Saturday, August 23, 2008

Boost Intros i776, Free Directions to Reboost Locations

Looks like Boost Mobile is actually expanding their handset lineup now. Dennis from (who has incidentally come upon an invite code to the awesome Skyfire mobile browser, good until August 30th) tipped me to the presence of the Motorola i776 on Target's website. No price, no online and no in-stock message for stores anywhere near me (to be expected) but it's coming. Engadget doesn't like it, but really you have to give Sprint\Motorola credit: it's a nice phone on what is, for Sprint anyway, a dying technology. The i776, like the i875 that Boost used to sell, has a lot of features (camera, Bluetooth, external color screen) though there are no external music controls on this one. But at least there's something available better than, say, the i855 (no Bluetooth) or the i355 (no camera).

According to Sprint's own roadmap, the phone will probably come out next month (Q4 '08), which isn't too bad. I'd say the phone will run about $100 on Boost Mobile, who is now subsidizing their phones at least a little, as oppoed to the days of yore when you could get a top-of-the-line i885...for $400.

So if you must have walkie-talkie and GPS Boost will soon have a more feature-rich, if not attractive, phone for ya.

Speaking of GPS, looks like Boost will allow use of its turn-by-turn directions software for free...if you're looking for a place to reboost. Of course, the only benefit to this is if you either don't have a credit card (in which case you would be able to add airtime to your phone by dialing *ADD) or you're looking for a random convenience store somewhere nearby, which you may or may not get with the Reboost locator. Stll, it's a nice touch.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Net10: w377 Coming Soon

If you're wondering when Net10 will come out with something comparable to the Bluetooth-enabled, hard-plastic-keypad Motorola w376 that is already on Tracfone, the answer is "soon". The Sweeper over on the forums just caught a glance at the Motorola w377, essentially the w376 with a different color scheme, on the Net10 phone activation selector, on the Net10 website. It'll bw a nice addition to Net10's lineup of phones and will probably cost the same as the w375 does now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

TNT Meets VM

Looks like the Kyocera TNT (S200) is finally available, after a long period of vaporware, on Virgin Mobile's online store. Pushing the Marbl (K127) down to $12.99 and the LG Aloha to $9.99, this new phone on the block has looks reminiscent of the non-Virgin Mobile version of the Marbl: the K132 "Velvet". Except this time there's a narrow caller ID display on the soft-touch outside of the phone rather The phone also looks a bit higher-end, with styling cues from the Kyocera Deco S1000 such as a rounded-rectangle footprint with a single barrel hinge and big, contigious buttons. Of course, what I just said is simply taken from the photos on Virgin Mobile's website but it still makes for good buzzword bingo, right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quick Tracfone Deal

Just as an update to the parade of deals evinced by postings over on the forum, the LG CG225 is now just $59 over at Wal-Mart's online site. Granted, it has been seen for $50 on Tracfone's site, but with Wal-Mart you can get the phone shipped to a store for free, whereas Tracfone shipping deals come and go. Then again, the LG 600g may be worth the extra $20. More on that when I reiew that phone...after I review all of these other phones I have sitting around...after I finish my physics homework tonight.

Yep, it's that time of year again; I'm in school :/

Monday, August 18, 2008

iWireess, Now With More Phones & Plans

Looks like Kroger's Sprint-based iWireless brand is upping the ante a bit on features, making them a viable alternative to one of the mainline carriers (Virgin Mobile comes to mind) for certain applications...

First off, their phone lineup has improved, and all phones now come with $50 in airtime built in, a very nice amount to start off with so you can take full advantage of all the service's features right out of the box, no refill required. The phone pricing actually isn't that bad when you count the $50 in included airtime into the equation, and the variety is better than your typical Sprint-based prepaid:

LG 145 (aka LG 200c on Tracfone) - $50
LG 160 (almost aka Flare on Virgin Mobile) - $70
LG 150 - $80
UTStarCom 7025 - $50
Sanyo Katana II - $120
LG Rumor (finally a nice texting phone on prepaid for a decent price!) - $150

Before you mention it, yes, Kajeet also has the LG Rumor, but at $100 for the phone alone (plus $50 for the included airtime) this deal is a lot better. Plus there's a plan to use it: $19.99 per month gets you unlimited text messaging. Not as good as Virgin Mobile maybe, where $19.99 or even $10 (depending on your plan) gets unlimited messaging of all types, but iWireless' phone is better for the price, with an mp3 player, memory card slot and a non-Kyocera brand name.

iWireless has also redone their rate structure. All refills last 90 days, but that's not the big's the rundown, cheapest per month to most expensive:

1. 25 cent daytime minute with 10 cent nights and weekends starting at 6 p.m. (not a misprint, nights are 6 p.m. on iWireless!)
2. 15 cent anytime minutes, 10 cents per minute extra to Mexico
3. $4.99 per month plus 10 cent anytime minutes
4. $29.99 per month for unlimited nights and weekends starting at 6 p.m. (!), 10 cent minutes at other times

A quick analysis shows that if you use 100 minutes or more per month, the $5 a month plan is best. If you use mostly night and weekend minutes (2x or more as many as weekday minutes) the 25/10 plan is good up until 300 minutes per month. Or if you use 100 anytime minutes and 250 night and weekend minutes (or more) the $29.99 a month fee pays for itself. I like math ;)

EDITED: So, in short, you have a very good wireless service rate-wise with a few unique features (nights starting at 6 p.m.) and several decent phones to choose from (mostly LG) at a reasonable price. You can get them online (contrary to what I said before, thanks to offthegrid for correcting my egregious error) and the list of stores where they're available is rather large: King Sooper's, Kroger, Fry's (food, not electronics), Smith's, CItyMarket, Dillons, Ralphs, Food4Less, FredMeyer or QFC. Betcha the same company owns all of 'em.

