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momof3
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Blackberry for college?
      #32702 - 02/19/09 02:10 PM

I am cluelss to this new PDA thing and have searched for help. IO hope you can help me.
My son will be leaving to go to college. He is an athlete. He is interested in a phone that also has a calendar in it to keep track of all his sports schedules as well as something for email. We looked into the Iphone but you have to pay a monthly fee to have access to use it. We are on a tight budget and can't afford the monthly fee. He found a phone called the Blackberry Bold that has internet capabilities if you are in a "hot spot". He said that many areas on campus have places where you can link up.
So I was wondering if it is worth paying the $300 for this phone if it will be a good choice for him in school. I, too, am in a place where I am considering changing from a paper calendar to something with a calendar in it. I have three kids and am always having to go home and check the calendar to see if i am missing a sport date or a practice. I have tried paper planners but they are bulky and I never seem to have them when I need them.
Please help me?!


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LisaGModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: momof3]
      #32706 - 02/19/09 08:23 PM

The Bold is a wonderful high end phone. It's one of AT&T's most expensive, so you might want to also consider the BlackBerry Curve 8320, which also does email, has a calendar and WiFi for HotSpots (your son won't thank me for telling you this though). The drawback with BlackBerry phones is that their OS is built around that cellular data connection you're trying to avoid, so some services won't work on the phone. But the WiFi web browser and voice will certainly work.

The other challenge with getting a smartphone is that the dealer will try very hard to sell you a data plan with the phone. so you'll have to insist you don't want one (the BlackBerry data plan costs as much as the iPhone plan but isn't mandatory). Most rebates on smartphones do require a data plan for the first 3 months of the contract, so don't count on getting one.

Other smartphones with WiFi, email, calendar and full keyboards include the Samsung BlackJack II and Samsung Epix. These run Windows Mobile and work fine without a data plan (be sure to have your son turn off cellular data on the phone to avoid accidental charges). Both phones are relatively reasonable, especially the BlackJack II.

http://www.mobiletechreview.com/phones/Samsung-BlackJack-II.htm

http://www.mobiletechreview.com/phones/Samsung-Epix.htm


For you the choice is wider since it sounds like you don't need WiFi (Hotspots), just the calendar. Most phones have a calendar these days, and if you choose on with a QWERTY keyboard, entering appointments is fairly painless.

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Jacob_SpindelModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: momof3]
      #32707 - 02/19/09 08:30 PM

Welcome to MTR, momof3.

All cell phones have a monthly fee (except for prepaid phones, but you still have to add money to those regularly). All Blackberries are cell phones, but there are indeed many other types of devices with WiFi, which can access the Internet when they are in a hotspot.

In fact, there is an almost limitless selection available of different products that include WiFi - for example, the Archos 7 (which we recently reviewed), laptop computers, netbooks, HP iPaqs, and even the Sony PSP, to name a few. One product you might be interested in is the iPod touch, which is basically an iPhone without the phone. It doesn't require any monthly fees and it does have WiFi, so it can access e-mail when it's in a hotspot. It has a calendar you can sync with your computer as well, although its calendar is not as feature-packed as the calendars on some devices targeted more specifically toward organization and productivity (like the iPaqs).

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momof3
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: Jacob_Spindel]
      #32708 - 02/19/09 09:16 PM

so.. I went to the ATT store and they DID say that no matter which phone I buy Blackberry or Iphone, both need to have a data package which is $30.00 a month. So I guess this is not an option for our famaily. My cheap phone has a calendar in it, but it is extremely painful to use. I normally write down notes on my HAND and then enter them in my calendar at home when I get home. Right now I have three notes written on my palm of my hand. I know it's stupid, but I don't have another option. I think the Iphone is the easiest to use for a mom, but is there a way to get the service for less than $30 a month? That would be $60.00 for both my son and I per month ON TOP of the other charges we are already paying with ATT for cell phone and home phone.

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Jacob_SpindelModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: momof3]
      #32716 - 02/20/09 09:10 AM

Well, you could get the iPod touch instead of an iPhone, but if you want an iPhone with a cheaper data plan, the only option is to find the older iPhone 2G (EDGE) model, which you could get from eBay or other sources. Its (slooooow) data plan is $20/month.

