Should I Buy an Unlocked iPhone?

Should I Buy an Unlocked iPhone?The tech world is abuzz with the announcement that Apple is now selling unlocked iPhones in the US for the first time ever. An unlocked phone is sold without a contract, and is free to be used on any carrier on the same wireless frequency, all you need to do is swap out the SIM card. You could use an unlocked iPhone on AT&T or T-Mobile in the US, and on a variety of carriers should you be traveling elsewhere in the world.

The question is: should you buy an unlocked iPhone? Is it worth it? The price can be a little off-putting to your average US cell user, mostly because we are used to seeing contract-subsidized prices. $650 is a lot more money than $200, but there are some tradeoffs that you may need to take into account that could end up saving you money in the long run.

The first plus of buying an unlocked phone is that you are not tied down to a contract from your cell carrier. If you are unhappy with AT&T’s service, you are free to leave and bring your phone over to T-Mobile without worrying about an Early Termination Fee (ETF). ETFs can run hundreds of dollars depending on how long you have remaining on your contract, which is a lot of money to pay just to switch cell carriers. With an unlocked iPhone, however, you are free to change without any fear of a penalty.

Secondly, you might even be able to save money on your monthly bill depending on your carrier. While AT&T doesn’t give a monthly rate discount for phones purchased contract-free, T-Mobile has a plan that is cheaper than its usual plans that doesn’t include a phone subsidy. It’s not available online; you have to call and ask for it, but if you want to use an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile, give the company a call and ask for the “Even More Plus” plans. The plans are significantly cheaper than its other plans, so you can save a lot on your monthly bill with an unlocked iPhone.

Finally, unlocked iPhones come with the bonus of being able to work all over the world. If you go on vacation to Europe, for instance, you won’t have to bother with expensive Europe roaming plans or buying a pay-as-you-go phone once you get there. Just bring your unlocked iPhone and buy a prepaid SIM card in any convenience store, swap it into your iPhone, and you will be good to go for much less money than if you had to buy a whole new phone just for your vacation.

If you have the money up front, buying an unlocked iPhone will probably end up saving you money in the long run, especially if you travel a lot or want to use T-Mobile instead of AT&T. In addition, the resale value of unlocked iPhones (especially official Apple unlocked iPhones) will be much higher, as they will work all over the world and people without official iPhone options in their country will be willing to pay more for an unlocked version. However, if you plan on sticking with AT&T and your iPhone for the duration of the two-year contract and don’t plan on traveling a significant amount, the usual contract-locked iPhone is probably still going to be the best choice for you.

San Francisco vs. AT&T and the Battle of the U-Verse Utility Boxes

I was born and raised in ‘The City’ aka San Francisco. I still have a fondness for the area, even though I have relocated. I also have quite a few friends, family and acquaintances that I stay in contact with over the years, so I generally keep in touch with what is happening in the Bay Area.

One of the hot topics of conversation is the battle going on between San Francisco residents and AT&T over the placement of approximately 800 utility boxes that need to be installed for U-Verse service. Opponents state that the utility boxes are an eyesore to the landscape and wonder why AT&T cannot bury the boxes underground. Proponents do not care about aesthetics and want the fast broadband service that U-Verse offers.

One would think that since San Francisco is located in the center of one of the largest technology hot-spots in the world, this should be a non-issue. But neighborhood advocates are up in arms over the proposal and promise a battle in the courts over this issue.

What is humorous about this dispute is that there are people across the U.S. who would welcome fast broadband access with the utility boxes installed. So while AT&T is trying to cater to a small group of activists, who would have most likely been against the cable cars when they were proposed, I have just one question: Why bother?

This is the same city that refused to work with Google, when that company offered free Wi-Fi citywide. The SF board of supervisors placed so many contingencies on the placement of cell towers, offering of better services to certain areas, plus faster speeds, that Google and Verizon pulled out of the deal.

It will never cease to amaze me how some folks can reject the newest technology while others wait hopelessly to just get rid of their old dialup connection.

Are You Wasting Money On Unnecessary Cell Phone Contracts?

