Geek Stuff

A Month Too Late

This picture shows the view from my office window, as seen by my crappy cellphone camera. Despite the picture’s (lack of) quality, you can see a pile of brush and sawdust which was a tree yesterday. Some readers may suspect me of being a closet tree-hugger and think I’m going to rant about the senseless slaughter of a tree in the prime of its life. Co-workers, who are well aware that my appreciation of nature leans more towards fauna than flora, asked me how much I bribed the chainsaw man to make the tree disappear.

Looking through the space which was once a tree, there is now an unobstructed view of a sidewalk. Although now deserted, this sidewalk is a major pedestrian thoroughfare, and during the academic year it is a great place to observe the student body, especially in the early fall and late spring when attire is appropriate for comfort in the balmy climate. Especially during the breaks between classes, the window and sidewalk provide a pleasant distraction from the tedium of the workday. In the past, this pleasant visual interlude was somewhat curtailed as the view through the branches was somewhat limited. If only this major environmental enhancement could have happened a month ago, when campus was still teeming with students. September is a long way off.

Since this is at least the second time I have mentioned my crappy cellphone camera, and since it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, maybe it’s time for another geek gadget review: a 5-month evaluation of my Motorola Razr V3.

In keeping with my impulsive nature, I coveted the Razr since I first laid eyes on it. It was love at first sight. And, despite the wise saying that the best cure for love at first sight is often second sight, once I’ve been smitten I ignore any nagging indications that maybe this really isn’t truly meant to be.

As little as I use a cellphone, I really had no need for a new one. My rate plan is the cheapest I could find, $18 a month (including all the little BS charges that get added on to advertised rates), for 100 minutes. That paltry airtime allotment, which wouldn’t last some people a day, is far more than I ever use in a month. So why would I need a cellphone, when my trusty Motorola T720 was barely 2 years old, and still met all my needs?

Why? Why? Are you blind? Look at the Razr. It’s so sleek and svelte and begging to be held. And the still-reliable T720, which had left me equally smitten at first sight, was beginning to look a little chunky by today’s standards. It was definitely time for a trophy phone.

Besides, the T720 didn’t even have a camera. Who would want to be seen in public today with a chunky camera-less phone? I didn’t investigate the possiblity of a camera implant for the T720, but I don’t think it would have been an option.

Actually, the camera wasn’t that much of an attraction. (Don’t we all say that?). If it was, I might have paid a little more attention to some of the reviews pointing out that the 0.3 megapixel resolution of the Razr’s camera was somewhat meager compared to other phones. Other guys would have phones hanging on their hips with far more impressive measurements. But they wouldn’t have that overall Wow factor of the Razr. Actually, there was a newer Razr model with an enhanced camera, but it wasn’t compatible with Cingular. And I didn’t want to leave Cingular and give up my cheap rate plan, which they don’t even sell any more.

Seriously, I didn’t care about the camera. I didn’t need a cellphone with a camera. I already had three digital cameras (four if you count the SiPix Blink which I never use). And all of them (except the Blink) have greater resolution than the Razr. Besides, megapixels aren’t all a guy needs. No cellphone camera, regardless of its impressive measurements, is going to have a high-quality lens. They’re good for quick, fun, snapshots. And for that purpose, 0.3 megapixels should be good enough.

So, aside from the camera, what else does the Razr do to justify dumping my T720? Well, just take another look at it. Okay, besides making me drool, what else does it do?

Um, let’s see .. uh, well, it has Bluetooth. That’s cool. If I wanted to, I could get one of those snazzy wireless headsets, which look way cool or way dorky, depending on your point of view. But I thought I would feel way dorky strutting around in a Star Trek headset that I only talked into 15-20 minutes a month.

Aside from a headset that I don’t have, Bluetooth provides other interesting capabilities. I can transfer pictures, address book, and calendar information between the phone and my computers. That’s actually pretty cool. Entering all that stuff on the phone’s keypad is a pain, especially since I don’t have the kind of thumb dexterity that all teenagers seem to have now as a result of constant text-messaging. Now I can enter info on the computer and zap it into the phone. Actually, I could do that with the Bluetoothless T720, by plugging in a cable. But the Razr does it wirelessly … way cool.

Supposedly, the Bluetooth link between computer and cellphone also provides dial-up modem capability. If I ever find myself stranded with my laptop in a wifi-less zone, and I need an Internet fix badly enough to be willing to burn up my precious few minutes, the Razr will rescue me. So far, I haven’t even been tempted to try it.

So what else? Oh yeah, the snazzy color display, way cooler than on the T720. And customizable. Now I can flip open my phone and see this cool headshot of Crossbo. At least I can when I’m indoors. In daylight, the Razr’s display is damn near invisible.

So it has a lot of features that, at second sight, are not much more impressive, or useful to me, than the T720. But I wanted it at first sight, so I got it.

And, as it turns out, I’ve gotten more use out of the camera than I expected to, like the picture that started this monologue. Sure I have three cameras that are better. And, for any serious photography, I’ll use one of them, if I have it. But I’m usually not carrying one of them around with me. The beauty of the Razr’s camera is that it’s (almost) always there. No more of those “I wish I had a camera” moments. Now it’s just “I wish I had a better camera”.

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