Cell Phone Shopping Tips
(Click here for ScoutPalDB hardware requirements)
- MOST IMPORTANT: Does the carrier provide wireless service in
the areas where you bookscout? Some carriers have service limited to major
metro areas and interstate corridors only. This may only be a problem if
you bookscout in small rural towns.
- How easy is it to navigate and enter data? Some cell phones have
twitchy navigation keys. On the other hand, Motorola phones have very
tactile keyboards. This is a personal judgment, and best determined by web
browsing using a live device.
- Hold the phone in your hand, and simulate entering 10-digit ISBNs.
Can you do it with one hand, without looking? It's generally easier
to enter ISBNs on a phone rather than a PDA-style smart phones.
Standard cell phones are designed for rapid entry of 10 digit phone
numbers, which is exactly like entering a 10 digit ISBN. In
contrast, PDA phones are often designed for tasks like messaging, and
typically have tiny little keyboards (or none at all!), and often require
an extra button press to shift the keyboard into numeric mode
for ISBN entry.
- Does the wireless web plan give you unlimited use for a single
monthly fee? Carriers that offer this include Nextel, AT&T
Wireless, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile. A few of the "pay-as-you go"
(prepaid) carriers also
offer attractive web plans, for example BoostMobile charges only 35c/day
for unlimited browsing. Some carriers will use a full minute from
your voice calling plan every time you click on a web link, or their web
access fees are metered and expensive, so beware.
- Are there enough lines on the screen to provide a good web-browsing
experience? More lines are certainly better, as you will do less
scrolling, however there are many ScoutPals using simple 3-line phones.
- Ask about promotional plans, especially with regard to wireless web
use. Some plans are not advertised, and available only if you ask.
- Contract carriers will give you a period of time after you purchase to try the phone out.
(Usually 30 days.) You will normally still have to
pay the account activation fee (typically around $35), and used minutes if
you return the phone and cancel the contract.
- Make sure that the wireless web plan will let you browse directly to any
cell-phone compatible web site. Some of the base-level cell phone web
plans provide only a specific set of web sites of their choosing, and
don't offer a way to enter any other web address.
- After you have selected a cell phone or PDA, ask to have it activated
with web service in the store before you take it home. A couple of
ScoutPal users have taken home new phones and PDA's only to have them
remain unactivated for many days after purchase because of snafu's with
the carrier. Make your salesman work for the commission! Also, have the
salesman show you how to add bookmarks (links) to the phone browser so
that you can quickly get the phone logged into ScoutPal when you are ready