A recent study of UK users shows that most consumers are wasting money on cell phone plans that provide more than they use. The study also concludes that consumers are over spending by hundreds of dollars every year and could save big bucks by changing plans. If you’re one of those who is over spending for services that you are not fully using, my question to you is: why?

Pre-paid cell plans abound and they may not be right to for you; they can be an alternative for some of us. During the past few years, cell phone companies offering pre-paid plans have surfaced that offer reasonable rates without signing up for a two-year contract. The pre-paid plans allow the consumer to pick which plan is right for them. But there is one ‘gotcha’ about pre-paid plans. Services from pre-paid subscriptions vary widely and service may not be available where you live.

The key to finding a pre-paid service is to know which of the major carriers the company uses. As an example, Straight Talk uses both Verizon and AT&T to carry its services. Prices range from $30 a month for limited usage [1,000 talk, 100 text, and 50 MB data] and $45 a month for unlimited service. Where I live, Verizon works the best so I went with a Straight Talk limited plan and it works great for me.

Walmart recently introduced a mobile cell service plan with reasonable rates: three phones for as little as $95 a month. The service offered by Walmart uses the T-Mobile network, which unfortunately does not work well where I live. But for those who live in an area that is serviced by T-Mobile, this is an extremely attractive offering.

Another pre-paid service is from the folks at Common Cents. The company rounds down your minutes and not up, which is typically done by most other carriers. Common Cents is a part of Virgin Mobile and is associated with Sprint. Neither provides services in my area, but may where you live. I would recommend you check with family or friends who are using Virgin Mobile or Sprint and see how the service works where you reside.

If you do your homework, you may be able to get a pre-paid service that will meet your needs at a lower price.

Comments welcome.

Source – MobileCrunch

AT&T iPhone Users Use Wi-Fi More Than Verizon iPhone Users [Study]

A survey released this morning from the mobile ad exchange company Mobclix reveals that users of the Verizon iPhone use Wi-Fi less often than users of the AT&T iPhone. Also revealed in the study, Mobclix’s data suggests that larger metropolitan cities have a higher amount of iPhone usage over the AT&T iPhone.

According to the graph published by Mobclix, the largest areas of Verizon iPhone usage include Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. This is due to the common assumption that AT&T has signal problems in large dense cities.

In its report Mobclix also reports that AT&T iPhone users use Wi-Fi about 53% of the time and Verizon users use their Wi-Fi 38% of the time. The only explanation of this is the reception problem with AT&T. Users get so fed up with dropped signal that they find the nearest open Wi-Fi point and continue with what they are doing. Granted, this isn’t an optimal way to use an iPhone and you can’t make calles over Wi-Fi but for most users they seem pretty happy about it.

Note that AT&T has a vast Wi-Fi hotspot network with over 24,000 hotspots throughout the U.S., and with the iPhone supporting auto-authentication, these points are easy to pick up and connect to when traveling or on-the-go. Another bonus to throw in is that none of the Wi-Fi usage counts towards the monthly data usage plan.

The best part about this graph is the number of users who paid the $325 early termination fee to switch to the Verizon iPhone. 2 in 3 users paid that fee with the reasons being all the same and talked about reception issues and the Personal Hotspot feature.

Mobclix mentions that 14% of iPhone 4 users are on the Verizon Network and account for 4% of total iPhone users, which is pretty good for only being on the Verizon network for a month.

Broadband Usage Increase – Is It Because We Have More Devices Connecting To The Internet?

I was thinking this morning how things have changed in my own household in just ten years. Ten years ago I had two computers, one for me and one for my wife, connected to the Internet. Just five years ago we had only increased our broadband usage in our home by adding one additional laptop computer with a connection to the Internet. In the past year we have added more devices, so this morning I did a head count of just how many devices we had in our home with Internet access.

Computers: I have one desktop for gaming, and three laptop computers for a total of four.

Tablet – one Apple iPad

Chrome – one Cr-48 test computer.

Roku – two Rokus for streaming video to two HDTVs.

DirecTV – one device for streaming video from DirecTV.

