Is It Possible to Live Without a Cellphone?
Photo credit: Charlie Sorrel
Is it possible to live without a cellphone? We’re going to find out, and we need your help.
The modern phone offers every kind of portable function we might need, from communication to music and movies. But it comes with a cost: The monthly tariff. As somebody who hardly ever makes a phone call on with my cellphone (that’s what Skype is for), I have been wondering if I could give it up all together.
This is partly to do with my current Brick, a Sony Ericsson P900, being such a huge and battered piece of junk that I don’t want to carry it, but it also has a lot to do with controlling access to my time – most calls I get are from people who want me to troubleshoot their Mac or PC.
I already refuse to listen to voicemail, and the SMS is a social horror: witness the scene the next time you visit a bar — tables full of friends, all ignoring each other and instead conversing with people via text messages. Could I ditch my cellphone completely and still organize a social life, or is this act of ludditism the equivalent of scurrying into a cave and becoming a hermit?
It seems to be a question of the speed of communication. I have an iPod Touch, and most of my friends know that email is my preferred way to keep in contact. The iPod Touch is great for this, but I’m limited to open Wi-Fi hotspots. The obvious answer would be to buy an iPhone and switch off the ringer, but here in Spain an iPhone costs a fortune in monthly changes and has an embarrassing 1GB per month maximum data plan.
What to do? Ditching the phone means also ditching the monthly plan, so no Blackberry suggestions, please. Likewise the Peek, the $100 email-only device. On the surface, a single purpose email box looks great, especially at the price, but you need to pay a monthly carrier charge for it.
Another option is a Wi-Fi sharing service like Fon. You buy a router which splits your home connection in two — one encrypted network for you, and another open one which can be used by any other Fon owner who comes across it. In Spain there are a lot of these around, but you still need to search and connect every time you want to check email. This could be both good and bad, depending on how urgent is your mail.
To be honest, I’m stumped. It seems almost impossible to stay connected without a cellphone. I’ve even considered a pager, but that’s likely to be even more annoying than a ringing phone, and everybody will think I’m some kind of retro drug dealer.
This is where you come in. How can I solve this problem? To recap: I want to be able to get email wherever and whenever I want, but I don’t want to sign up for a new, junky cellphone and rip-off data plan. Solutions in the comments, please. In the meantime, I will be switching off my phone and seeing just how the hermit lifestyle works out. A full report next week.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Is It Possible to Live Without a Cellphone? | Gadget Lab | Wired.com