Technology… our friend?

Technology… our friend?

Before leaving for Europe, I gave a lot of thought to my technology choices.  In particular, I was considering what to do about my cell phone issue.  Whilst I lived in Florida, I was using T-Mobile as my cellular service.  They had 4G service, great coverage and a good selection of phones.  However, there is no T-Mobile in Vermont and coverage is spotty.  Due, I am sure, to the increase in cell phone users and the proliferation of data-enabled phones, T-Mobile no longer offers unlimited data while you are roaming.  This means that at a certain time each month, my phone stops transmitting emails for me and does not allow me to get online.  This fact was not received well by me.

Big ship and big sky

The one really great thing about T-Mobile, however, is that they are the only cellular network that lets you send and receive calls and texts over WiFi.  This is a fact I had taken for granted until I began researching other cellular providers.  I spend many hours a day at home in Vermont in the middle of East Buddha with no cell signal in sight.  If I switched to a local cell carrier, I would have to rely on a signal booster.  This does not seem so bad considering there are already signal boosters in my house for the two most popular local carriers, but the whole idea of being able to make calls over WiFi seems so logical to me that I am peeved by the need for the booster.  I guess that is just me being silly.

The more I thought about the fact that I am home a lot of the time, the more I wondered whether I really needed a “smart” phone.  The other issue is that phones are now mass-produced so quickly and cheaply that their expected life span is nary more than a year.  I am the type of person who likes to search for the highest quality item to buy so that it won’t constantly need replacing, but with all the software updates and so on, it’s really hard to keep a smart phone for more than a year.

Before my current phone, I had previously always owned Blackberries.  However, eventually their software updates crippled the phone I had just purchased the year before, so I went for an Android.  What I did not know at the time was that there was a big difference in the services you could get when traveling abroad with your phone.  With a Blackberry, you could pay $30 for one month of unlimited international data service.  But with any other cell phone, you had to pay for exactly the services you used, starting at $30 per mb of data!  So, now I’m on a trip with no data, sending only what texts are necessary at 50 cents a pop.  Very uncool.

However… I have learned something on this trip about my need for data:  I am doing just fine without it.  In fact, without the constant reliance on my phone, I find I’m having more fun and being more adventurous.  I’m speaking to more people.  I’m exploring more.  I’m using my internal navigational skills.  I’m so happy without my data that I’ve definitely decided that when I return from my trip I’m going to buy a pay-as-you-go dumb phone and get a 7″ WiFi tablet that I can carry in my purse for when I have access to WiFi.  (I’m waiting to see what the final details are going to be on the HTC Flyer 2.)  When I’m home or on WiFi, I can write down details I might need for an outing and bring them with me.

This way, I won’t have to buy another expensive phone every year.  Oh, and did I happen to mention I will also save around $90 a month?  Yeah, that’s pretty sweet, too.

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