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Posted: 7/14/2001 7:00:12 AM EST
I've had an analogue cell phone through US Cellular for a few years and have been very happy with the service. My phone died and I went with a high end Nokia digital phone which SUCKED! I couldn't even complete a call from my house which is in the middle of Madison! I ended up trading it in for a new analogue phone. The US Cellular digital phone only worked about 10% of the time in the courthouse, which not acceptable for our use. My phone is on a contract through my wife's firm and they're thinking of replacing their phones cause the fleet's aging, nearing contract end and her partner's daughters will be getting phones. US Cellular just stopped selling analogue phones -- and digital phones have more features than the analogue ones (though don't we buy them as a PHONE first and palm pilot second?). Needless to say, I think we may be stuck going to digital service. Anyone have any suggestions as to who has the best digital service? We're thinking of trying Cingular and may go with them if it works well. Also, does anyone know when we'll get a standardized digital service (kind of like the European standard) here in the US? Should we wait for that? (The current digital phones may not work with the new US standard system when it comes out.) I'd hate to invest in 6-8 phones and accessories only to have a new system come out in September. We're leaning toward Nokia 7160 phones. Anyone have any feedback on them? I realize the new crop of digital phones switch back and forth to analogue when needed, but in my experience still miss calls. Why is that? Do they only switch on outgoing calls? If I buy a $150 phone, I don't also want to buy a pager. Is it just me or does digital basically SUCK ALL AROUND? Should we stick with analogue til the new standard comes out? TIA
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 7:22:58 AM EST
Just get a phone that can do both. I have a Motorola Star-Tac that has 3 modes, 1600 Mhz digital, 800 Mhz digital, and the old 800 Mhz analog. It will switch to the strongest signal available and I haven't been to a place where it didn't work yet (with the exception of work where there a few dead zones from the 3+ stories of steel overhead). It has never dropped a call on me. The only quirk is that when it decides to switch between modes while you are talking it will break up for a second or so. The only thing I don't like about it is that when in analog mode it really sucks down the battery.
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 7:44:21 AM EST
I sell wireless phones and have seen the problems you describe. Almost all carriers have moved to digital service to add features and to increase the capacity of the towers. My best advice is to do plenty of research. By that I don't mean shopping around. Ask people who have phones and use them in the same areas that you do. That is your best gauge of service levels. If you want a Nokia phone make sure you only go with a service that uses TDMA technology. Nokia builds great TDMA handsets but poor CDMA handsets. They also have problems with the software that allows them to switch back and forth between analog and digital service. As for standardization, don't look for that to happen any time soon. Towers are very expensive to upgrade and since most providers have just recently upgraded to digital service they probably won't be making significant changes any time soon. The phones do switch to analog to receive calls but in some cases calls do not go through because of the systems you are using, not the phone. Lastly, digital doesn't suck but it does have disadvantages. Just like everything else it compromises certain things to gain other features. There are a couple of guys on the board who work on cellular towers and they may have more technical information than I can provide. Hopefully they will chime in with some advice as well. Aggie1
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 9:55:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/14/2001 9:53:37 AM EST by JacRyan]
Should I also be looking at different phones? Maybe Erickson? What is the best phone out there? Th 7160's features, including a download to your computer so you can keep the calendars, phone books etc., updated seems pretty useful (I'd rather punch info into a computer versus a phone.) But I'm sure they probably charge extra for the PC interface -- or is it integral to the phone? I'd love to hear from someone who works on the towers and others in the wireless industry. Thanks everyone. PS Aggie, I think you're right. I've got to get a loaner phone and drive around using it in the places I normally am at to see how it works. Cingular says they have more towers around here than US Cellular, so hopefully it'll work better. EDIT: The problem you mention with the switching software may have triggered my problems. If it's suppose to switch back and forth seamlessly, then there should only be a slight problem. I think my phone wasn't switching early enough. It was trying to stay in digital mode when the signal strength was too weak to make a call.
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 10:30:46 AM EST
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 3:51:48 PM EST
Usually the PC interfaces are extra. Prices range from $75-$$$$. That can be a neat feature but is it worth the money? Ericson phones are hit and miss in my experience. Some work great but some models really suck. One other thing to look for in a dealer(not Service Provider)is the ability to provide loaner phones if your phone fails. If it is critical to you business then this is a no brainer. One other suggestion came to mind as I read BeerSlayer's post. If you use a car charger, use it sparingly. They are quick chargers in most cases and will lead to premature battery failure. Also avoid the cheap car chargers as they usually lack the ability to cut back on charging when the battery is full. This usually ends up causing a fried battery very quickly. Hope this helps.
Link Posted: 7/15/2001 7:17:22 AM EST
BTT
Link Posted: 7/15/2001 7:54:57 AM EST
I travel all over the country. The analog phones are better if you are in the middle of nowhere a lot, they seem to have better range. However, the roaming charges were killing me and since you cannot get free roaming with analog, I went with digital. Digital does seem to drop more calls than analog. If you are going to use strictly local, stay with analog. If you travel out of your area, go with digital. As for the brands, I have used Nokia, Motorola, and Erickson. Erickson is junk, the Motorolas are okay, and I believe the Nokias are the best. For analog, my favorite was the NEC. In both modes the Motorola batteries did not last long whereas in digital the Nokia batts last the longest and in analog the NEC batts lasted forever it seemed.
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