I referred. This will be maybe a 20-minute call per phone, but most of that 20 minutes is spent on hold. Maybe 5 minutes is spent on the actual process. 5) Enjoy your vast supply of airtime, and ship the now-dead Nokia 1100s to me...halfway kidding... So for each phone you would get 120 + 60 + 30 + 120 = 330 minutes of airtime. Factoring in shipping and tax and the DealKing$5 discount, buying just one phone and doing this with it yields a cool 6.67 cents a minute. Two phones? About 6.6 cents a minute flat.

If you're in a state where Tracfone doesn't charge tax, or if yoiu get free shipping on the phones your cost per minute will go even further down, even below 6 cents a minute. On "free shipping" deals you'll want to buy only one phone at a time to take best advantage of the DealKing promotion.

Nice...I think I may be ordering some 1100s fiarly soon...

As a postscript to the above, here's why I want people to mail me their dead Nokia 100s: with the appropriate hardware and software (have to find it but I know it's out there) I can turn Tracfone Nokia 1100s into unlocked normal Nokia 1100s. Nifty. And when I sell these newly unlocked and reflashed phones I'll give whoever sent them to me half the money. Sound good?

## Friday, June 16, 2006

### Virgin Mobile

OK. So these guys have some new stuff going on.

First off, they are going to change their lowest-tier rate structure to flat 18 cents per minute, from the 25-for-ten-then-10 scheme. This is a good move; the older plan would only be better if you spent 19 or more minutes on any day you talked. In which case Virgin's daily fee plan would probably work out to be cheaper.

The bad thing is now you can easily compare Virgin with any other prepaid. And it wins in some cases (Boost's daytime non-M2M rate is 20 cents, Movida is 20 cents) but loses in others (Boost M2M or nights\weekends is a mere 10 cents per minute). And if you used more than about 45 minutes a month with STi, even on their annoying 10 cent per day junk fee plan, STi would be cheaper.

Thing number two, which I'll cover again here since it has to do with Virgin Mobile: text is going to be 5 cents both ways soon. There will be cheaper-by-the-bundle text packages but it's annoying to see everyone charging for incoming text now.

Thng number three: at my local Wal-Mart the Kyocera K10 is now $20. Pretty good deal, considering the phone has a color screen and web access...until you find out that the phone includes a paltry$2.50 in startup airtime. Right next to it is the Tracfone Nokia 2126, which with Refer-A-Friend is cheaper than the airtime that comes on it...

## Wednesday, June 14, 2006

### EVDO and Razrs and Bluetooth Oh My!

So you want EV-DO on prepaid...you can only get that with Amp'd...

If you want a Razr on prepaid, you have a few choices:
1. Get an unlocked Razr and put it on any Cingular or T-Mobile based prepaid (T-Mobile To Go, Cingular, Beyond Wireless GSM)
2. Get a branded Razr with Cingular or T-Mobile
3. Get the CDMA Razr (expensive) with Verizon or Alltel prepaids
4. Get the CDMA Razr for Verizon (expensive) and put it on PagePlus

I would personally go for the first option, as it's the cheapest.

If you want Bluetooth on prepaid, well the Razr has Bluetooth, the Boost i875 has Bluetooth, and a few other Cingular and T-Mobile phones (not necessarily the ones they sell for prepaid but go onto eBay and get the phone and the SIM card) have Bluetooth. Also, Verizon has some Bluetooth phones, as does Alltel, and you could put those phones onto PagePlus or U Prepaid, respectively. And the Amp'd Hollywood has Bluetooth. But Tracfone, Simple Freedom, cheaper PagePlus phones, cheaper Boost phones, all STi phones, and phones from lots of other prepaid carriers do not have Bluetooth. But there are a few carriers out there that do...

Why did I post this? Because I can see what people searched for to get to my website, so I can answer their questions fairly easily if I haven't answered them already on my site.

## Tuesday, June 13, 2006

### Correction, Yuh Honuh

Some guy named Brian Recchia (his site is hotlinked in the title of this post) observed that I got something wrong with the Motorola c139 review: the phone does have a ringtone composer. I decided to investigate.

The composer is in the Ring Styles menu, and is listed as My Tones. However, the dang thing is horribly hard to use as far as I can tell, so I'll let Brian give everyone a tutorial on his blog, and I'll just link to it. But yes, this little pig...er...phone does have a ringtone composer, at least one of sorts.

Why did I miss this? First, at the writing of the review the phone wasn't with me (oh, and the screen is maybe twice the size of my 225's external screen, but that's still not too good) and second Motorola's user interface is pretty hard to navigate...er...very hard to navigate.

Thanks Brian for the correction!

### Nokia 1100

Looks like we're on a roll here...

This phone can be found for dirt cheap on Tracfone.com, refurbished. But it's still good. It's free either with a 1-year card or a 60-minute card. I chose the bundle with the 60-minute card of course.

Appearance and Size
Granted, this phone must be about 5 years old now, but it is still on the small side snf Nokia makes their designs aestheticaly relatively future-proof. So you have a phone that is not too thick or wide, is rather long, and is a tad heavy considering its size. As a warning though, don't take the keypad out from the cover; it won't go in again quite right. The phone is still really useable but things are a whole lot snappier out of the box than if you do the aforementioned. Oh, and the phone is fairly durable...the faceplate popped off when it was gently hurled onto a vinyl floor but it popped right back on again a minute later.

Battery Life
This phone uses a fair-sized battery, which happens to be able to fit into a Nokia 2126. But the Nokia 2126's BL-6C battery is a little too big to fit comfortably in the 1100's BL-5C compartment. Expect four or five days of battery life with moderate usage, thanks to mono ringtones and a large black-and-white display.

