Buying a Mobile Phone from Amazon

I had been mulling over a solution to carrying around both a Palm and a mobile phone to deal with my day to day. After returning from vaction, my phone was ripped off, so the pressure was on to try to find a converged replacement. After trying out the Treo 650 and Blackberry 7100, I decided against both of them and started to zero in on the Nokia 6682. Problem is, the 6682 isn’t readily available, but supposed to be released ‘any day now’ by Cingular.

After two weeks without a phone, I finally made up my mind to stop waiting for the Nokia 6682 to be available from Cingular and to just get the Nokia 6620 instead and ‘upgrade’ to the 6682 when and if it becomes available.

Searching high and low around the area quickly led to the conclusion that none of the Cingular stores around here have a very complete selection of phones and definately not the more feature rich units. I noticed on Amazon that they had the phone available and with the two rebates offered, I essentially made $25USD on the purchase of the phone. I ordered with Amazon and ponied up for the next day delivery as the item was listed on their site as ‘shipping within 24 hours’. The next day I get, not a delivery notice from Amazon, but an email telling me that there is a delay in processing my order. It turns out that it can take up to 48 hours for Amazon/Cingular to do the credit check — Amazon won’t ship until Cingular says your credit is good. So three days later my phone ships. The amazing thing was that it shipped at 3AM and I recieved it later that same day.

Activating the phone was another adventure which required no fewer than 8 phone calls to Amazon and Cingular to get the phone activated, the correct calling plan options established, voicemail initialized, etc. In spite of all of the calls required, Amazon and Cingular did an excellent job of quickly and politely dealing with each and every issue including staying on the phone with me as I went through the various activation steps. At one point, I was on the phone so long that my cordless phone’s battery died with no warning. About 30 minutes later the Cingular rep called me back to make sure that everything had been activated properly. Outstanding!

Since then I have been trying to find the time to familiarize myself with the phones features and software (and there are quite a few of them). More on that later.

Newton, Palm and PSP

As an Apple Newton user from back in the day I was always amazed at the amount of sniping over the Newton when there was no clear, better alternative at the time. I wasn’t even a big Apple fan, but could recognize that the Newton provided the functionality that I wanted. Granted the much derided handwriting recognition took a bit of ‘training’ for the Newt to become more consistent, but for me that was time well spent. Within a few months, I could take meeting notes directly on the Newt with something close to 100% recognition. The ability to draw on the screen along with the text was handy as techies are famous for their napkin-back design sketches.

Supposedly, one of the cures for the ‘poor’ Newton recognition was to use an add in product called Grafitti. This was met with a great deal of hue and cry as the Apple bashers when on about ‘having to learn a new way of writing’ and ‘it should recognize my handwritting — I shouldn’t have to change’. That was all well and good until the first Palm came out and required the use of Graffiti, then suddenly the (not-from-Apple) Palm product was proclaimed the best thing since fish grew legs. Another popular criticism at the time was the the Newton was ‘the wrong form factor’ and that Palm had it all right. I disagree, and feel a bit vidicated with the release of the Sony Playstation Portable (which has nearly the same form factor as the final Newton) and it being hailed as the ‘perfect size’ for a portable unit. Hell, the Newton even had many of the same capabilities, albeit with a monochrome screen.

Around four years ago, I finally gave up and bought a Palm device (m505) to be able to synch up my growing and changing Outlook calendar and not have to carry around marked up printouts of my calendar. I find Graffiti to be a pain, but have forced myself to bend to its requirements. Then I bought a Tungsten T5 because I very much needed the extra storage and wanted to have some wi-fi capability only to find that some genius at Palm had ‘improved’ the handwriting recognition by changing it. Now I find myself writing ‘L’ when I want an ‘I’ and getting some random character when I try to do the old stroke for a ‘T’. Sigh. I just wish that Palm would come out with a patch to keep the T5 from randomly rebooting, locking up and crashing after synching.

In the end, I think that I am going to start exploring a Symbian OS based device, probably a Nokia smart phone. The most promising device (that I have found in my limited research) is the (as yet unreleased in the USA) Nokia 6682.