Thursday, August 12, 2010

Captivate Me!

Almost three weeks ago, I was given a Samsung Captivatefor an anniversary gift. I had been using the LG Neon, and to say that I was not happy with it would be a fairly dramatic understatement. (Besides other issues, about half of the time I would make a call, there would be perhaps a 15-second delay before I could hear the other party.) I recently bought an inexpensive Chinese media player, and- surprise!- got what I paid for. Claire knew of my issues with my media player, and offered to buy me an iPod Touch.

After some research, I suggested that perhaps a good smartphone would meet my portable media needs as well, and resolve my phone issues, too, and might be in the same price range. I bought my Palm Centro (which succumbed to "battle damage" because someone was dumb enough to take it on missions with him at WLC) just over a year ago, so I have many months to go before I am eligible to get discounted pricing for renewing my two-year contract. I have been very interested in Google's Android operating system as an open-source alternative to the iPhone, with its proprietary code, but ATT was late to the Android game, since iPhone is only offered by ATT (and they must have believed they'd be competing against themselves). The first ATT Android, the Backflip, didn't appear to be an ideal solution.

At the ATT store, Claire urged me again to get a phone that I was really happy with, even if it was more than I'd wanted her to spend. The manager pointed out the Captivate (ATT's version of the Samsung Galaxy S), which was so new the sticker hadn't even been put on its pedestal yet. The screen was very large (4"!) and bright, the colors were vibrant, controls were intuitive and I was quoted a no-commitment price of $350. (Which was apparently at least $150 cheaper than it should have been, but ATT had some much-needed kissing up to do to me, anyway.)

So far, I am LOVING this phone! I use a lot of Google products already, so I can use various Google application FREE instead of paying to use ATT services that are most likely not as good. I can use Google Maps to navigate, use Google Voice to send text messages without using any of my pool of ATT SMS, and use Google Chat to send messages to friends who are using computers or smartphones. If I'm in another application, new chat messages will pop up at the top of my screen, and I get a lot of use out of the Kindle app. Since the Captivate has GPS, I can hear turn-by-turn directions to addresses I type in, or select on the map. (Since I have special abilities of losing myself, I especially like this feature.) Video is clear and bright, the camera is excellent, and the phone's apps are easily customizable. I have tons of storage capacity (16G, plus the 16G micro SD I added), and almost all commands are almost idiot-proof.  Since ATT wants to take every cent they can from their customers, they do not offer unlimited data plans. To reduce my data consumption, whenever possible, I use the Captivate's WiFi.

What I don't love: I'm still acclimating to the virtual keyboard. The Captivate/Galaxy has a "SWYPE" function, but I haven't really played with it yet. It took me a while to find a way to not have to wade through the THOUSAND or so people listed as my GOOGLE contacts when I'm just trying to make a PHONE call, dammit (from "phone" function, choose "contacts", then "groups")! The only true flaw I've found is the power supply. The Captivate's power/data connection is on the curved top of the phone. The slightest jar will knock it loose (a coworker with a competitor's version of the Galaxy with a straight top, does not have this problem).

The Captivate so far has proven to be an excellent mobile computing device and media player, and it's a pretty good phone, too. I give it a 9.75 of 10 possible points.


Matt G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt G said...

I thought that your old All You Can Eat data plan would grandfather you in? Of course, yours is a Smart Phone.

Mind the GPS feature-- I had been cruising along, occasionally using the AT&T GPS, thinking that it was a pretty good deal (it works great, and incidentally, gives the same directions at the exact same time as Dad's Garmin Nuuvi, in the same woman's voice), but upon looking on my on-line bill (AT&T has by far the best and most informative online billing and controls), I could see that I was paying $10 a month for that feature. Hell, for $120 a year, I'll just buy a decent dedicated dash-mounted GPS!

I'm tickled that you got the new phone. The better to chat with you, sir.

J.R.Shirley said...

No, unlimited data plans don't work with smartphones.

I can use the Google services instead of ATT's navigation feature.