Features, Screen, UI
This phone is loaded with different features that are fun and useful, such as a stopwatch that is quite good (not like the c139's 7 frames per second ordeal), an easy-to-use calculator, and a nice ringtone composer. Granted, ringtones are only monophonic but once you get the hang of the composer you can make some pretty nice ringtones. I made both the Cingular and T-Mobile tones, plus a snippet of Dueling Banjos. And the ringtones that come with the phone are many, varied and of good quality. And yes, rhythmic vibration is on the 1100. And yes, there is a flashlight on this phone, though it isn't quite as bright as the one on the Nokia 2126...in other words don't ditch your normal flashlight.

A big screen, sporting 96x65 pixel resolution (OK for black-and-white), gives plenty of space for Nokia's great user interface, which uses the older "Navi" design for navigation; there's a big Navi key in the middle, a Clear button on the left (as well as a recessed power button) and up\down arrows on the right. The lack of dedicated send\end keys is sometimes annoying, but not very much. Again Nokia makes something that's easy to use.

Reception is very good, and so is voice quality. he phone's ringers are loud enough, as is the earpiece, though of course there's no speakerphone. My only little beef is that Nokia refuses to support standard 2.5mm headsets on their phones; if you want a headset for Nokia then you have to buy a headset for Nokia. Conversely, I have a cheapie 2.5mm headset that I got for free with CheapPhoneCards reward points and it works on all the LG, Motorola and Samsung phones I've had (the Siemens a56 lacks a headset jack).

Hmmm...looks like we've covered everything. All in all this phone is great for what Tracfone currently does: send and receive calls and text messages. I'd heartily recommend this phone while it lasts...you can even get it for next to nothing. Granted, it doesn't have a color screen or rip-roaringly good battery life, but for a basic phone it aces the test.

Oh, and on DealKing.com you can get $5 back from Tracfone, enough to cover shipping for the little bugger. I'd go for it. This concludes the massive posting spree today. Until the next time something neat comes out for prepaid cellular, see you people! Oh and by the way, to make sure I hae a reason to do this (getting my hands on new phones to put reviews here) please click an ad or two. Hey, they're even useful sometimes! ### Motorola c139 OK. So a few weeks ago I bought the Motorola c139 phone off of Tracfone.com. Here's how it worked out: Size and Appearance The phone is pretty small. It's not a Razr or a c261 but it's not huge either. It has rubber inserts on both sides of the phone for something that's a little easier to grip than the semi-glossy silver plastic. The buttons are rubbery and sort of difficult to press at first but eventually they'll become easier. Overall, the phone looks nice, but pretty basic. Oh, and the Tracfone logo is happily only on the back of the phone, with Motorola's logo sowing up prominently on the phone. Reception This phone seems to get pretty good reception actually, but voice quality seems wierd sometimes for some reason or other. But usually it's nice. It may not measure up to, say, a Nokia 6010, but then again I don't have a cingular contract SIM that is handy so I can test the two side by side (I set up both teh 1100 and the c139 to run on Cingular for the widest coverage range and since I already have a T-Mobile To Go phone). Battery Life Due probably to the phone's tiny, though color, screen, highly convervative backlight settings (you can't read the display after the backlight goes off...at all...though it is still on), plus its monophonic ringtone speaker, plus its using GSM, this phone really sips battery life sparingly from its relatively large battery. The result: a week between charges with moderate use...mostly the included, entertaining but over-simple "Spring Ball" game but some talking as well. That's pretty darn good...as in maybe twice as good as my camera phone. But the camera phone has an external color display about as large as this phone's only display, the camera phone has poly ringtones, and the camera phone's battery is smaller. But the fact of long battery life remains... Screen and User Interface The c139's screen, as said above, is about the size of a midrange phone's external display. OK...maybe a little bigger. But not much bigger. It's only 96x65 pixels anyway, and it doesn't make as good use of those pixels as, say, a Nokia phone. The graphics in general are somewhat cartoony and there must not be more than about 32 of them that Motorola actually uses, even though the display is full 16-bit (65,536 colors). That's pretty sad. But it still has to be noted that the display is TFT, which is nice considering the phone is a mere$20 at Tracfone's website (they're out of the phone right now).

As to the interface, Motorola doesn't make the most intuitive UIs (Nokia does, with LG and Samsung coming up next I think), and the c139, with its center button being the MENU button instead of the SELECT button things are somewhat confusing. It has a 4-way D-pad but the only place you can really put it to good use is when playing the onboard games, and even then it's not that great. I would trade the left, right and center buttons for a better UI, personally. Then again, if you like Motorolas this may be OK for you.

Ringers and Vibe
Tracfone.com errs very much when it says that this phone has polyphonic ringtones; it doesn't. And the monophonic ringtones sound pretty gross for the most part, even out of beat at times. Not good. Also, PhoneScoop says that the phone includes a ringtone composer. It doesn't. The tones get reasonably loud at the highest setting, and interestingly can hardly be heard even with your ear to the phone at the lowest setting.

As far as vibrate alert goes this phone is similar to the Samsung a820 in that the vibe is not too strong but merely OK. It doesn't vibe to the music though.

All in all this is an OK phone if you want some sort of color screen (why I don't really know, at least on such a low-end model) and great battery life. One beef though is that all new GSM Tracfones now charge 0.3 units for incoming text. REVOLT! Anyway, at $20 this is an OK phone for the money, especially if you want as much GSM coverage as you can possibly get in one phone for US use (when activated on Cingular). But if you want features, I would wait for the new crop of phones, most notably the Nokia 1112 at this price point (the c139 may go back up to$30) or maybe even get the Nokia 2126 if your area has a good CDMA provider that Tracfone is with, though if you use the 2126 you'll have to live with roaming fees, slightly more expensive (0.5 vs. 0.3 units) text and a bit worse battery life.

But the c139 is still an OK phone if you just want something to make and receive calls, plus send and receive the occaisional text, with.

### Samsung a820 & STi Mobile Press&Talk

Note: This review was made into one big post on 8-7-07.

