My Scoblephone envy began a couple of days after Christmas when Robert was visiting at my home. He was touting this new Cingular 2125, that had just about every feature and doodad that brings cross-eyed glows into the faces of geeks everywhere. But I am no geek and I take pride in my non-geekiness as some of you have come to realize.
What I envied was that Robert had a phone that had both the words "Cingular" and five bars showing on the front. I am a Cingular subscriber, have been for over two years and I have never had a successful conversation on my cell phone inside my house. I have lost weeks, perhaps months of time explaining to people that my cell phone doesn't work at home, and actually wasn't all that great outside of it either. I have listened to hours upon hours of people complaining about having to leave me two voice mails.
I would have dumped Cingular long ago, except that before that I had T-Mobile and before that ATT Wireless and they both sucked in my home as well. I've asked every dealer there is if I could just take a phone home and try before I buy. No dice.
So I sat there staring at the five bars, as Robert went through all these nifty features, not listening here was a Cingular phone that worked in my house and I just had to have one.
Robert had learned about the phone from Chris Pirillo and wrote about it back on Dec. 21 or so. I've met Chris only once and immediately liked him, but he's even geekier than Scoble and that is going some. But this time I embarked to join them.
I went to a Cingular store in Redwood City. Robert had written that it was an Audiovox 2125, but he told me it was actually a Nokia. I went to my local store, where they told me the Nokia 2125 was sold only on the Pacific Rim. Scoble said he bought his in Seattle, which is sort of the Pacific Rim, but on the other side. I called Scoble. The clerk was not interested and insisted I wanted a phone that didn't exist. I tried three other Cingular stores, and could not get a dial tone. I went home and using my landline, started calling Cingular stores. A nice woman in the Cingular Palo Alto store said, of course they had the phone--but they were going fast. She agreed to put one of the last two away for me and told me that by the way, it wasn't a Nokia or an Audiovox, but an HTC, which is a Japanese OEM company who made the phone for Cingular specs.
I sped down there and the first thing I realized is that there is a great unevenness in the quality of Cingular stores. This one, at the intersection of El Camino and Page Mill Road had its act together. A knowledgeable sales person seemed to know everything about the phone, and could even explain why the other stores didn't have it or even know about it The phone had not yet been launched. She also solved the baffling mystery of why Scoble's phone worked in my house and my Motorola flip had not. It had nothing to do with the antenna. It had to do with next generation SIMM chips, which are apparently not only smaller but have a superior architecture for reception.
I took it home and learned that it was not as simple and intuitive as my old flip phone. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and it has taken me three calls to the Cingular wireless tech support guys and now I have all the functionality I want functioning as I want. Their tech support guys were sharp and patient and friendly. In the incumbent carrier world this is news. As a wholly owned subsidiary of SBC a company who could improve customer service by emulating Dell, this fact is monumental.
Short summary. I love this phone. It is a life changing piece of technology. The speaker phone is such high quality that people don't know I'm talking ands free. The screen is, to quote my geek c-author, "awesome." If you want a tech review Russell Beattie just did one yesterday, when the 2125 actually launched. You can read about it here.
Meanwhile, if you need a new phone, I think those technologically more adept than I am, have found a real nugget.