Total number of devices: nine

So is it the number of devices we use in our home the cause of increased broadband usage or is it what we are doing with the devices that is increasing our usage? I would venture a guess that is it a combination of both. Netflix has become to new culprit that ISPs like to blame for our uncontrolled usage of broadband. The ISPs state that one could exceed a 250GB limit easily by streaming video into our homes, which some ISP companies claim can be done in as little as 10.5 days.

AT&T recently announced that the company would impose a 250GB cap starting soon. This may sound like a reasonable amount since AT&T provided its own figures that the average user only uses 18GB a month. But what about in a few years as more of us buy more tablet computers or signs up to stream video and/or TV programs? Those GB may go quickly and the ISPs will be the ones that benefit by adding higher charges to what they call broadband hogs.

Also adding to our GB woes are those who also use Skype or other video chatting services. So between all of these online services that we may use, broadband limits may come back someday to bite us in the rear end. For the causal Internet surfer this may not be a problem. But for those who want to take advantage of everything the Internet will offer, it could be.

So will the tiered pricing scheme have an affect on your surfing needs?

Comments welcome.

Source – gigaom

How I Left AT&T for Something Better and Saved Money Doing it

Unlike most of the posts you’ll find on the Frugal Geek, this one is going to be somewhat personal, and possibly a little controversial. I try my hardest to be as objective as possible when reviewing a service, device, or program. It’s important to me that each and every subject be covered as impartially as possible and given a fair shake. If the first generation of a gadget was absolutely terrible, that’s not to say that version 2 or 3 won’t be breathtaking. There is one area in which my personal opinion really needs to be expressed and that’s AT&T.

I worked for AT&T once, and so did my wife. We worked hard for the company and did our very best during our time there to reflect good business standards and live up to what we perceived to be a steller experience for our customers. Over time, our jobs changed and our opinions remained somewhat steadfast that AT&T was a decent service provider.

More recently, however, AT&T has hit us with wave after wave of terms of service changes, bizarre and unpredictable charges, and otherwise unacceptable amounts of downtime. Between my wife and I, our mobile service and home U-verse plans cost us between $300-400 per month. This is not including a home phone or any television service at all. This is how much it costs to have smartphones and decent broadband at home. What we apparently aren’t paying for is stable uptime, consistent speeds, or a decent wireless router.

What we got was a flakey router the carrier refused to switch out after multiple visits to our apartment. Each time, they blamed us, that’s right US, for the router’s inability to maintain a solid connection. either a switch we installed down the line interrupted the connection or one of our computers were bogging it down. I may not be an expert on connectivity but after having worked tech support for an umber of years, I’d like to imagine I have at least a basic grasp of how a network works.

The next surprise we received as long-time customers was a terms of service change that put a cap on how much data we can send or receive each month. If we surpassed the cap, overage charges starting at $10 are assessed. This in the middle of a contract, not before or after. This means that unless we give up using Hulu for AT&T’s own U-verse TV service, we would face the potential of having to pay much more for our web connection.

My apartment complex has a contract with AT&T that states residents can only have AT&T U-Verse service for their home internet and no other provider can come out to the complex. This is sadly becoming a problem that most apartment dwellers are beginning to face as service providers fight to lock in territory free of competition. Finding an apartment isn’t so much about floor space and rental rates as it is determining which provider has proprietary control over the complex. My wife and I aren’t big fans of Time Warner, as they too decided to tinker with capping monthly usage, so we hunted for a place that didn’t force-feed tenants their service.

The absolute final straw in this whole debacle came when AT&T announced plans to acquire T-Mobile. If anyone out there believes the official AT&T word about this being a benefit of some kind to the consumer, you’re dreaming. Never has having no or little competition been in the best interest of the consumer. The reason Apple is loved so much by so many people is because they’re providing competition to Microsoft, Nokia, and Google. If Apple dominated every market and bought up their competition it would be better for their bottom line, but there would be no incentive to innovate beyond where they currently stand.

So with that said, I started searching for alternatives. Because we couldn’t have any wired service provided by any company other than AT&T, we looked to WiMax providers popular in the area. One such provider is Clear, which gives their customers unlimited data through the same tower network as Sprint.

