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.