Intro

I had to have a pair of these phones for the feature that they, and only they, have as far as STi Mobile goes: Press&Talk, which is basically their rebranding of Sprint’s ReadyLink service (Sprint sells the same phone). Speaking of branding, this looks to be the first STi Mobile phone whose software is branded, though the hardware still (thankfully) bears no logo but Samsung’s own. The extent of the branding is to remove any references to “PCS Vision” (now it’s just plain old web access), to rename ReadyLink to “Press&Talk” and to put the STi Mobile logo at the end of the phone’s startup sequence, which is quite a bit shorter than that of the LG STi phones I’ve used, though shutdown times are probably a tad longer. “STi Mobile” is also the default standby screen text while Press&Talk isn’t on (if it is on the screen says “Press&Talk”).

But to the actual features of the phone. First off there’s that new feature, which promises to bring cometition to the prepaid walkie talkie scene: Press&Talk. The system uses just the cellular number of whoever you want to call, instead of the arcane combination of numbers and asterisks Nextel’s solution uses, which is nice, but it and web can’t coexist at the same time on the same phone. So if you want to use internet access you have to wait for about three seconds while walkie talkie is turned off, then another seven or so while the phone makes the web connection. A similar process occurs when you stop using web access and walkie talkie services resume. Needless to say, if you don’t have walkie talkie enabled you can’t receive any walkie calls, but you don’t have to worry about phone calls with walkie on; they still go through. As a side note, walkie talkie service is connected to, and takes the normal amount of time to do so, right after the phone boots up, if you have it enabled in the Settings menu of your phone. I not, the left softkey at the standby screen, normally reserved for the service, does nothing, as does the dedicated walkie talkie key on the left side of the phone, which is small but easy to press when needed.

Now to the actual walkie talkie experience. First off, I’m quite happy with the voice quality of the walkie talkie service. Since the phone is CDMA the voice quality is easily better than what Sprint’s iDEN “other half” can offer. The tradeoff for this better vice quality, and better text message delivery, and cheaper price (49 cents a day whether you use it or not vs. $1 a day if you use it for Boost Mobile) and faster web speed, is the significantly longer time it takes to connect the call... Walkie Talkie STi Mobile's ReadyLink-based PTT is no Nextel, but it doesn't cost as much either, so for casual use every day (STi is pay-per-day-whether-you-use-it-or-not; Boost is pay-when-used) STi should be perfectly fine. The great things about STi over Nextel is that voice quality is better and web access is much faster than its iDEN counterpart. Performance-wise, the first connection on Press&Talk takes about 5 seconds on the sending end before a little bleep, quite unlike Nextel's "chirp", alerts you that you can talk. Another five seconds is needed before the person on the receiving end starts hearing you. This is on par with the time it takes to connect a CDMA phone call, which is to be expected (GSM is a whole lot worse in this regard), or what happens sporadically on the Nextel network. After the initial connection though, things speed up quite a bit. The next time you press the walkie talkie button the "chirp" is almost instant, and there is only about a half-second delay between when you speak and when the other person hears you. Both these figures are on par with Nextel walkie talkie, or any other walkie talkie over cellular system for that matter. The connection speed may even be a little better than Nextel in some cases, such as when a network clog makes the connection time on Nextel skyrocket to five seconds or so. So to sum it up, if you don't need Nextel-style initial connection speed you'll get two for the price of one if you get STi Mobile Press&Talk. Build Quality This phone has much better build quality, in my opinion, than the LGs I've used on STi. The flip action is nice and tight, as opposed to LG's flip, which is a little wobbly and maybe even creaky. The bad thing about the bild quality, though, is that on both my test phones (never opened before) the directional keypad and the buttons around it (send, end\power, back, two softkeys) seemed either too shallow or tended to ever so slightly bucke when one key was pressed, then another. Hopefully these buld quality issues are limited just to the phones that I tried, because otherwise these phones are nice that way, though when the flip closes the whole phone vibrates due to its sheer power. Speaking of vibration, the phone's vibrate motor is strong enough and not loud at all. As an added bonus, it will vibrate in sync with the phone's ringtones. More on that the next time I write... Audio The speakerphone speaker isn't particularly loud, but it is nice and sharp and clear, and is seperate from the earpiece, unlike such as the LG 225 and 5225. Ringtones and voice sounds nicew and crisp, but if it could have only been louder... Oh, and the vibe motor is nice. Somewhat subtle, but nice. And it vibes in time with the ringtone music, a nice bonus. Just don't expet it to move mountains. And about the ringtones: they are many and varied, which is a good thing. And you can download more ringtones from 3gforfree.com using the phone and web access. By the way, Java works pretty well on the phone. Battery Life Hate to say it, but it seems like PTT drinks battery life. But then again I was using the phone A LOT while I reviewed it. I got maybe a day to a day and a half per charge, which isn't awful considering the fact that I was on the web a lot, used PTT a lot, went to areas with little signal or no signal, and played with the ringers a bit. One problem I ran into: 611 on both the phones I was given did not go to STi Mobile customer service. It went to Sprint, which politely hung up on me with their voice response system. STi didn't seem to know how to fix it. BLEH! Other warning: The phone comes with$100 in promotional airtime, which vanishes after 90 days. So use it up while you have it. Hey, that's why I don't like STi Mobile!

So yes, the Samsung is a nice phone and push to talk is quite bearable. But STi service is too full of gimmicks for me, and now that the phone's price on CheapPhoneCards is $119 with$100 in airtime included I can only reccommend the phone if you know people who either have this phone on STi or have Sprint ReadyLink, both small numbers of people, or are going to get multiple phones for multiple people to take advantage of the push to talk function. Oh, and you'd want the people to talk too, what with the vaporizing airtime deal.

### Amp'd Mobile

Heard of this company? If not, then if you can get it...get it!