I check out their plans and discovered a combo package that gives customers a 4G home modem that can be connected to a router for wireless and wired connectivity as well as a mobile hotspot that gives you access to the internet on WiFi enabled devices wherever you go within Clear’s 4G range. There are devices available through the service that aren’t picky about having a 4G connection, but I chose this one since I spend 99% of my time in a 4G zone.

This means my devices, including my iPad, iPod Touch, and notebook are connected to a pretty solid 4G network no matter where I am. As I mentioned in a previous article, a 4th generation iPod Touch and even an iPad can make a very handy mobile phone if paired with a VOIP service like Line2 or Skype. I managed to get this plan for $60/month which is an extremely steep drop from the outrageous $160 I was paying on AT&T for our limited U-verse connection and a single smartphone.

With almost $100/month saved and a portable hotspot in my pocket wherever I go, I don’t know why I bothered staying with AT&T for so long in the first place. My wife is still on AT&T wireless until her contract is up, but for now I hope AT&T will eventually understand that getting rid of your competition isn’t as big of a benefit to customers as just keeping their service up, and their terms and the rates consistent.

If you have any input on this subject, in agreement or disagreement, please comment below and let your voice be heard.

AT&T Buys T-Mobile USA

To the tune of $39 billion, T-Mobile USA is being sold to AT&T, according to BusinessWire. AT&T states that the acquisition allows for a combination of network resources creating a better infrastructure for service.

This agreement gives 4G LTE coverage to over 34 million T-Mobile subscribers. AT&T has agreed to further their commitment to 4G LTE expansion to include 95 percent of their U.S. customers. This would allow for better support for their rural customers in addition to smaller towns.

“This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO.

While this certainly will affect customers from both major networks, the agreement has the potential of setting standards other carriers will be more inclined to follow. Tom Merit of TWiT tweeted, “T-Mobile’s flimsy 4G gets a boost with this I guess. So if Sprint does flip to LTE, we could have a standard in the US.”

Still, this does bring in to question whether or not AT&T’s recent crackdown on bandwidth usage through caps and fees will extend to an even larger customer base.

Source: BusinessWire

Are Big Corporations Trying to Shut Down the Internet?

In front of a crowd of tech enthusiasts, Sen. Al Franken made some shocking statements that would rattle even the most casual web user. He stated that large corporations have a goal in mind to destroy the Internet as it stands and by doing so, they would gain what amounts to a monopoly on faster connections.

He was speaking about the ongoing debate of net neutrality, a heated topic among politicians surrounding legislation that either allows or denies companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T to impose caps and limits on various parts of the web and opening it up for others.

The main target of the Senator’s speech was Comcast, who is currently in an ongoing dispute surrounding one of Netflix’s primary bandwidth providers, Level 3. In this case, Comcast is attempting to impose high bandwidth rates on the provider to deliver their content to customers. Comcast is citing that the Netflix traffic causes an increase in their customer’s usage and this surge warrants additional fees. Because Netflix is seen as somewhat of a competitor of Comcast, this fee is seen as an unfair business practice.

AT&T made a serious move towards capping and limiting their customer’s usage by imposing new limits on monthly throughput and adding overage charges should their users go over a 150GB or 250GB limit. This new restriction goes live on May 5th, and will impact their entire DSL and U-verse customer base. While this particular kind of step isn’t part of the main net neutrality debate, it does play a role in limiting how users can consume content on the web.

A customer, for example, may not be able to enjoy as much streaming video content over Hulu and Netflix as they could on a truly unlimited plan. This is often seen as a workaround for ISPs to limit the use of these services without actually targeting them directly and potentially violating standing FCC regulations.

Whether you believe Sen. Al Franken or not, there is something happening in the ISP world that doesn’t sit well in the tech community, and despite overwhelming opposition to these changes, large providers are moving forward anyway.

What are your opinions on Sen. Al Franken’s statements? Please comment below.