But if you can, in many cases it's a better option than Virgin Mobile (free incoming texts, nights starting at 6 p.m., better phones, cheaper 10-cent rate plan, cheaper per-minute rate plan) or STi Mobile (better phones, better night-and-weekend plan, etc.). I've already recommended the service to a friend who has Virgin, and he may very well switch, since a King Sooper's isn't too far away here in Colorado.

Net10 Intros 1-year and 2-year Cards

Want a "set it and forget it" cell phone service that works anywhere and doesn't take $3-ish out of your balance every month? Looks like Net10 takes the cake here, though Tracfone comes close with its now-infinitely stackable airtime (Net10 also has infinitely stackable airtime)...

You see, Net10 now has 1-year and 2-year cards (thanks to The Sweeper for pointing 'em out!) at $200 and $400 respectively. Yes, they cost more than the early termination fee on a cellular contract, however these $200 or $400 fees actually give service for a year or two, instead of being the penalty for giving up service before a year (or two) is up.

The one-year card gives 2000 minutes, at the usual Net10 10 cents per minute face value. Like the $100 6-month card you get a total cost of $16.67 per month plus tax on the service, assuming you don't use up any minutes over the 2000 in one year. The two-year card, which has the same monthly cost, includes 1000 "bonus" minutes, lowering the rate per minute to a mere eight cents, with no other work required. This isn't as good as the $75-a-month 1000-minute plan also available from Net10, but the cost per month is much, MUCH less with the two-year card, and eight-cent calling with four-cent text messages is hard to beat even on a "real" contract.

Though of course if you buy one of these cards, you just made Tracfone very happy; $200 or $400 is more than enugh to subsidize the phone that you're using with their service, making a phone plus a one- or two-year card a decidedly non-loss-leader product.

But hey, this is a rather innovative, quite inexpensive per-month and per-minute development, so I'm all for it. Oh, and it's one less bill or refill to worry about...for two years!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

XSPCS & Movida Nights @ 7 pm

Yes yes I know I need to get some phone reviews up here but I have another rather large project I have to work on at the moment, so maybe tomorrow...

Anyhow, the newest Sprint reseller (or one of the newest; it appears to have been started in the winter of 2007) on the block is KDDI, the Japanese cellular carrier who has decided to call their service X/S PCS Mobile. You know, like X for eXtreme and S PCS for Sprint PCS? Anyhow, these guys have a slightly different mix of plans versus the average Sprint based MVNO, though under the friendly cartoon penguins nothing is too appealing.]

First off you have the phone seleciton: the LG 125 and 225 (seen 'em before everywhere), the Sanyo 2400 (halway decent but rather old)...and something resembling a modern, high-tech phone, the LG 350! The darned thing has Bluetooth, a 1.3 megapixel camera and an external display. No EvDO (not missed; X/S PCS Mobile doesn't have data support at all) but it can print pictures via Pictbridge, provided you have the right cable and a relatively modern printer.

Second, you have the availability: none online from a quick search, but it appears as though 6th Avenue Electronics and New Jersey Cumberland Farms locations have the phone. Refills are available anywhere Coinstar products are sold, which doesn't include places like (one of our sponsors, click the ad if you please)

The rates? Not great. All refills, even the $10 card, have the distinction of giving you 45 days of service time, however per-minute rates aren't anything to write home about in this age of sub-10-cent minutes: depending on the airtime card you get, rates vary from 11.1 to 12 cents per minute. The cheapest refill is, naturally, the largest ($50) however the most expensive one is the $30 refill but about a tenth of a cent!

But that's the regular plan...

A happy sunglassed penguin points out another X/S PCS Mobile (mouthful eh?) plan: unlimited incomiung. A $60 card, good for 30 days of service and 400 minutes outgoing, gets your service startedd (phones come with 80 minutes of service preloaded). Cheaper cards are available, but their expirations are so abysmal that the only card making monetary sense in this system is the $60 one. If any other card is chosen, you might as well just get an unlimited incoming and outgoing plan from Virgin Mobile, who runs on the same network, for $80 per month. Discounting incoming minutes and assuming you wanted to buy such cards, airtime rates vary from 13.9 to 15 cents per minute on the lower denomination cards; 15 cents per minute is the airtime rate on both $30 and $60 cards, with $50 again being cheapest.

In short, X/S PCS Mobile is only good for a VERY small and specialized group of people: those who don't use a ton of outgoing minutes but use enough incoming minutes (800+ by my calculation per month) to make unlimited incoming calling cheaper and more compelling than a product on the same network from a different provider.

In other news, Movida has added an option to their "Max Plus" plan: for $3 additional per month nights and weekends can start at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. This welcome option makes sense if even sixteen minutes of airtime are used in a month between 7 and 9 p.m., assuming those minutes would push you over what's essentially a contract-less "normal" cell phone plan with rollover minutes (don't sue me AT&T).