These guys abashedly run on Verizon's network, but the really sweet thing is that they can take full advantage of VZW EV-DO where it's available. As in broadband-speed downloads wirelessly...prepaid...

Roaming is also allowed as far as I have found (called Customer Service), at 10 cents a minute! Home calling is also 10 cents a minute. Groovy.

So why is this so cheap? Well, SMS is 10 cents both ways (BOO!), and Amp'd plans toi make a fortune off of content purchases (viral video, music, TV clips, etc.) in its Amp'd Live on-phone store. If you're prepaid you get an 18% surcharge for getting whatever content you want.

But 10 cents a minute is really good.

Especially when you consider the phones are really good.

Their low-end model, the Kyocera Jet, is $75 after a$100 rebate, which is actually a $100 prepaid Visa card. I'll buy that. Oh, and you can get$15 back from DealKing on this deal...

http://www.dealking.com/deals/listcoupons.php?storeid=97

...and the Jet isn't too shabby either. It's a fairly small sldier with a big screen. It has a VGA camera, Kodiak RTX Push To Talk ($1 a day) and a music player utilizing a TransFlash slot. And of course if has EV-Do. A silver, mirrored-screen version of this phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera sells for the same price. Then there's the Hollywood, aka Motorola e816, which is$149 after the rebate and without the DealKing cash back. It's a super flip phone and looks really great in black. It has a 1.3 megapixel camera, push to talk, and everything the Jet has, plus maybe some reception and Motorola quality. And it's a flip.

The minimum refill is $20 every 60 days, but$10 a month isn't bad for nationwide 10 cents a minute.

You see, you can also use web (even EV-DO) for regular things, like...um...tethering. It's 30 cents per megabyte, charged by the penny, rounded down. So actually if you use less than 30 MB a month and have Amp'd in your area, it's a better deal than STi, especially considering that the voice cost is better (10 cents flat vs. 12 weekdays \ 10 nights and weekends) and the phones are better and the data speed is better and the coverage is better. As a note of warning though, the Hollywood won't tether...yet...

But all in all this is one sweet company, and I look forward to using it as my primary prepaid, as soon as I get enough money to buy the Jet. Look for more info on that service here in the fairly near future. And if it's available in your zip (it says it isn't in mine but why not? We have Verizon aplenty, albeit no EVDO) I'd strongly suggest getting it.

### T-Mobile and Evil Incoming Text Charges

T-Mobile Text

OK. This is disgusting: everyone is going to charge for incoming text now. Everyone...

T-Mobile is going to start charging 5 cents per incoming text message starting in July. Picture messages, I'm guessing, will also be charged for incoming messages.

Sometime very soon to now Virgin will charge 5 cents per incoming text as well, though their outgoing text will now be 5 cents instead of 10.

But T-Mobile is still going to charge 10 cents per message to send. And they don't do shortcodes.

Tracfone is now charging 0.3 units per incoming text on their new GSM phones.

OK. So why is everyone that's a prepaid geek\freak railing against "evil" incoming text fees?

Because of the technology. A SMS message is, at maximum length, 160 characters. With sender and whatever else information the real maximum size for an SMS is 200 bytes. Let's try sending that via plain jane GSM, at 9.6 steenking kilobits per second. Not counting connect time (they don't count connect time on regular calls do they?) the actual message takes 0.02 seconds to send. That's right. Two hundredths of a second. And if you have GPRS in your area, merely tripling speeds to account for a bad GPRS signal, the time taken is about 0.007 seconds.

So you can send hundreds of text messages in the same data allotment as one one-minute phone call. Heck, a MMS message at 100k, which is average to large for an MMS message, would take only 30 seconds to send over GPRS, with a bad signal!

So why are they charging as much for an SMS as they do for a voice minute...or why are they charging even 1\3 as much? And why are they charging anywhere from 5\6 of a minute to 2.5 minutes for an MMS message?

That's just outgoing messages.

Incoming text or multimedia messages usually wind up last in the cellular network queue. When there is light traffic, then the few hundredths of a second (for text) or less than a minute (for MMS) is spent to send out the messages. In other words, due to the way the network is set up, no valuable time is being used to receive text or MMS messages; it's all just to take up the slack.

So why again do we have to now pay for otherwise unused time...at a premium that would make direct dial international calls look cheap? Beats me.

Granted, the iDEN system HAS to have free incoming text since their wait times for the service are horrendous at times, and they do seem to be holding the fort in that area. But hey, everyone else actually has faster data networks than Nextel and it would actually be even less expensive for them...

My suggestion to any carrier listening: text, I supposed, should be charged for incoming since network bandwidth is being used. But text needs to be higher priority to justify the charge, and the charge should be minimal, reflecting the minimal network demands. Do I hear penny text and 10 cent MMS? 5 cents for incoming and 10 for outgoing SMS is just stupid...10\10 is even more so but we all know Verizon is a ripoff. Telcos, please take your brains back out of your bullion-filled toilets.

Sorry for the rant, but T-Mobile is going to start charging for incoming SMS.

### STi Mobile Tethering

Here's another biggie: how to use your STi Mobile phone to get faster-than-dialup internet...for the price of the web package!

WARNING: If enough people abuse this STi may go wierd again and either raise rates or disable web or something even more wierd like maybe cancel service or go bankrupt. I use STi now as my only internet, and I surf a lot, but if a lot of people start to do that who knows what will happen. Please don't; everyone else employing this trick will appreciate it.

WARNING 2: This will not work (at least with the LG 225 phone) on any computer running or based on Windows XP Professional (Windows XP Media Center 2003 or 2004, also 2005 if upgraded from 2004). The computer will simply lock up as soon as it tries to access the phone. Trust me, I and others know. Windows XP Home and Windows 2000 work fine, and 98SE probably works, since it has drivers for the phone in the 3GCables zipfile. And yes, so does Windows ME.

