Help me reinvent my telecommunicative self.
January 21, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Toronto: Help me figure out my phone/internet/gadgets arrangement. Can I really do it all with the iPhone?

Apologies for the length. I'm in the rare position of having absolutely no methods of communication or associated devices. I cancelled my cell phone service a month ago, starting tomorrow the phone will be disconnected. My 2 year old refurbished ThinkPad died on me about a week ago (yes, it's dead-dead, for reals) and since moving into my current apartment in the fall I have yet to sign up for home phone, internet or cable. Oh yeah and I left my ipod in a cab, never to return. So here we are.

I'm looking at cost (both monthly and overall) in terms of what combination of services and gadgetry I purchase, but I am willing to spend a little more for superior service or quality.

Here's what I need for sure:
- Some means of making phone calls
- Some means of using the internet
- Something for general computer use
- Some sort of ipod

Mitigating factors:

- Phone - not against the idea of landline only, but I do send a lot of texts and would generally prefer to have this.

- Minutes - with unlimited nights/weekends I can easily keep under ~200 mins per month

- Data usage - varies wildly, I went over fairly often on a 2GB home internet plan with Bell, but way under on their 20GB plan, but that was with an abundance of downloading I could probably pare down.

- Service providers I will work with: TechSavvy, Telus, Rogers if necessary (not preferred). No Bell under any circumstances.

- A computer would need to be somewhere under a grand for me to even consider it, yes I know Macs are great, which is why I'm trying to save up now to get a Macbook Pro later this year or next.

- While I do sometimes use Photoshop and a couple of other programs, I think that I'm probably ok just cobbling together internet cafe time with using my work computer after hours, I think (this is what I have been doing already for a few months). A bigger concern is theoretically using a tiny netbook or iPhone ALL the time and whether that will get annoying.

So far I've come up with a few ideas:

1. Netbook (~400) + Basic Telus Plan ($35+/month) + LG Keybo2 ($75) + Techsavvy Internet ($40/month) + shuffle ($80) = $555 up front, $75/month + bs fees, 3 year contract on phone
Downside: Netbook potentially insufficient for my needs.

2. Netbook (~400) + TechSavvy Home Phone ($35/month) + phone ($25?) + Techsavvy Internet ($35/month) + shuffle ($80)= $495 up front, $70/month, no contract
Downside: No texting, Netbook potentially insufficient for my needs.

3. iPhone 3gs ($199) + Telus smartphone plan ($80/month) + ??? = $200 up front (plus future mystery machine), $80/month, 3 year contract on phone.

Downside: I would need some sort of computer to deal with syncing and upgrades for the iPhone, yes? Could I get away with just using the computers at the internet cafe/work when I need to for now? Second concern is data - this is only 2g/month plan, not sure that is sufficient? There is also an $80 rogers plan for 5gb of data only, but there we are again with no phone.

Hope me internets. Where is the best bet?
posted by SassHat to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can tell you that the iPhone is lovely for what it is, and I love mine to pieces, but I would rather stab myself in the eye than use it as a primary internet machine. My cheap Hackintosh is pretty great for what it is, and I definitely could manage with it as my internet machine, but YMMV. The netbook will run a few things, but it's really best as an internet browser in my experience.
posted by Zophi at 1:01 PM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

The current crop of netbooks won't be able to handle PS reasonably. One of their main limits is memory. They are, however, quite decent for mail, browsing and video watching. Are you doing a lot of big image/photo manipulation or just web-sized graphics, or would a lighter-weight image manipulation program work for you?
posted by bonehead at 1:14 PM on January 21, 2010

To tackle one problem: You really need a specific computer to do syncing and upgrades for the iPhone. Internet Cafe will most definitely be out, and on a work computer you'd have to install iTunes and put all of your media on it (subject to your work environment).

iPhone as your sole internet device would get frustrating very quickly. My two cents: Wait a week, see what the Apple Tablet turns out to be, and the cost / release date.

