Thursday, July 06, 2006

Technology Schmecknology 2: Plug and Play vs. Pay to Plug

If you look back at the archives you will recall that last November 30 we had a Technology Schmecknology column about my misadventures involving the purchase of a new digital camera. I think I missed my calling to be a consumer electronics reviewer... but the thing about these electronics reviews is.. the reviewers really aren't that passionate about the product unless they spend their own money to purchase the reviewed item. Therefore I can’t do these columns too frequently, since I’m not exactly Mr. Rich Man.. although I am working on my 2nd million... I gave up on the 1st!

Last weekend I bought Trophy Wife a GPS system and I got myself a snazzy new Samsung SGH-d807 cell phone at the Cingular store. (And we welcome those frustrated SGH-d807 owners who can't figure out the mp3 player who googled their way over here today!) Trophy Wife bought the Tom Tom..(but calls the traffic service the Tom Note which is the name of the WOR Radio traffic reporter)... it was a good deal... she opened the box.... turned on the power button and she was good to go!

Then there is the adventures of my cell phone!

I was a late bloomer to the cell phone craze... holding out till the night in late 1999 when I was driving on a one way street in Edison and saw a motorcycle zipping up the wrong way.... Moments later it flipped over and tossed the rider several yards into the road.. Of course I had no cell phone... so I drove to the next intersection and sat in the middle of the road blocking traffic (maybe not the smartest idea) until a car came by with a cell phone. We called 911 and the police came. As far as I know the driver was not seriously injured.. but in an interesting twist they pulled the helmet off to show that it was a woman with long blonde hair!! Va Va voom.. I was gonna go to her and sing "I can be your hero baby" by Enrique Iglesias.. but the song had not been written yet!! I called the hospital later that night and they said the woman was ok.. but that was all the info they were allowed to give out.

That night I decided it was time to buy a cell phone. There was a cell phone store nearby in Rahway that was always advertising free phones so off I went to buy a free motorola flip phone with a one year OmniPoint (which became VoiceStream and then T-Mobile) contract. Every year I waited till the anniversary date and proceeded to the store and bought a new free phone. That cell phone store expanded considerably from '99 until a few years ago. The last time I saw an ad they were down to 2 stores, but I haven’t seen one of their ads in quite some time, so I don’t know if they got swallowed up by the big cell phone company stores in the malls.

I never did care about the fancy shmancy phones and some of the ultra ultra orthodox rabbis have told their peeps to use only the "kosher" phones.. phones that are just phones and have no extras like texting and internet which might corrupt the young minds if they go online and see boobies or tushies. They might be right though.. I saw a cell phone that had a video of midget porn… Now I know what the mp stands for in mp3... Midget porn!

Then in 2004... I got this newfangled phone from AT and T Wireless (now Cingular)... It was the coolest phone I ever saw! It had a slider that opened up to a QWERTY keyboard.. and it even had an FM Radio.. how cool! But…it only worked for one day! I went back to the broker’s store but he couldn’t help me.. it was an ATT Wireless problem!! ATT Wireless had amazingly already discontinued the sale of my defective phone… but they had those popular nokia phones with bowling.. but they were out of 'em so they offered me a different one. They sent that phone.. it was that phone with the teeny buttons that was being used in the promotions for American Idol to get the little pishers to call in to vote.. but it was unusable and was a piece of crap! I called ATT Wireless again.. raised some hell.. and amazingly the Nokia phone was no longer out of stock.

I used that phone till Super Bowl Sunday 2005.. when Trophy Wife (who always had a cingular phone) went with me to the Cingular Store and we purchased his and hers Sony Erricson phones. It was the first time I ever paid for a phone!! I used the phone until last weekend and it was ok except the sony erricsons have problems with the batteries not staying firmly in place which causes the phone to shut off.

So I decided to spring for a phone with an mp3 player. I bought a PNY mp3 player from Tiger Direct recently with 256 mb for 36 bucks to use as my summer mp3 at the pool and the beach. It works fine.. but it goes through a triple a battery quite quickly. I decided the phone would be the post summer mp3 player. I was all set to buy a Motorola Sliver.. I had done all the research but I think the salesmen are paid to plug the new Samsung … because he convinced me to buy that because it costs less money plus it has more mp3 memory space! Of course I had to buy a memory card/chip too to store aforementioned music and podcasts.

