I've been showing off my new mobile phone lately. It fits in my pocket and meets my needs. I had to search a while to find one and was able to activate it on my own, at home.
No, it's not the Apple iPhone, which is priced at $500 or $600. It's a Motorola C139, and it set me back less than $20, including tax. I love it.
I'm hoping to get my hands on an iPhone in the near future, and have watched with amazement the Second Coming-like frenzy that accompanied the first sales. I'll share my take on the pocket computer, music player, camera, calendar and oh, yes, telephone, in a future column.
Going from the iPhone to my phone, flash back a few weeks to a long weekend trip I took with my sons Lee and Ben to a family reunion in Tucson, Ariz. Less than an hour after landing, while roaming the aisles of an unfamiliar grocery store, I discovered my Treo had a problem. The device was acting as if it were connected to my computer, constantly looking to synchronize files.
I couldn't make a call, check my calendar or contact list. All I could do was yank out the battery and try to do a "soft" reset of the unit.
Nothing worked. I was without my phone and all its ancillary functions for the entire weekend.
At first I felt lost. I couldn't glance at the screen to see the latest e-mails arriving in my in-boxes. I couldn't call anyone. I couldn't receive any calls. After a few hours, I liked the change -- or was it freedom?
Anyone who needed to reach me called Lee or Ben and asked for me. This is an unknown benefit of the family plan; it works as long as your family is with you.
When I returned to town the following Monday, I secured the promise of a replacement Treo from AT&T. But the new phone wouldn't be in my hands for at least a couple days.
I needed my mobile phone for work purposes and sought a simple solution.
The folks at the AT&T store were ready to sell me a bottom-of-the line model, but without activating a new account or adding another number to my plan, it would set me back nearly $190. I wanted a cheaper alternative, and was pulled aside by a supervisor at the store.
She whispered to me that I should head to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy a "Go Phone." I could slip the subscriber identity module (SIM) card from my disabled Treo into the Go Phone and I'd be up and running. She was right. I had a phone again.
The phone doesn't do e-mail, but does do text messaging. And, I can make calls.
I keep it charged and ready, because I never know when I'll want to simplify (get away from e-mail). Moving my SIM card takes seconds, and I'm ready to roll.
Know that I won't be shelling out five or six big ones anytime soon for the first version of Apple's fancy new device. I'm perfectly happy with my trusty Treo and my tiny new Motorola C139.
Heck, I could buy 30 of them.
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