AT&T dropped calls in Chicago – does it ever get better?

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I’ve had AT&T for several years once the iPhone 3GS was available. Unfortunately that phone was stolen, so I now have a Samsung Model: SGH-A107. Yes, this fine piece of Chinese hardware is AT&T cheapest $30 phone. I’d like to ask how people’s experience has been with it because mine has not gone so well.

I guess I shouldn’t have expected much. While I had the iPhone I had problems with dropped/missed/never received calls and tried out a Nokia. That also was poor reception so that didn’t help. Troubleshooting every few months has resulted in the SIM card being replaced multiple times, and lots of voodoo magic. For example, I was instructed each week by AT&T personnel to turn off the phone for 30 seconds to kick it off the network. Then when it is turned on the updates magically appear.

Except it doesn’t help. I have done that faithfully the past 2 months and the problems are just as bad as ever. Dropped/missing/never received calls. I have friends say that are calling me on IM and it going to voice mail, but my phone never lets me know they even called. Talk about effective screening. AT&T is the phone you want to get when you “don’t” want to be in touch.

So get this, today the corporate tech support suggests that perhaps 30 seconds every week isn’t enough. That it doesn’t “give the phone enough time to update”. She kindly suggests that leaving the phone off for 5 minutes is going to allow it to update. So I do that. I leave the phone off for 30 minutes. Update that!

Guess what happens? That’s right! I drop calls tonight less than 6 hours after doing all these updates. You know the Verizon offer is looking better all the time. Has anyone found a phone combination that works reliably with AT&T? Please let the rest of us know.

Will I be switching to Verizon? Of course. I don’t know why I was this patient with AT&T. I will never again switch companies just because of one product.

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Thoughts on the iPad

This person asks iPad Price is Compelling, but is it Enough? I have an iPhone 3GS and its less than one year old.  It cost about $300 and I don’t regret the purchase.  I have been able to use many moments in my day that otherwise would have been wasted by having it.  So why am I not excited about the iPad?

iPad showing OpenStreetMap contentI am not a hardware guy.  I don’t get excited about hardware because most of the time its software that makes or breaks a devices usefulness to me.  So the iPad is compatible with all of the iPhone apps.  Great.  It has iWorks and an onscreen or attachable keyboard.  Great.  But actually using it?  I don’t think so.

One of the great things about a laptop is that the screen supports itself.  It is kind of odd to balance that screen and even odder to type on it.  If you are a laptop user you know the sometimes weird positions you get into finding a comfortable and ergonomic body position.  I can’t imagine how it will be to type on that.  I am really disappointed that they didn’t have a projected keyboard, or even come standard with a detached wireless physical keyboard.  Now why would someone who wants portability want to lug around an awkward keyboard?

The most disappointing thing though is that they went with the iPhone OS instead of the Apple one.  Yeah I know the technical reasons for it.  Lower power usage, better battery life, probably less R&D.  The obvious downside however is that this is not a laptop replacement.  The tablet PCs with Windows can be desktop replacements.  This can not be one.  If they are going to be innovative, spend the extra time/money to make the OS something that is more versatile.  Yes I can understand how difficult it might be to support expensive applications on a limited device, but it would make it much more valuable as well.

Take for example the typical Mac user.  They buy a Mac and want it to do a majority of things that are important to them.  I don’t think the iPad is going to do that.  Office compatibility?  Not unless you are going to try to do it through the internet or Google Docs.  Ability to act as a “digital hub”?  I don’t think so.  Mac fanboys wanted something that changed the form factor of the laptop.  The laptop is cool, but limited.  The battery life, risk of damage and cost make it a luxury item for many people.  I work in Apple technologies, and too often they were out of my budget.  A device that could be an “entry point” for people who are buying Netbooks currently would only increase Apple market share.

So is the iPad hopeless?  No, hopefully Apple will keep it around and continue to explore different UI and form factors for computing.  Really they need to take a bold step and work on projection technologies for both input and output.  I know that I won’t be buying one, and that is Ok.  People didn’t fall for the Air laptop with its limited functionality, and I doubt that they will buy this more limited functionality too.

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