WARNING 3: This has only been tested to my knowledge with the LG 225 camera phone ($129 with$100 in airtime at CheapPhoneCards.com). The Samsung a820 MAY work, and the LG 125 MAY work, but I honestly don't know as I haven't tried. If anyone has, email me. The LG 5225 doesn't seem to do anything with a cable connected to it, and the other STi phones (Sanyo 200, Samsung a460, LG 1200) aren't web-capable so they can't do it. In other words, this info only applies directly to the LG 225.

Now that the warnings are out of the way, here's how to get up and running over 1xRTT for 29 cents a day with STi (19 cents web + 10 cents fee-for-nothing)...

I got my cable from dwoodsz.com over eBay. I made a Best Offer for $15 and, since the normal price was$16, the seller accepted. Make sure you get the 3-groove LG 225 compatible cable (easy to find on the website). 3GCables also has an LG 225 compatible cable, and I have been told that it also works fine.

2. Get the Drivers
3GCables has the drivers you need for the LG 225, as well as other phones. You can get the zipfile for LG here:

Once you have the files downloaded and extracted, connect your phone. When Windows asks for a driver point it to a file in thee appropriate folder (for Windows 2000 use Win2K for example). Yes, the drivers aren't signed or Windows Logo tested, but unless you have XP Pro (see warning 2) they will work fine. Once you have the hardware set up you can delete the driver download from where you put it; the files are already copied elsewhere.

3. Connect and Enjoy
Create a dialup connection (STi Mobile 1xRTT is a good name for it) with your new "LG CDMA USB Modem". The access number is #777. The password is blank. Then go into your modem options and set the modem speed as high as it will go (926100 bps on Windows XP Home, 115200 on other OSes as far as I know) to you can get the fastest data rates, as the computer won't otherwise communicate with the phone any faster. But once that's done, just plug in the phone, hit connect with your new dialup connection, and wait about 5 seconds. You are now online; have fun!

Some people have said that Sprint\STi automatically compresses images when using their connection. I have found this not to be the case. Also, STi Mobile 1x data does not use minutes, so you can stay online as long as you want, but you MUST have the 19 cents a day extra web package (or the web + pictures package) in order to do this. Oh, and while your phone is online (it will actually hang up the data call when there hasn't been any data sent or received for a little while so that's nice) it's just like you're on the phone in that all incoming calls go to voicemail. At least it's not your landline giving a busy signal though...

With the above warnings and instructions in mind, enjoy the higher-than-dialup speeds CDMA2000 1x allows you! As an added bonus, try Google Web Accelerator; it's free and may help speed up the web a little more. But anyway, hope this helps all the poor souls still on dialup go a step up for about $8.70 a month. Have fun everyone! ### Siemens a56 & MovilListo First off, the phone that came with MovilListo's service, the Siemens a56, is pretty basic. The orange backlight is a departure from the norm (yellow-green) but isn't as bright as a result of the nature of the very color orange...which means the screen can't get as much contrast as, say, a yellow-green backlight or a blue backlight. Of course, the screen is black-and-white. The user interface is even more unintuitive, in my opinion, thanb Motorola's. In other words, you're going to have to think for a bit before knowing how to work the phone. Don't bother looking in the manual; it's all in Spanish. Ringers are loud enough, though monophonic of course. The phone is unlocked so you can put in whatever SIM yoiu want and it will work (I successfully tried both T-Mobile To Go and Cingular postpaid cards). Of course, you'll probably want to keep your SIM in the phone it started out in. The phone is small but its shape makes holding it somewhat annoying. Being the long-fingered brute that I am, my hand would get in the way of itself sometimes when using the phone. Battery life is OK, though not phenominal in any respect, which is interesting considering the fact that the phone is baclk-and-white and GSM. But anyway... The phone is unlocked, or did I say that already? Anyway, Cingular and T-Mobile To Go both work in it, besides MovilListo itself, but I can't think of a reason you'd want to put anyone else's SIM card into that phone, unless it won't work in any other... Now to service, since it looks like I haven't missed anything as to phone hardware itself. As advertised the rate is a flat 13.3 cents a minute. In other words, 3 minutes costs 40 cents. The phone came with 10 minutes preloaded plus a 40-minute card, which I added almost immediately. I would need to buy a$10 card, which I got at CheapPhoneCards for $9.50 with teh coupon code "cheap", later. And yes, the phone number you get is most definately toll-fre. It's a 1-888 number, and I'd put mine here but for the fact that I don't remember all of it (the last four digits are 0148 I think). But that number is only for people to call you on... You see, internally MovilListo seems to use a callback system for their service, which operates on T-Mobile, at least for the most part. More on the network and how the callback system affects call quality etc. later on. But the main thing here is that if you call someone from your phone they will see a 500-xxx-xxx number on their caller ID screen, and they can't call you back at that number. Wierd, huh? And if you want to call your own voicemail from your own phone things get a little wierder. First you call 711, then you put in your 500-xxx-xxxx mailbox number, then you hit * (I think) to get the password prompt, then you put in your password, then you can access your messages. The point is that the service isn't quite easy to use. Another peeve is that if someone calls you at your 1-888 number the airtime clock starts ticking before the call connects. So you pay for all incoming calls, even those that don't go to voicemail but are still unanswered. Plus, on the calling end the callback system "connects" the call before your phone starts ringing; their end gets charged too whether you answer or not. AHHHH! One good thing: I though voicemail detracted airtime at a double-minute rate. Thankfully, it doesn't. Now to the system specs. As said before, it runs off of T-Mobile in most places. The remaining coverage seems to be from T-Mobile roaming partners; I guess MovilListo got the new T-Mobile To Go coverage before T-Mobile To Go did...too bad the service won't go onto Cingular when it really needs to...where there are coverage holes in T-Mobile service! Now to the crazy callback company...sorry, I had to use alliteration somewhere. Anyway, it seems the SIM, which is totally without branding (plain white plastic), sends a message to MovilListo when you dial a number and hit Call. Then, transparently, after about 5 seconds or maybe a little more, MovilListo quietly calls you back with a "Thank you" announcement. A few seconds later it says your balance and the call starts ringing. Overall it's a lengthy process;p I'm thinking the time is about 15-20 seconds, as opposed to maybe 5 seconds to connect, say, a T-Mobile call. This is most likely where the whole 500 number thing comes in. And this is probably why the system is rigged the way it is with your 1-888 number for calls from the outside and your 500 number for everything else. It's also probably why the SIM card seems poorly made; it locks up even the solid Nokia 6010 when you try to make a call out, or view your own number, or anything to do with the SIM card. Of course, the Nokia will power off just fine and still emits button-press tones, but the call doesn't connect or anything of that sort; the screen just goes white. And when you try to view contacts on the SIM, you get the error "SIM card not ready" on the 6010. Of course the a56 works fine but it's not a great phone at all. Strangely, incoming calls work just fine. Even more interesting, before the phone starts ringing the phone displays the message "Call forwrded". Another evidence of some wierd calling system. Oh, and the voice quality...it seems like there must be some sort of interference with the system or something to that effect. The last time I used MovilListo or its voicemail system, the clicks and clacks almost drowned out the voicemail instructions. Pretty bad. Fortunately, a lot of the time this doesn't happen, but some of the time it does. Wierd. So in summation, you get an old phone and cheap service for cheap. Yes, it has a toll free number, but in the end you'll probably want to just foot the bill for a cell phone with a local number; there are some cases where MovilListo works fine but it's simply not as polished as it should be. If you like to tinker, this service may be cheap enough, but if you don't I'd pass MovilListo by, at least until they get their issues worked out (they seem to be a relatively new company). ## Saturday, June 10, 2006 ### From Viewers Like You... I just got this email today...slightly edited... I was reading your post on pre-paid phones. I am a new Tracfone customer and decided to get the re-conditioned Nokia 1100 Tracfone deal. After using the phone I decided to purchase...the Motorola v170. This has turned out to be a big mistake. I live in [New Hampshire] and use these phones in the mountains...The Nokia put the Motorola to shame. I always get signal strenth on the Nokia were as the motorola displays no signal or emergency service only (the phones were tested held side by side in the same spot). Tracfone has sent me new replacement v170 models and they still show weak signals. The Motorola also has half the battery life and will only store phone numbers using the SIM card. The Nokia has the option of storing [contacts on the phone]. The bottom line is a fancy featured phone is useless unless you get service. My wife has the nokia and I am stuck with the...v170. Tracfone claims there is no difference in the phones. I hope the newer Motorolas work better. This isn't the first time I've heard not so great things about the Motorola v170. True, you can actually select what network you want to be on...for all of five minutes...but you can't get on a network the phone won't pick up, and that's a problem. The phone appears to be discontinued now (it is no longer on Tracfone's website) and I too hope that the next wave of Tracfone Motorolas will be better than a few years ago's iteration. Once again though, the v170 isn't worth$50. If you need a flip phone and want Tracfone then wait on the v176.

