I finally caved

My friends are always saying they’re amazed I don’t buy up every new piece of tech at the first opportunity. I try to explain: there’s no point buying it if I’m not going to use it enough to justify the cost. It’s enough for me to know what it is and how it works. I’ve been refusing a smartphone for years on those grounds, and yet I ended up with one anyway.

In December me and Dean (mostly Dean) were researching BlackBerry phones and plans since his sister wanted to pay less for the phones her family had and maybe get new ones. It turned out there were some really nice deals around for Christmas, so we started debating the possibility of getting one for ourselves. Really, it came down to how much we’d use BBM, since that was the only thing that our friends used that our old phones couldn’t do.

I went for it since I’d be switching carriers and ending up on a plan that matched my usage better than what I was paying on prepaid, while Dean got one and stayed with his prepaid plan (did you know you can get BlackBerry on a prepaid plan now?).

The thing is, now that I have it I’ve been testing out its features to see how useful the phone could be for me. For the most part my assumptions have been correct. I don’t use the mp3 player because it eats too much battery and can’t scrobble to last.fm. I have an iPod that I love which does that job much better. I don’t play games on it because don’t like most of them, and the few I like (SimCity, Sims3) are best played on the PC. I didn’t opt for a data plan thus, I don’t use the social networking or email services, since those require BIS, which requires a data plan. Since I spend most of my time in places with wifi, and I have no need to be “connected” when I’m not in one of those places I haven’t missed that at all.

That means my phone gets used for pretty much the same things I used the other one for, except I use BBM all the time in place of texting, and occasionally check the internet from the kitchen (where before I’d run downstairs for the laptop, all freaked out the stove would catch fire while I was away from it – childhood baggage). I find the Calendar handy, and I sync it with my Google Calendar so I don’t forget about stuff, and like my other phone I keep my Contacts up to date so I don’t forget where you all live and what your emails are.

Writing this post I’m testing out the BlackBerry WordPress app, since I could see this solving the problem of wanting to write something and forgetting about it later. We’ll see how that goes.

It turns out aside from BBM, I use my phone the most as an ereader. I’ve been having insomnia the last 3 weeks or so, and reading on my phone means I can read in bed in the dark without having to get up and wake Dean up all the time.

At the same time, reading on a screen not designed for it is hard on the eyes, which makes me want to buy the other piece of tech I’ve been holding out on for years: a dedicated ereader.

From talking to people and reading Consumer Reports and reviews online, it looks like I’m going to get a Nook at some point this year. The last few times we’ve been in Windsor we’ve went to Detroit for shopping or dinner so at least I can go look at one in person first and make sure it’s the one for me.

I’ve chosen the Touch since I’m a tactile person and need to feel like I’m turning pages rather than just pushing a button. It’s not the same as a paper book but it’s good enough for my brain.

I feel really weird for getting this phone and wanting the ereader though. For years both of them have been in the things-I’d-use-but-don’t-need category, and that’s still true. It’s nice being able to BBM instead of texting, but I’d be fine without it. Likewise with the ereader. It’d be good to be able to read ebooks on a screen designed for it instead of on my phone or the computer, but I can still read them just fine that way.

Overall I’m happy with my phone and use it all day long. That makes it worthwhile. I suspect the same will be true if I do what I’m planning and get the Nook.

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