I went home and while Trophy Wife fiddled with her Tom Tom to get directions to any possible place to drive to... I opened my cell phone box and realized... there were no headphones! How was I gonna listen to my mp3 player without headphones?? That’s like selling a toilet without a flusher!! I went on ebay late that night and found a guy selling a bunch of tcochkes really cheap so I bid and won. I was happy till the next morning when I went online and realized why you shouldn’t ebay late at night... I bought the wrong headphones.. But I got the right car charger!!!

I called Samsung and they said the headphones should have been included... but as it turns out Cingular removes them from the package so they can sell 'em separately. Much to my chagrin, Samsung didn’t have any for sale.. and the Cingular stores didn’t have them since they are so new. Well along came T Mobile to the rescue.. they had the headphones from the prior generation Samsung phone which actually fit this one.. so now I could listen to my tunes and podcasts!

However.. I had my chip but how do you get the chip in the computer?? Hmmm... Back I went to the store. this time to Office Max to buy the usb converter.. Thankfully that only cost me a measly 10 bucks. It also took time to familiarize myself with the chip and how it snaps into the phone and into the sleeve for the usb converter. If you buy the phone, plan to dedicate an hour to figuring out how to make this work.

I then took my PNY mp3 and copied all of the music into my computer and then copied them back into the new cellphone. Woo hoo.. I was so excited.. I could now play my music.. I went to the mp3 player but it was telling me that there were no files stored! And every time I tried to play the music.. nothing!

I went back to the Cingular store on Monday (and by the way I just learned never to write a blog column as an email from my laptop because I just inadvertently deleted everything from the ATT Wireless 2004 defective phone up to this paragraph!) and the salesman pointed out the music wasn’t playing because it was in wma format and it had to be converted to mp3 format! Luckily I went online and found a website called switch which allowed me to download a program that converted all my music from wma to mp3. I again loaded it into the phone.. and now I could play the song if I highlighted it in the memory card.. but not through the mp3.. Also any file with a title with more than 16 or 18 characters wouldn‘t play.. So... back to the drawing board... I shortened the offending titles.. but it still didn’t work. It turns out it will only work if the music is in a file called "music"... Then and only then... the mp3 will allow you to transfer the file from memory to mp3!

Well it took 4 days but I finally have it working.. I haven’t tried the camera or video storage yet.. but one thing at a time. Here is a brief recap of what you need to do if you buy this phone!

1. Don’t expect all the stuff you need to be in the box.
2. Buy the memory chip, the usb converter and the headphones... they wont be in the box...
3. Convert all of your files from wma into mp3 format. Check out the switch website to get the program for this.
4. Put all of the music in.. but shorten the long titles.. No Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band!
5. Transfer it into the file called "Music"
6. Go to the mp3 player and follow the prompts to import the music from the file into the mp3 player.
7. Thank me for saving you 4 days of aggravation!

In retrospect, the purchase of the tom tom and this phone remind me of those Apple commercials where they have a cool young hipster playing a Mac and a square geeky guy as the PC. They have a spot where the 2 guys are about to come out of the box and the Apple jumps right out and gets cooking while the pc sits there and sadly remarks all the steps that need to be done before he is ready to function. It might be a tongue in cheek ad for Apple.. But in reality I hear that the sliver with its built in I-pod… works instantly!

1 comment:

Dangerspouse said...

1. Whenever I read spots for Tom Tom (and I do so rather frequently) the jock almost invariably has me do my lockout "...and I'm TomTom Note on WXYZ". And each time they think it's the most hilarious, most original bit ever. Except WOR, which is why I like being on them so much. Well...that and the great remotes they send me to (woo hoo, I got to hang with Tyler Florence, who does their mid-day food show, and get a free meal at Bobby Vans!).

2. I am a complete Luddite about all things technological. After reading your adventures in GadgetLand, I have even MORE sympathy for Ted Kozynski.

3. C'monnnnnnn! Can't I bring a nice cheese platter and some homemade Kahlua With White Chocolate Chunks ice cream to the BBQ? God would understand.....