How much will it cost me to read Metafilter on the bus?
November 9, 2011 12:40 PM Subscribe
I'm tentatively in the market for a smartphone or tablet or other such device that would allow me to do computery things, preferably things that use the Internet, while on public transportation. However, I'm pessimistic about my ability to actually afford anything that would provide the functionality I want. Am I wrong?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish to computers & internet (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I should note first off that the entire mobile-computing wave has passed me by. I have a desktop PC that I built myself and a flip-phone whose multimedia capabilities are restricted to recording terrible audio and taking grainy pictures that can then be set as wallpaper. I've seen Android and iOS devices in the wild and played around with an iPhone briefly (not impressed), lifted a Kindle once or twice to hand it to someone else, and that's about it.
I'd be fine with this, except I just moved to the Washington, DC, area and the only reasonable way to get to work is a bus ride that takes roughly an hour in each direction. Suddenly I have 120 minutes of down time a day, and while I can reasonably fill those hours by reading more or making giant robots punch each other on my DS, I'd like to be able to take that time to do the stuff I'd normally do on the computer before or after work – blog reading/commenting, communicating with friends I rarely see in person, keeping up with news, reading webcomics I follow, catching up on TV shows I don't watch with my fiancee (the lowest priority on this list), and so forth. It would be a way to keep doing those things without cramming that computer time into the all-too-brief time at home that I'd like to be spend relaxing with my fiancee, cooking, exercising or performing other activities that involve actual human interaction.
So I'd like something that can browse the Internet while away from a wi-fi hotspot (as the DC Metro has no plans to install such hotspots in its buses in the foreseeable future), but won't charge me as if I'm doing nothing but streaming high-definition video; anything I want to watch can be downloaded to the device at home over the wi-fi I already have. The Kindle doesn't seem like the kind of device you use for primary web access, even if it's pages like Metafilter and the NY Times; Kindle Fire looked perfect, from a price and feature standpoint, except that it's wi-fi only, which makes it next to useless for me. Smartphones or full-size tablets do everything I want but at a positively terrifying price tag; $200-300 on a gimped computer I'll only use on the bus is bad, but $500-$600 is outright absurd. Making the price problem worse, I really don't want to do my typing on a tiny phone screen. My cell phone bill right now is $25-$30 a month depending on how many texts people send me, and from what I understand the data plans a touchscreen device locks you into would more than triple that, not to mention the cost of the device itself.
So what are my options? Is there a particularly affordable solution I should know about, or should I just wait and hope that Amazon releases a cellular-capable Fire?