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LisaGModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: Jacob_Spindel]
      #32718 - 02/20/09 10:09 AM

Feature phone data plans are $15/month and are completely optional- that includes QWERTY phones like the Pantech Matrix. Those might work for you, momof3. The keyboard makes it much easier to enter calendar events and etc.

While the BlackBerry is a special case in terms of working best only when there's a data plan attached, you might try another dealer who won't pressure you into a data plan for a Windows Mobile phone like the BlackJack II, Epix and Pantech Matrix Pro (comes out next week). Generally AT&T corporate stores are less pushy than those dealers not owned by AT&T. If your son already has AT&T service and a SIM card, the other option is to not get the phone through AT&T at all, but rather pick up a used phone and simply insert his SIM into it (thus no plan change required).

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momof3
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: Jacob_Spindel]
      #32719 - 02/20/09 10:14 AM

Thank you for the information. I can see that you are not happy with the older version, that is runs slower. So the difference of $10.00 is worth paying.
While at the ATT store I was able to test out the Iphone and it seemed really easy to use. Do you feel for a "Mom" this is a good phone? As I tried it out,it seemed very easy to use. There was a cool feature for writing notes, this means I can jot down prices of things and keep track in my phone versus separate slips of paper in my purse. It also had a neat map feature that showed you where something was, for instance the closest bank etc. I can't tell you how many times I have driven to a sport event and had to drive around an unfamiliar area looking for a grocery store when a parent has forgotten to bring snack for the kids. That seems like a wonderful feature.
Does ATT give you a discount on the $30.00 if you already are an ATT customer? we have both home and cell with them.
Do you feel the Blackberry is easier or the Iphone for a "non-business person"(just a mom) to use?


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momof3
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: momof3]
      #32720 - 02/20/09 10:18 AM

Thankyou Lisa G I just missed your message, I will have to look at the other phone you mentioned..Pantech. I have never heard of it. But then again I am really new to this. You mentioned $15.00 a month, what service is that with?
Thankyou for your help.


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Jacob_SpindelModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: momof3]
      #32723 - 02/20/09 12:05 PM

You can probably tell that I love my iPhone, and if you find it easy to use, it sounds like a good idea to me. However, I don't want to bias you unfairly, since there certainly are some people who like other types of phones better. I actually don't have much personal experience with Blackberry phones myself.

The $15/month plan is a data plan that is only available for some specific phone models (feature phones, which are generally less sophisticated than an iPhone or Blackberry).

With the way phone subsidies work, unfortunately being an existing customer can sometimes make the price go UP (at least for the phone itself), but I'm not aware of any discounts offered to existing users. Usually, once a cell phone company has you locked in with a contract, they may stop caring about impressing or satisfying you.

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LisaGModerator
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: Jacob_Spindel]
      #32727 - 02/20/09 09:03 PM

All regular (non-smartphones) qualify for the $15/month AT&T data plan. That gets you Internet (web and email) access via AT&T's data network. It also gets you their streaming video service and data services for that cool Google maps application you discovered on the iPhone. But you need not take any data plan with feature phones, so you'd just pay for your monthly minutes and a text message plan if you wanted one.

Certainly the iPhone is probably the easiest smartphone to learn on the planet! Easier than a BlackBerry and lots of fun. Not to mention useful things like maps, web and email. But I was trying to save you from that $30/month since you mentioned it exceeded your budget.

AT&T's feature phones with full QWERTY keyboards include:
Pantech Slate
Pantech Matrix
Samsung Propel
Quickfire

These require no data plan at all, and if you do want one, it's $15/month. None are as much fun as the iPhone though, and they don't sync easily with a computer (smartphones are better if you decide you'd like to sync with the computer).

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Lisa Gade
Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview


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okgogogobattery
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Reged: 03/05/09
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Re: Blackberry for college? [Re: LisaG]
      #32811 - 03/05/09 03:32 AM

Thanks for your information.

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