Source(s):
Politico – Al Franken: ‘They’re coming after the Internet’
The Frugal Geek – AT&T Caps Usage for All Customers
DSLReports.com – AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages
Reflections by Ron Schenone – AT&T to Customers: The All You Can Use Buffet is Closed

AT&T Caps Usage for All Customers

AT&T has decided to do exactly what Time Warner, Comcast, and others have tried in the past only to face an overwhelming customer service backlash. They are going to cap Internet usage to a monthly stipend for their customers. This means that if you use their DSL service, you’re going to have a maximum monthly usage of 150GB and their U-Verse customers will be hit with a slightly less oppressive 250GB cap.

This kind of restriction isn’t often imposed on existing customers. Typically, you’d expect a company like AT&T to give their existing customers a pass until they either move or renegotiate their service packages. When their mobile data plans were capped, existing data users were grandfathered in with their old unlimited service plans even upon renewal. Is this going to change, too?

The biggest problem is among users located in apartments. Most apartment complexes, at least here in Texas, sign exclusives with cable and/or internet service providers giving their residents a reduced rate in exchange for their ability to chose providers. For some heavy users in these situations, this can become a financial nightmare unless they give up their online lifestyles. Watching Hulu, Netflix, and other HD video online may quickly become an activity of the past for them.

For another take on this situation, please check out Rod Schenone’s article. You can also check out this informative article from DSLReports.com.

Comments are not only welcome, but encouraged. What is your take on AT&T capping their user’s bandwidth?

AT&T To Customers: The All You Can Use DSL Buffet Is Closed

The folks at AT&T are about to impose caps for all of their DSL customers and also for their U-Verse customers. What is interesting about the proposal are the limits that are going to be placed on existing customers and the additional charges when they exceed the limits. AT&T has an interesting premise it cites to show that 98% of customers will not be affected since the average AT&T customer uses only 18GB of data per month.

The new AT&T limits will be 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a 250 GB usage cap on all U-Verse users. Notices to all of these AT&T customers will start going out this month and will become effective starting on May 2. But AT&T tells us not to worry, be happy, and accept the limited usage rates since this is the way it is going to be, like it or not.

There are two things that bother me about the data limitation plan being instituted by AT&T. First, I believe that existing customers should be exempt and that the limitations should apply to new customers only. Why is it that large corporations seem to think they can employ or change new features on a whim and that customers are obligated to go along with the new plan? Yes, you can change providers, but that misses the point. When these people signed up, they signed up for unlimited usage. Just because the folks at AT&T were stupid and did not forecast that the system would be abused is their problem, not the problem of the customer.

Second is that this limitation on data will have long-range effects for all of us. If AT&T doesn’t lose a large amount of customers, other providers will also enforce data limits. Depending on how you use you Internet service, this could limit the amount of TV programs or movies you watch on the Internet.

What AT&T has also failed to mention is if the data plan is restricted from unlimited usage, will there be a price reduction? We all know the answer to that question. AT&T will provide less service but will want to keep its pricing the same.

I look at the proposal being made by AT&T this way. Let us say that you go down and purchase a new automobile, SUV, or truck. The company offers a 10 year, 100,000 mile power train warranty. After you buy the vehicle you receive a letter that states that 2% of vehicle owners have abused their vehicles so the company is dropping the warranty to 5 years, 100,000 miles on the power train. I know that I would not be a happy camper.

I personally believe that AT&T has already calculated the cost of a civil suit into the equation and knows it will be cheaper paying consumers a stipend than to continue on with its unlimited plan. All of you who use DSL from AT&T, I feel your pain.

Comments welcome.

Source – Broadband DSL Reports

How to Upgrade Samsung Captivate to Android 2.2 Froyo

Users of the Samsung Captivate, AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S, have been stuck with a somewhat sloppy and terribly buggy Android 2.1 release until recently when AT&T announced that finally the phone will receive the update it was promised last year.

As mentioned previously, user frustrations with purchasing a device on the platform were rooted in massively delayed updates leaving you versions behind the current Android release. Within two months of users finally getting the update, Android 2.4 is set for release in to the wild. Users can only assume an update to 2.3, if it happens at all, will come around the time 2.5 is ready.

