Old Lady Skypes iPad, Dumps T-Mobile

:-D

It worked!

This morning I downloaded the Skype app onto my handy little iPad, which mostly has functioned as a Kindle reader and game center. Set up an account, fed my friends’ phone numbers into it, and (most important!) entered numbers for the roadside service and for Chuck’s Auto Service.

Tested: ta da!!! Works likes a remarkably high-quality squawk box. No earbuds required. No need to hold a gadget up to your head. Kewl.

Canceled the endlessly frustrating T-Mobile service. The phone, disconnected from its carrier, will do just fine to dial up 9-1-1, should the need ever arise while I’m on the road.

I’m quite tickled. In fact, I’m feeling a lot happier about this than I did when I bought the T-Mobile phone and signed up for the allegedly low-cost month-to-month service.

AT&T costs $15 a month. Skype costs 2.3 cents a minute; that would be $2.30 for 100 minutes, probably more time than I’ve spent yakking on phones over the past year. The optional Skype phone number is $60 a year or $5 a month, bringing the cost to about $20, maybe $22 a month. You can use it for texting, too.

T-Mobile’s no-contract service is $33 a month (plus tax, which brings it to $35) for a few minutes of conversation and unlimited texting and Internet.

The iPad is intuitive and easy to use. Links to contacts’ phone numbers are large, obvious, and easy to click. Skype also provides a dialpad that fits your fingers. You get as much low-cost talk and text as you choose to pay for; unlimited Internet; access to iCloud, your MacMail, and all your contacts; apps coming out the wazoo; Kindle and iTunes books; a browser you’re familiar with; and virtually no learning curve. The Nokia provided by T-Mobile is endlessly puzzling, anything but intuitive, microscopic, and has a keypad designed for the delicate appendages of a mosquito.

Pretty neat improvement, IMHO.

Today’s Grand Switch had an immediate cause, beyond the general user-unfriendliness of the Nokia. Month or two ago I set up T-Mobile to charge the monthly $33 to my AMEX card. This worked at first. Then along about the 10th of this month, in comes an email saying they’ve received the most recent payment and now I have to go to the T-Mobile site, sign into my account, and “purchase a pass.”

So I attempt to jump through this hoop. Go to the linked page and find…no choice to “purchase a pass.” You can “fill,” but in my experience this is a command to bill you for another $33. Not inclined to experiment with that, I drop by the T-Mobile store around the corner.

There I ask what is meant by “purchase a pass.” The employees have no clue. They’ve never heard of “purchasing a pass.” They say it means I haven’t paid this month.

Back at the Funny Farm, I call American Express and discover that T-Mobile charged and received their $33 on January 4. A few days later, while I’m driving around, I drop by another T-Mobile store. It’s about 10:30 a.m. Their signage says they open at 10. But the doors are locked and no one’s in the store.

Enough, already, with paying $33 a month for air, a gadget that makes my head ache when I try to use it, and endless hassle.

If this works out, I may buy an iPad mini and put Skype on that — sometime after Apple emanates new versions, pushing down prices for the iPad that will be made “obsolete.” The mini model would easily fit in a zippered pocket in a purse. Until then, I’ll have to hide the iPad in the car when the weather’s cool and tote it around during the summer.

But at least I’ll be toting around something I can use.

 

 

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Revanche January 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Last first: I would be in favor of toting around the iPad always just because there’s no point in tempting a break in. But that’s just me living in Paranoid City.

Otherwise, that’s great it works well!

When I was traveling, I used Skype on iPad as a more reliable and cheap phoning option. I don’t pay for the internet plan though, do you? That reduces the benefit of the tablet but I really didn’t want another monthly bill and I’ve been muddling by on wifi connections for a while. Makes me wonder how much more useful it would be to have the connection.

Funny about Money January 30, 2013 at 5:52 am

@ Revanche: The Internet connection is a great convenience. Since I don’t hang out at Starbucks, there actually are relatively few free wifi connections…and of course, the whole point is to have a way to call for help if (more likely “when”) my 13-year-old car craps out on the freeway.

Because the Dog Chariot is an old junker, thieves are less tempted by it than by newer cars that look like they might belong to someone who has something worth stealing. A minivan has lots of places to hide things out of sight — a favorite spot is under a towel underneath the jumper cables that are stashed in an old Rubbermaid tub in back.

Linda January 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

When I bought an iPad last year I splurged for the 4G version, mainly because I thought it would come in handy for travel. Like you, I’ve found that I can get by just fine with the $15 month data plan. I mostly use data when I’m commuting on the train and want to check my email and social media sites before I get to the office, or when I’m checking work email just before bed. I could do this on my smartphone, too, but as a bona-fide middle-aged person I don’t interact with such a small screen as well. ;-)

Skype was awesome when I was traveling outside the U.S. a few years ago. I’d connect up with Wifi and check in with my guy most days. Now that Facetime is available with a Wifi connection on the iPad, I’ll probably use that during my next overseas travels. I may not be staying at places with Wifi in the rooms, though, so I’m looking into Wifi “pocket routers” to convert the old-fashioned LAN ports found in most rooms to a mini-Wifi hotspot I can access with the iPad. And I’m also thinking an iPad mini would be better than the full-sized one…ah, how technology reels us in!

Evan January 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

Does this mean you need to be at a wifi spot to make a call?

funny February 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Yes. If you don’t subscribe to a cellular service — which is only $15 from AT&T, compared to the supposed bargain of $35 from T-Mobile — you have to be near a wifi spot to use an iPad on the Internet.

kat March 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm

but with your idea, you’d have to always be in a public or some accessible wi fi. if not, you’d have to pay a considerable amount each month to att for internet.

funny March 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

AT&T is only $12 a month; Skype is the next thing to free. I was paying $30 a month for T-Mobile service, for an object that I couldn’t figure out how to use, had to force myself to remember to recharge, and was lugging around in my purse with no assurance that it would actually work when I needed it. Thus connectivity is costing me less than half of what T-Mobile’s low-end service cost, and I know how to use an iPad.

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