Keep the emails flowing in everybody! I like to hear from people who visit my site!

P.S. I plan to get the new Tracfone models as they come out. Please support me (hint: click ads that interest you) so I can do so and put the phone reviews here.

P.P.S. Yes, I will go on a roll and finish\do the following reviews soon, in the following order:

1) MovilListo service \ Siemens a56
2) Samsung a820 on STi Mobile
3) Tracfone Motorola c139
4) Tracfone Nokia 1100

Stay tuned!

## Friday, June 09, 2006

### Amazon Deals

It's interesting that Amazon actually offers phones that cingualr doesn't offer, and offers some phones at higher prices than Cingular offes, some at lower pices...but first a small announcement: if you want the VirginMobile Kyocera Switch_Back you can get it for $5 cheaper at Amazon than you can at virginmobilusa.com...now to the Cingular GoPhones...and by the way the T-Mobile To Go Razr is$220 on Amazon...

One last thing: I'm only showing the phones that aren't on Cingular's website or are cheaper than Cingular's website...of course DealKing Cingular discounts don't work here

Motorola v190 - $58 - Hey, it's a color flip with external caller ID...though not unlockable... Motorola v235 -$88 - It looks to be the camera phone version of the v190, and then some...I'd go with the Pantech though personally
Pantech C300 - $90 - Yes, this phone is$30 cheaper at Amazon than at Cingular's website...I'd get it at Amazon...
Sony Ericsson J220a - $48 - Looks to be the T290a's successor, and it looks to be OK, though for that price I'd get something else Sony Ericsson Z300 -$50 - Granted, with DealKing Cingular's own website is cheaper with this phone, but also granted that without DealKing Amazon is cheaper

So there you have it. Amazon has some phones that Cingular itself doesn't have on their site. If you want them, you now know where to go...

### GoPhones

This post goe shand in hand with the previous one, since it shows what GoPhones are available.

Before I start, Cingular won't let me get any of their phones online, even though there is Cingular service here, due to there being a lack of local numbers here. Someone help a poor sould and buy me some Cingular GoPhone Nokia...I'll PayPal them when I see the package headed my way for the price paid for the phone, minus $25 (DealKing gives$30 so you'll wind up with $5 extra). By the way, on Pick Your plan it looks like you can get$20 off instantly if you get a MEdiaNet data package when you get the phone. Hey, I'm all for free phones on hybrid plans...but personally I don't use enough minutes a month to justify paying $30 a month for them, even if they roll over. Anyway, here are the phones... Sony Ericsson T290a Refurbished -$30 (free with DealKing cash back) - This is a preetty old phone but is still pretty good. It's a bar phone but it is color and seems to work just fine. Just don't but it for putting it on T-Mobile though, unless you're also going to get the neccessary cable and software to do so; only Nokia and a select few other phones can be unlocked with a simple calculated code.