In order to receive this update, you need to download Samsung Kies Mini, a smaller and less desktop-looking version of Samsung’s proprietary syncing and update program. At the time this article is written, this utility appears made to work only on Windows machines, though Mac users have reported CrossOver for OS X has worked, allowing them to make the update.

Before you sync the phone and begin the update process, it must be charged to at least 80-90% before the program will allow the update to take place. This is done due to the risk of a dead battery causing the phone to turn in to a useless paperweight.

Once you plug the phone in to the USB cable connected to your machine, unlock the phone and choose “Firmware Update” as the sync option. Kies Mini will then check your phone’s current firmware version and a large button on the lower left quadrant of the window titled “Phone Upgrade” will light up. Simply click it, accept terms and conditions, and begin the update process.

At this time, you have about 5-10 minutes before anything else needs to be done. During the update, the phone’s screen will display various screens including one with a giant yellow warning sign reminding you not to unplug or turn off the phone until the process is complete. Once the Samsung Kies window indicates the update is complete, you’re ready to go.

While the process is mostly non-destructive, it’s important to remember to back up your important photos, videos, and contacts prior to upgrading your phone’s OS. If everything goes exactly as planned, the only action required is the replacement of your shortcuts and widgets. Programs, email, and browser settings retained their configurations after the upgrade.

Helpful Link: Samsung Kies Mini Download

Apple iPad – What Case Protector Do You Use And Why?

I just went on the FedEx Web site and the Apple iPad 1 I bought for my wife is arriving sometime today. That was a fairly quick delivery, since I had just ordered the unit on the 4th of March. So I started looking around for a case to protect the little beast. There is a huge selection of protective cases and stands ranging in price for as low as $4 to about $40 depending on the make and style.

Here is a silicon skin that protects the outer case from dings and scratches. Cost is only $4 but the skin seemed to get very good reviews. Reviews and specifications can be found here. CTCstore Black Wave Premium Crystal TPU Silicone Skin Case for Apple iPad 3G

Another inexpensive protector comes with a stand included. Some of the reviews were not flattering about the case and some users complained that the case was ‘not as pictured.’ Priced at only $7.99, you can see it at this link. Leather Carrying Case Cover/Folio With Built-in Stand for Apple iPad 3G tablet / Wi-Fi model 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (BLACK)

Apple of course makes its own upscale protector at $39 that is linked here.

I continued my search around the Internet and there are a large number of companies that make case protectors, some which appear cheaply made and others that appear to be quality made, but pricey. The Apple iPad I am getting for my wife will be used in the home for the most part. She may travel with it once or twice a year and that’s about it.

I have a laptop case I would most likely use when she travels with the Apple iPad that will provide ample protection for the unit when getting on and off airplane flights.

With this in mind I was leaning towards the case protector made of silicon when she uses the iPad at home.

What do you think?

Recommendations are welcome.

Apple iPad 2 Launch Recap

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was on stage today introducing a completely new design of the iPad — the iPad 2. As he said in his statement this morning, this is not a tweaked or slightly improved device: this is something new.

The event was booming with Steve Jobs boasting about the 2010 iPad success, selling nearly 15 million iPads in the first year of sales.

Finally, something us iPad owners have asked for since iOS4 came out, users can now set the iPad 2 to use the button on the side to lock the rotation or mute the device.

One surprising turn of events is the number of colors available. Along with a black version, it will also come in white, with the 3G version available on Verizon and AT&T from day one. Launch day is March 11 in the US, March 25 everywhere else.

The iPad will run on iOS 4.3 and features improved AirPlay settings, which let you share media between the iPad and other devices. As always, iTunes sharing is built-in when you are on the same network as your computer.