In the meantime, buy a cheapo prepaid phone to get you by until you sort it out. Makes a good backup phone in the future regardless of what path you choose.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:14 PM on January 21, 2010

For all it's wonderfulness, the iPhone is not meant to be a primary internet machine. You will go mad. It's great when you want streaming audio on the go, or to look up some random price, but actual surfing is pretty painful once the novelty wears off.

Also, you will need your own computer for syncing your iPhone. You need to store your media somewhere other than your iPhone.

Personally, I'd get a cheap but decent laptop or desktop (which can most definitely be had for less than $1000, even handling PS if the memory is maxed out), and a phone. Land line or pay as you go - it's your choice. The grab a cheap mp3 player, or if you're set on a Apple, a Nano.
posted by cgg at 1:29 PM on January 21, 2010

Thanks for your answers thus far!

Zophie: I am planning to use a netbook pretty much exclusively for browsing .

Bonehead: Photoshop is really the least of my worries right now. I'm not doing anything too heavy or frequently - currently I've just been splurging 2 bucks at the internet cafe when I need to make a show flyer or whatever.

Shinynewnick - I will wait and see, I think. A week without a phone is no big deal - I can make do with email/work phone for serious emergencies for now.

cgg - I want an ipod because I've had nightmares with random-brand mp3 players, as have a lot of people I know. I'm no slave to apple (my past use only includes a shuffle I got as a christmas present, and 4 years mac indoctrination at my university), so any other recommendations are great.
posted by SassHat at 1:49 PM on January 21, 2010

Based mostly on how freaking expensive the smartphone plans are in soviet canukistan are right now, I'd think that a variant of 1 would probably suit your immediate needs and offer you the best chance to move on to something else when plans and your situation changes.

How does something like this strike you?

Fixed: Netbook ($400) + cheap pay-as-you-go feature phone ($70 - $100) + ipod nano ($151) + Modem for DSL phone line ($50)

Monthly: Prepaid cell with unlimited texts ($15/mo) + Techsavvy dry-line DSL ($9-12 + $30)/mo

Total: $660 to 700 startup, $55 to 60/mo ongoing.

Obviously you can cut your one-time startup costs to be according to your budget, and you can save considerable money by buying the phone, modem and ipod used (I wouldn't buy a first gen netbook).

Dryline DSL is internet over the phone line without paying for landline phone service. It saves about $15/mo.

If you want a home phone line, look into using Skype on the netbook. It's cheaper than paying for a landline.
posted by bonehead at 2:29 PM on January 21, 2010

One other thing if you go the netbook route: you will probably want to get a wireless router so that you can sit on the couch when you browse. It will also make your computer safer on the net. Netsavvy is having a sale on Linksys WRT54GLs right now, it looks like. That's a quite decent router and would work just fine with a Macbook if you decide to upgrade later.
posted by bonehead at 2:43 PM on January 21, 2010

I've had my iphone a few months now and for me, it has become my primary computer (including, yes, typing my deseration and all of my surfing and in constant use at work to access the library catalogue). I have no landline anymore - buh-bye bell. There is a PS app on the iphone but I haven't used it, basically just the fun photo manipulation stuff. If you have friendly neighbours like me you may find you leech off their wifi so much you don't go anywhere near 500 mb of use (plus the wifi lets you hop on skype). I have synched my iphone maybe two or three times to my mac mini, my entire itunes library is on the iphone. If you were going to get a used Mac I would recommend Carbon Computing on Queen East. If you aren't doing super fancy stuff you don't need to pay the premium for the lastest shiny thing from Mac. I am with rogers and pay about $70 a month all in for a phone/computer that is on non-stop with four people using it. I got the 3GS because I love the videocamera.
posted by saucysault at 3:34 PM on January 21, 2010

I wouldn't WANT to use my iPhone as my only computer, but I wouldn't find it near as bad as what you're reading here. About the only thing I would miss is long writing. Everything else I can do on the iPhone (even minor picture editing is getting easier).

In fact, I'd miss my iPhone far more than my computer. It's basically a computer in my pocket, and it's only going to get more-so in the future.

(you'll hear a lot of flack about the lack of a physical keyboard. If you actually give it a chance it's actually not bad at all.)
posted by justgary at 4:41 PM on January 21, 2010

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