Nokia 6030 Refurbished - $30 (see above) - This is one nice phone. No, there's no camera, but it's thin, new and can do FM radio if you get the headset for it. And you can unlock it. If someone wanted to get me a Cingular phone, this would be the one I'd want. Yes, you can unlock it (I would) and put it on T-Mobile. Nokia 6061 -$40 ($10 with DealKing cash back) - The only flaw of this basic phone is that its earpiece is very, very small; you'll have volume issues if you don't place the pinhole speaker correctly over your ear. And no, it doesn't have an outer LCD. But yes, it's a Nokia and I wouldn't mind having it if the 6030 was out of reach. Nokia just makes good phones, that's all. Motorola v173 -$30 (um...see T290 about here) - Yes, this is the same phone that Tracfone sells as the v170, and Net10 sells as the v171. Yep, it has an abominably tiny screen for a flip phone, and there is no external LCD. And you can't unlock it easily. But it is free with DealKing's "rebate".

Sony Ericsson z300a - $60 ($30 with DalKing) - This phone, complete with a round external display, is on the newer, higher end of things, and is priced as such, though you aren't easily taking it to T-Mobile as far as I know. But it is a pretty good phone, especially for $30. Pantech C300 -$120 ( $90 with DealKing) - Someone unlock this, quick! This phone is the world's smallest camera flip phone, at least Cingular thinks so, trumping the Razr lengthwise and widthwise by a fair amount and having an LCD just as beautiful on the outside as on the inside (both are 262,000 color, aka 18-bit for techies who want to figure out the last three numbers). Plus its camera is 1.3 megapixels. And it's a good bit cheaper than the Razr. Though it is about half again as thick as the Razr, and unlike the Razr has an external antenna. But it's not bad for$90.

Then there's the Razr, weighing in at a hefty $250, or$220 with DealKing's cash back. My question: why not just get a refurbed unit at TigerDirect and pay around $180 for an unlocked version of the same phone? Beats me. Anyway, that's the current Cingular lineup. And yes, I'll take and pay for either the Pantech or the two Nokias if anyone's interested. ### DealKing OK so now our favorite prepaid refill card store has a deal site so competitive that FatWallet (a huge deal site) deletes posts regarding it...DealKing... Full disclosure: eventually DealKing will have a referral system and all DealKing links on this site will be referral links. But not yet. Anyway, the only thing I don't like about DealKing's coupon section is that it has about 3 coupons for each deal that are exactly the same. But here are the deals, leaving out postpaid (LetsTalk etc.) offers: Amp'd Mobile The deals on this company (of which I will talk about in a later post) aren't as great for prepaid as they were last week or so, but they are OK nonetheless. For postpaid, which only has an 18-month (not 2-year) contract you can get some super phones for next to nothing... First off, Amp'd has the aforementioned 18-month contract. Yes, it's a contract, but it's not quite the horribly dull two years that other providers do. Yes, the phones cost upfront, but not horribly much, especially with a$40 credit by DealKing. The Kyocera Jet and Angel slider phones, with the payback, would be a mere $9, nice for MP3 cameraphones, and the Motorola e816 Hollywood,$99 on Amp'd website, would be just $60. Groovy. Second, Amp'd prepaid gets$15 back from DealKing. This doesn't do much to make a dent in the somewhat high phone prices, but it does help a little, taking the Jet and Angel down to $84 (from$99 after a mailin rebate) and the Hollywood down to $134. T-Mobile Whatever you decide to get, postpaid or prepaid, DealKing gets you$25 off. So the aging Nokia 6010 would be only $25, the Samsung x495 only$75, the Nokia 6101 cameraphone (nice) only $125, and the Razr$225...and the Sidekick II $305. For most of these phones, however, you can get them elsewhere (eBay, TigerDirect, whatever) for a bit less and get a T-Mobile SIM card for less than$10 on eBay with more minutes than are in the normal starter kits included with T-Mobile To Go phones. But if you want to be tame here's a good way to really get prepaid without getting burned.

By the way, remember to refill before midnight (end of the day) of your expiration date. Otherwise you will find your minutes horrifyingly gone the next day, though you can pick upo where you left off as far as Gold Rewards go. And yes, I learned this by experience. :( $60 or so in TMobile airtime...gone... Cingular In a word:$30. In more than a word: DealKing, with its $30 back promo, renders quite a few Cingular GoPhones absolutely free. I'll talk about what the selection is a post or two down the line. My recommendation: Nokia. They're generally good, they're cheap, and you can easily unlock them (or ask me for an unlock code) so you can put them onto T-Mobile or whoever else who is better than Cingualr with their poor 25 cent a minute rates. Geesh...a short call costs more than it would on a payphone! Tracfone Whoda thunk it? You can actually get a better deal on a Tracfone than you thought could be had! Going through DealKing's website yields$5. Not huge, until you realize that the most expensive Tracfone available is $50, or$100 with a 1-year card. Cheaper Tracfones are around $25 including shipping and tax. Net10 A few months ago I wouldn't have put this in the prepaid section, but now with the arrival of a$150 1-year card and $30 60-day card this branch of Tracfone squeaks by. Plus, the phones all include 300 minutes \ 60 days worth or airtime. Phones start at$40 (refurb Nokia 1100) and get more expensive the higher you go up on the feature chain (Moto c139 is $60, v171 is$100) but so do discounts, though they stay very small...5%...but it's better than nothing.

So that's what's available as far as prepaid phone discounts go with DealKing. Have a nice time taking advantages of these offers.

