iPad/iPhone: “I don’t need it.”

I have had the same cell phone number through the same prepaid call plan since 2000.

Yes. That’s twelve years. The only reason I’m with AT&T is because I was originally with Southwestern Bell in 2000. Then SW Bell became Cingular. So I instantly became a Cingular customer. Then Cingular became AT&T Wireless, and here I am — a customer of a communications carrier who (until recently) had monopolized the Apple iPhone market.

And yet I haven’t upgraded yet. Even better — my little workhorse of a prepaid cell phone isn’t even a smartphone.

Briefly — when, last week, I was hunched next to the downstairs women’s restroom during a tornado warning while at work, seeing my fellow co-workers work their Androids and iPhones like crazy, tracking the tornadoes around us — briefly I thought, “Hmmm. Smartphones are nice to have.”

But then the storm passed, I returned home, and that “nice to have” never did turn into “need to have.”

What I mostly see folks — my coworkers, my students, and the folks I see waiting in checkout lines — with smartphones do is check on apps, surf the web, or even entertain themselves with streaming media and interactive games. Occasionally I’ll see professional looking people use the productivity tools — calendar, to-do lists, alerts — but not so much. Mostly it seems to be Facebook, YouTube, and games like Angry Birds and Words with Friends.

Let’s not even start with the photographer types who ❤ Instagram.

That is, they’re very much like my brother, who’s always been an early adopter of all things smartphone, tablet, and Apple. So, this past Sunday, when my brother asked if I was going to upgrade my cheap non-smart cell phone with an iPhone or get an iPad, he gave me a look as if I grew a tentacle out of my ear when I said, “No. I don’t need it.”

I sound like an old fart when I say that I don’t want an omnibus device that does everything. I want my cell phone primarily for its original function, as a mobile phone that also texts. Maintaining a healthy battery life is easy when the cell phone is that “dumb” — and I want that battery life fat and healthy just in case the kiddo’s preschool calls or a literary agent tries to talk to me or I have to call 911 (knock on wood).

As for web-surfing, it’s enough of a time-suck for me when I’m at the work desktop or the home laptop that having a little portable Time Sucker in my pocket would be too much an Eve’s apple for me. That’s why my tiny, ultraportable laptop (it’s an older model Sony Vaio — 11.6″ screen with built in DVD-RW and wireless card) has been and still is perfect for my needs. Just portable enough for me to tote around, but not so easily a time-suck since I need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot for it. (Fortunately, more and more public places have ’em for free — like McDonald’s!)

Of course, the main important feature I desire from any portable, non-phone techy device is this: a keyboard so that I can write, and MS Office and Adobe Acrobat so that I can save those manuscript docs in whatever format agents, publishers, and POD publishers want them to be. Tablets — for all of their cool touch screen yummy goodness — can’t do that, or at least, can’t do that that easily.

Even my brother conceded that the iPad isn’t the right tech tool for a writer on the go. A laptop is.

So that’s why 1) I bought a large LCD monitor to hook up the laptop when at home, 2) increased the RAM by putting in a larger RAM stick, and 3) reclaimed use of the dead-space that was the PCMCIA slot by finding a USB 2.0 PC card that instantly doubles the number of USB ports on my six-year old laptop.

To quote Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s ALIVE!”

However, I’m no Luddite. I’m waffling whether to get a USB 2.0 modem for the laptop, just in those rare instances when wi-fi is unavailable but 3G or 4G cell phone signal is (like in a blackout). But that mandatory $50/month data plan does give me pause: Do I really need this right now? So far, the answer in my head is “Not right now.”

Not right now. But — eventually — I’ll move from the “dumb” cell phone to a smartphone, to budgeting not only talk and text costs but also mobile data plans. But knowing my frugal, bare-bones consumer nature, that smartphone will likely be another prepaid model, with the “pay-as-I-go” costs of my current phone’s talk and text. It’s just budgeting in that monthly data plan is like a sour note in my financial orchestrations. If I want to tether the dang thing to my laptop, I’ll have to go with the “Cadillac” of data plans.  KA-CHING!

Perhaps, when the kiddo’s aged out of preschool (when I don’t have to pay nearly $600/month) and starts public school (my local taxes at work!), then I may change my tune.


About lizardqueen

If single-mothering were a paid job, I'd be rich. However, it doesn't, so I write (which doesn't pay the bills) and teach (which does). I'm overly-educated in the liberal arts, but that doesn't hinder my ability to be pragmatic and realistic. YAY.
This entry was posted in AVOCATIONS, Creative Writing, Personal Wealth, Pop Culture, QUIRKS, The Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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