More highlights from Steve Jobs:

  • 33% thinner than the first iPad, 8.8mm thick, down from 13.4 mm.
  • Comes in both black and white.
  • Dual-core processor — that’s twice as fast as the first.
  • Graphics are nine times faster.
  • Both front and rear-facing cameras.
  • Six different versions: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB that come with and without 3G support.
  • Same battery life as the original iPad.
  • HDMI compatible

[Thanks to Macworld for image]

How to Consider Dropping Your Data Plan

The idea of having instant access to the web from anywhere at any time has gone from being a luxury affordable by only the wealthy to a necessity to the modern person. To some, having constant and uninterrupted coverage is vital to their business and having the premium coverage makes a good investment. For others, it’s a handy plus but you might be surprised to find just how easy it is to get by without it.

By day, I work in an environment requiring me to be on my toes and ready to schedule guests, check the web for information, and research. Having the ability to use the web from wherever I might be is a major help. Taking the move away from paying a premium for 3G or 4G coverage took some thought.

Here’s a couple things to consider when determining if a life without constant 3G coverage will work for you:

Do you spend most of your time in a location with accessible WiFi connections?
Believe it or not, you probably do and just don’t know it. Chances are you have an alternative solution already worked out for home and work. You might be using an inexpensive or included wireless router with your primary connection at home. Your workplace may have its own WiFi set up for employees and guests especially if you work in a place that would require you to be on the web most of the time.

Many establishments made with the lunch crowd in mind offer free WiFi to their customers. Passwords are given by request or with a small fee. If they have an open access point, remember that you have absolutely zero security. Even with a protected WiFi connection, remember that you’re only protected from people that don’t have the password to the access point. This  is especially important to consider when you’re connected at a popular coffee shop.

Do you really need to be connected while driving from point A to point B?
This is the question so many people lured in by the brilliant glow of the iPhone overlook when making their purchase decision. Forgetting that the iPod Touch does pretty much everything the iPhone can do minus the phone calls, we willingly sign two-year contracts requiring us to pay an extra $30-60 bucks a month for the benefit of staying connected during our commute.

GPS is a major factor a lot of people consider when choosing the constant connectivity. Right now, a dedicated GPS device with no monthly fee can be purchased for as little as $80.00 and will probably work better than the one built in to the phone. They also typically come with a mount and screen that is less distracting to drivers while allowing them an easier view of the data.

3G and 4G coverage no matter where you go is a brilliant idea and one that a lot of people have based their lifestyles and careers around. Dropping it from your phone plan may not always be an option (iPhone), but where an old-school phone might satisfy your communication needs, an iPod Touch, iPad, or other PDA / tablet device might suit your needs just fine without the solid punch to the pocketbook.

Reader Question – What Is The Best Straight Talk Phone?

I received a question from reader ReelNauti, who asked:

Ron,
In your opinion, what is the best Straight Talk phone out there?

I gave the question some thought and I decided to break down my answer into two parts. Straight Talk offers services from both AT&T and Verizon. Since the phones available work only with one of the services and not both, this needs to be taken into consideration before buying a Straight Talk phone. The second consideration is which one of the services works best where you live and work. If you haven’t used AT&T or Verizon before, I would ask your family, friends, and co-workers which service they use and how they like the average signal strength in your area. I would also want to know if they experience dropped calls and, more important, how often are the calls dropped.

Once you have decided which service works best where you live or work, you can now take a look at the phones that Straight Talk offers.

For the Verizon service I personally like the Samsung R355C because I find it easy to text with. Others state that they enjoy using the Samsung R451C with the hidden keyboard. My neighbor has the LG 220C that he uses just for phone calls, since he does not send text messages. He like the flip design that he can keep in his pocket and the keys don’t get pressed accidentally.

For the AT&T service you have two smartphone options. Either the Nokia E71 Smart Phone or the Nokia 6790 Smart Phone. Be aware that both of these phones require the $45 unlimited plans.

So how do I answer the question posed by reader ReelNauti?

First, talk to those who use either AT&T and Verizon where you live. Second, I recommend going to your local Walmart and taking a look at the phones offered by Straight Talk.  See which phone, for the service you wish to use, meets your needs. Third, which phone feels good in your hand? This, to me, is very important since, if the phone doesn’t feel right in your hand, you will be disappointed no matter what others say.

Comments welcome.

Source – Straight Talk

Source – Walmart