April 9, 2012

The Android Trilogy: Part B) the right provider and data plan

(This is the second posting in my ABC's of Android:  A) The right gear, B) the right provider and data plan, and C) the right "Aps". You can find parts A and C on either side of this one. Do comment. Ken Mitton)

Welcome to Part B) of my Android Trilogy, on how I use an Android smartphone to  do real work, access email, information, share files, video conference and yes, listen to music, and for a lot less than the $50-$200 per month paide by some. So, lets talk about Part B) providers and phone plans.

First, I do not use long-term mobile phone contracts. I have always used Virgin Mobile for my provider, and I was already using a $25/month plan that gives me unlimited text and data, with 300 minutes free talk time per month. I never spend 300 minutes talking on my cell phone per month. My lab and office phones work just fine, and my converstations are down to business, brief and to the point. Web-browsing on the non-smartphones I had was never useful for much more than checking the weather, just too slow.  My plan did not have to change, I just changed the phone to the LG Optimus V. 

By the time you read this, a similar plan at Virgin Mobile may be about $35/month, but that is still a good deal, and easy on the wallet. It also keeps you free of a two year contract. It is easy to manage my Virgin Mobile account using the phone or their website (Virginmobileusa.com), and you are basically using the Sprint network in the USA. I still text my students, techs, and collaborators often, but now I am making better use of that unlimited data plan.

With the LG Optimus V, I have no fear of being throttled back for data speeds on the G3/4 networks, because this handset also has WiFi and bluetooth reception as well as a GPS receiver. I flip on the WiFi at home, at work, in coffee shops, turning off the G3/4 data connection, and all the internet use is OFF the G3/4 highway. Thus my data usage is mostly moving via WiFi during the day. Data flows just fine if no WiFi networks are around, just flip on the G3/4 data pipe. The GPS receiver uses global positioning to automatically orient your location when using the Google Navigator Ap that comes on the phone, or other Aps that utilize automatic mapping functions. 

If you really need to talk more than 300 minutes per month on a cell phone, you can spend more, not too much more, and get more minutes or unlimited talk time. I have found no real need. My longest talks on the phone are audio conference calls with Ideaconnection team members in Europe and the American South West. However, that is done using Skype, and I have that Ap on my Macs and my Optimus V. It is free to use between computers and smartphones. One hour meetings work just fine, with up to five of us in conference. Use the WiFi, stop a coffee shop with WiFi available if one is away from the office or home station, and you are good to go.

So that concludes part B) the right phone plan.. Virgin Mobile, unlimited data and text, 300 minutes anytime talk. (No limit on Skype talk over WiFi.) No annual or two-year contract required. 

In the next post of this little Android Trilogy, Part C), I will tell you about the truly useful Aps that either come with the Android 2.2.2 system on my Optimus V, or are easy to download from Google-Play, the new version of Google's Ap site.

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