Monday, July 20, 2009

Test drive wireless phones before buying

cell phone As many of you know, the market for wireless devices and phones has become saturated (there are many models and options now available), it has become increasingly important to be able to test and get a real feel of the phones you are interested in before purchasing. The large number of devices and services available can be overwhelming at times.  Thus its important to take your time and research before selecting a device.

While a device may look great online, it may not be as appealing when you set your own eyes and hands on it in person.
The opposite can be said - some devices are not so well displayed online but are actually great in person.

I recently went to Best Buy to run a small shopping errand, and out of curiosity, I checked on the latest models of wireless phones – Wow! there is a large number of devices available compared to 5 years ago! I took a good 15 minutes to take a look at some of the latest models.

While I won't name any specific models - some of my findings were:

- Some of the new phones look like they were designed for tweens and teenagers - not worthy of consideration for working adults. They should list the recommended ages on each device.

- Secondly I was surprised how bad some of the physical keyboards were. People still need to type messages and emails.
Note to manufacturers: don't make the keyboards any smaller. A combination of keyboard and touch screen is probably what most consumers want.

- Thirdly, you need to consider the operating system of each phone, and need to determine what kind of system you prefer and want (see below).

- Lastly, make it worthwhile to find store(s) in  your area that have the actual devices on display that you can examine before buying online.

Popular Phone Operating Systems
Some of the popular operating systems are (in no particular order)

- iPhone (Apple)
- Rim / Blackberry
- Windows Mobile (Microsoft)
- Nokia
- Android
- Other: Carrier specific

I suggest reading two previous previous blog postings highlighting some recommendations on how to select your next wireless phone / device.

1. “Wireless Devices: Phone Research and Shopping

2. “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Selecting Your Next Smart Phone / Wireless Device

As a reader, share with others what have you done or considered when making a decision in selecting a replacement or new wireless device?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Contact Numbers and Email Addresses to the 4th Power


In these days, it seems many of us are getting multiple assigned device numbers and email addresses - how can one possibly memorize them all?

Yet this all seems ironic given that many deaf and hard of hearing consumers may not utilize voice services, and actually end up having more phone numbers than hearing consumers.  This article will illustrate some examples of what has become common and tips on how to manage to share your contact information with others.

While the various relay services, communication devices, and various touch points (VP, VRS, email and wireless devices), are a blessing in disguise, we seem to have more numbers and email addresses for each person than ever before.

For arguments sake – below is an illustration of an example of what a family of four usually has to keep track of:

- Local 10 digit number
- VP Device number(s)
- Toll free number
- Blackberry SMS number
- Fax (While its not relay related, its another number to track)
* Multiply the count of numbers by two if you have a working spouse

- Landline or Other VOIP (broadband phone service) number
- VP assigned number some may have more than one VP device (I.e. VP-200, Z-340, PC based, etc).
- My own toll free number
- Spouses toll free number
- My wireless device SMS number
- Spouses device SMS number
- Teens wireless device SMS number(s) 
* Multiply by the number of wireless phones in the household

As the above illustrates, for work and in a family of four, there are about 12 different numbers to use and to keep track of.
Why I say "about" - because new technologies are forthcoming and changing all the time -thus new numbers will come and go.

Multiple Email Addresses
Now about multiple email addresses - no doubt many of us have more than one email address as well. We have them for various reasons – such as for work, home and wireless devices.

- Work email
- Home primary email
- Push email provider (for wireless device) (I.e. MobileMe, Mail2web, Fusemail, Gmail, Hotmail, etc).
- Spouses primary email
- Spouses push email provider (for wireless device)
- Kids primary email addresses
- Kids wireless phone email addresses

Add them up, that's a minimum of 7 email accounts for a family of four. Image the same with your friends – dealing with multiple email addresses and numbers.

What to do?
Only give out contact numbers and email addresses on an as need to know basis. There is no need to share all numbers and email addresses with everyone, you should selectively give your email/number to your contacts to prevent confusion.

For example, for your immediate family, share the primary contact points with them. 
For your friends and distant others, you may have a different set of preferences and ways for them to contact you.


  • Create Different Versions of Personal Contact Cards
    Use FedexKinkos and, they can print up hundreds of cards in a flash for a low cost.
    If you need a few just cards print them yourselves.  Microsoft Word and Publisher offer document templates that allow you to create and print your own contact cards.  You can buy business card paper in most office supply stores (Avery paper).
  • Document Email Addresses and Numbers into a MS-Word, MS-Excel or other readable format
    This will provide you a way to keep track of your numbers and email accounts.
  • Utilize Address Books on Your Computer (i.e. Ms-Outlook, email/ISP provider) and Your Wireless Handheld
    By doing this, it will help you better manage your contact information, and reduce the need to memorize so many numbers and email addresses.

Lastly, make an effort to memorize at least some you important numbers and email addresses for emergencies or when you computer and/or handheld wireless device is not available.