### Virgin Mobile Phones

Sorry for the delay; Blogger messed up yesterday and I was busy the day before. But here's a little bit of info:

This is going to be a short post becuse this company's phones aren't great. But they are cheap, at least some of them:

Refurb K7 Rave (black & white, old phone) - $20 (only includes$2.50 in airtime)
Refurb V5 Slider (color, old but still good phone) - $30 (again, only includes$2.50 in airtime)
Kyocera K10 Royale (color, cheapest phone with web ability) - $30 (see above) Audiovox 8610 (not a great phone, though it is a color flip with external screen) -$50 (includes $10 in airtime) Nokia Shorty (2116i, nice though basic black-and-white phone) -$50 (includes a whopping $40 in airtime) Audiovox 8915 (Snapper, camera phone) -$100 (only $2.50 in airtime) Kyocera Switch_back (ugly, though text-oriented, phone) -$150 (see above for airtime)
Kyocera Slider Sonic (music phone, pretty nice features) - Same price\etc as Switch_Back phone

## Tuesday, June 06, 2006

### Tracfone News

Sorry everyone. I'll start posting more regularly now...

First, Tracfone has some sweet deals:

1. Refer-a-friend is now 120 minutes instead of just 100, probably due to the fact that the $30 card is now 120, instead of 100, units. Plus, promo code 54604 adds 30 minutes to the previously "un-promo-able" airtime, or any other airtime card for that matter, though you can only use the code once per phone. In short, this means that you can get a new Tracfone of any sort and start out with an amazing 170 minutes on it. And if you are willing to use a refurbished Nokia 1100 as your phone you'll get at least 60 more units (plus any promos on 60-minute cards you can scrounge up) for a total of 230. Even with tax and shipping this will get you fairly close to 10 cents a Tracfone is coming out with some new phones! And one of them is...yeah I know God forbid but I saw it with my own two eyes on Tracfone's website...a camera phone! Tracfone recently release the reasonable svelte, reasonably modern Motorola c139 bar phone for$30, then marked the price down to $20. I've said ut before and I will say it again: this is probably their replacement for the aging c155. And it's a pretty good replacement, but for one thing: incoming text messages now cost 0.3 units, just like outgoing ones do. I guess Cingular gave Tracfone Cingularitis, that is to say, started charging Tracfone for incoming texts just like they charge their own GSM prepaid options. I am going to review this phone; see item 3... So what's next? Why, replacements for the Nokia 1100 and Motorola v170 of course! Plus Tacfone's first cameraphone! Looks like GSM is much cheaper for Tracfone to buy minutes with or something to that effect, and thus they're pushing GSM to surpass the standard set by their excellent CDMA Nokia 2126. One note of warning though: all new GSM Tracs deduct 0.3 units for incoming texts, even the welcome message as I found out, just like the Motorola c139. Bleh; no more Yahoo SMS messenger using Tracfones... First off, the Nokia 1112. It, naturally, is a step up from the long-toothed but still good 1100. The most obvious addition is a 4-way D-pad and the now-standard two-navigation-button system found in, well, all of Nokia's mainstream phones. This is to be contrasted with the 1100's menu system, which uses the much older, albeit still quite usable, Navi system, which has a select (Navi) key in the center, up\down buttons on the right and a clear button on the left. The older system dates back to the 5125\5165\5185 phones (circa 1999 I think...but maybe 2000 or 2001 at the very latest). Okay, the two-button navigation sytem dates back to the higher-end (6160 etc.) models of the same period, but they weren't\aren't as common as the Navi interface, and the 4-way D-pad looks to be a more modern creation. Anyway, I'd expect the 1112 to replace the 1100 eventually at$20 new or $20 refurbished plus a 60-minute airtime card. But wait! I just looked and the phone also has longer talk time (5 vs. 3 hours, though standby time is 15 vs. 16 days) than the 1100 and can hold 200, instead of just 50, contacts in the phone's address book. Oh, and the site says the phone has polyphonic ringtones. I at first thought 'fat chance' and was about to write the same here, since the Motorola c139 is incorrectly marked as having poly tones (it doesn't). But then I looked on Nokia's website and sure enough, the phone has poly ringtones. Sweet. It also has a groovy white backlight. Oh, and the phones is thinner and lighter than its old counterpart. That's always good. And the phone's end button is also its power button, something that most other cell phone manufacturers have done for awhile but something Nokia is just now starting to do. Below are the links to Tracfone's 1112 page and Nokia's: http://www.tracfone.com/content/nokia1112.jsp http://nokiausa.com/phones/1112/0,7747,feat:1,00.html Next up, the Motorola v176. I'd like to call it "the poor man's PEBL" mainly due to what it looks like on the outside: rubberized...or at least nice and black. In other words, Tracfone has come out with a pretty stylish phone in my opinion. The trend seems to continute with the c261...but anyway the other features that set this phone apart from the v170, the phone it will probably replace, are a speakerphone (yay...no wait...it's half-dublex...listen-only...dang), a color display that actually deserves to be on the inside of a flip (yay! down with the postage stamp on the v170) and a little bit smaller form factor. This phone may come into the market at$50, but then again it may start at a higher price because of its better features.

http://www.tracfone.com/content/motorolav176.jsp

http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=708

Third and last, but certainly not least, the Motorola c261. Yes, it has a camera. Yes, it's 640x480. No, I don't know whether the ease of GSM data roaming will facilitate Tracfone picture messaging, and of course no I don't know how much it will cost to send a picture message. But this is one slick phone, especially for Tracfone. It looks like it shares the v176's 128x160 screen, which is huge for a bar phone, as well as the v176's half-duplex speakerphone. Oh, and it has a camera; the v176 doesn't. And, last but not least, the dang thing is thin. As in thin...0.59" thin, which is actually 0.01" thinner than the original CDMA Razr (v3c) and only 0.05" thicker than the GSM Razrs and the new CDMA Razr v3m. Not bad for a Tracfone; not bad at all. It even looks somewhat stylish! I don't know how much this will cost, but if it's even relativly cheap I'm going to pick it up. Looks like a sweet phone to me, and one giant leap ahead for Tracfone-kind. :)