Savings on the Go!!!

As the economy begins its recovery, many of us are looking for ways to save a few bucks.  The other day, while shopping with my daughter at the mall, I saved over $20, just by using the very device that is by my side everywhere I go – my mobile phone. 

Remember the days when you had tons of coupons from mailers, newspapers etc and you forgot them at home?  Now all you need to do is turn on your mobile device, download one or many of the apps below and start searching for coupons, while you’re in the store!  No printing is usually required and many of the sales associates are aware of this common practice, which requires you to simply show the coupon on your phone. 

Here are some of the apps I would recommend (all of which were free in the Android Marketplace – other App Worlds/Stores might charge a fee, but these apps will pay for themselves):


This app can be used along with your GPS to figure out where you are and what stores are in the vicinity.  If your store doesn’t show up or GPS is off, you can do a search for the store.  If a coupon exist, it will likely be on this application.  The app also has some nice additional features, including a Shopping list, a Wish List, Savings Calculator and Barcode integration to check pricing.



Similar to GeoQpons, Coupons will also use GPS to figure out your location, if turned on.  Coupons also provides discounts that can be used right from the phone, but also shows discounts that can be obtained via e-mail sign-up.  Coupons main page provides the average gas price in your area, making you want to use the coupons provided, even more…


AAA Discounts


If you are a AAA member, you can get this app and it will provide all the AAA discounts offered in your area.  I didn’t know this, but apparently, New York and Company offers a discount for AAA members (don’t hold me to it, I am only going by what the app tells me).  You can also put your AAA membership number in the app, so if you need assistance, you can call right from the app and they will know your location.


Entertainment App

Do you have one of those Entertainment books and always forget the book when you are out?  Well, the app cannot act as a replacement for coupons in the book (it will tell you that there is a coupon for the store, but direct you to your book), but it can help for coupons that don’t require the book itself.  In addition, if you are in a store and you see there is a coupon, it will at least make you aware and you have the ability to save the offer, so you remember to clip the coupon (I am not sure about you, but I get overwhelmed whenever I start looking through the book itself).  What I have also found helpful, is letting the app find my location, so I can note all the coupons in my area.  I then go and save these under saved offers, so I know to clip, when I go to those retailers.  Membership number can be put right in the app, to validate you are a member.   



I reviewed this app awhile back and a lot more has been done to it since that time.  I will not go into a lot of details on the app itself other than to say there are some nice deals that can come out of Foursquare.  For example, I was once the mayor of Sports Authority in my area.  As a result, I received 10% off my purchase, any time I walked into that store!  There is also a coupon for a free Chips and Dip any time you go into a Chilis.  Some might think Foursquare is just a gimmick to check into places and let your friends know where you are, but as I wrote in my review, there are many practical uses – like saving money!!!

While there are probably many other apps out there, these are some of the ones I have found most helpful.  Even if you can save a little along the way, it can make a big difference in the end.  Happy savings!


Amazon App store is now live – free Angry Birds Rio today!!

The much-anticipated Amazon App store for Android has finally gone live today (link provided below).  Even better, to entice people to use the site, Amazon is offering Angry Bird Rio, an all new exclusive Angry Birds game to the Amazon store, for free! 

I haven’t had much time to check out the site myself, but I will be checking things out today, and getting my copy of Angry Birds. 

When you get a chance today, head on over to the Amazon App store, let us know what you think and get your copy of Angry Birds today!

*Photo above taken from

AT&T and T-Mobile Merger – It’s a Sprint to the Finish…

So AT&T has bought T-Mobile…what a surprise.  Did anyone believe something like this wasn’t bound to happen, eventually?  Did anyone ever think that it wouldn’t be AT&T and Verizon in the end, just like the US and Soviets during the Cold War? 

Well, hold your virtual horses for now because the deal is still pending regulators consent, but let’s pretend  just for a moment.  Let’s pretend that the merger is approved and AT&T absords T-Mobile USA.  What does it mean to the others?

The Consumers – right off the bat, I think consumers will prosper over this merger.  The merger gives AT&T more resources; for example, they can now utilize T-Mobiles infrastructure.  More resources, mean more leverage, which means lower costs in the end.  AT&T’s ability to lower costs, will likely spark competition and force competitors, like Verizon, to lower their costs.    Many might argue the consumer will lose here because there are fewer choices and greater potential for a monopoly.  Let me remind you a monopoly means one; even if we are left with Verizon and AT&T, it’s not a monopoly.  You might have less choice, but honestly, right now, I’d rather have 2 good choices, than 1 great choice, a good choice and a few sub-par choices.  In addition, for those worried AT&T and Verizon would collectively dabble in unfair business practices under Anti-Trust laws, do you really think these 2 companies could ever play nice together?

The competitors – Sprint is in trouble.  Sprint had hoped to merge with T-Mobile, but that is obviously not going to happen with this proposed AT&T merger.  Now Sprint is going to be running for its life with little room to breath.  They have little leverage to compete with the competitor’s price points and honestly, they don’t have the products either.  My suggestion here is for them to work out a deal with Verizon (like they would actually ask for my suggestion…).  They share the same CDMA technology, so it seems like a match made in heaven.  Worried a Verizon/Sprint merger would never be approved, you say?  Well, if the regulators approve the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, they are kind of setting a precedent to approve a Verizon/Sprint merger. 

Of course, there is still much to go before we see a completion to any official merger.  The merger must now be approved by the government, so it will be interesting how all of this plays out in the coming weeks.

The Thunderbolt has arrived – will lightning only strike once for extending your unlimited data plan beyond this Summer?


Today marks the release of the much-anticipated HTC Thunderbolt from Verizon.  So why was the Thunderbolt such an anticipated device?  Besides having a cool name, the reason is because it is the first 4G (or LTE…however you prefer to call the next generation network) phone on the Verizon network.  While it is the first phone on 4G, many are asking should I go out and buy one, or a more common question asked specifically to me is, will I go out and buy one? 

If you would have asked me a couple of months ago, I would have said, no, I’m waiting, simply because there are a bunch of other 4G phones on the horizon, and I am also curious what the iPhone 5 will have in store (despite not likely being on Verizon until next year..imo).  Of course, that is if you asked me a few months (even weeks) ago.  I have since started to think (I do this every so often) and it hit me how well Verizon has played its hand these past few months…that’s assuming my assumptions here are accurate. 

Let’s look at some of the facts so far:

  • Verizon just released the most popular smartphone ever on their 3G network, the iPhone, locking people into a contract for at least the next year (likely 2 yrs).
  • Verizon has stated that the unlimited data plans will be going away, likely sometime this Summer.
  • Your rate is usually locked in, at least until the end of your plan term, or you make changes to your services.

If Verizon starts to not offer unlimited data plans beginning this Summer, if you are already locked into the unlimited plan, you will likely be grandfathered in and able to stick with unlimited, at least until your contract is up for renewal or until you make a service change (there is a gray area here, so these are the assumptions).  But, if you are one of the people who makes the change from 3G to 4G after the unlimited is phased out, you will likely be in the position where you have to take one of the new “limited” data plans. 

So while waiting for the other phones could be a good thing, it could also work against you because making the service change from 3G to 4G, later this year, could force your hand in forfeiting your unlimited plan for one of the new limited data plans (depending when Verizon makes the change from unlimited to limited only plans). 

Also, all the people who signed up and got an iPhone are trapped in the 3G world until their contract expires; unless, they go out and buy a new 4G phone at full cost.  By the time the iPhone users are up for renewal, I assume most of the new phones will be on the 4G network, so even if you are grandfathered on the 3G network, you are going to eventually have to make the change to 4G, hence likely going to lose the ability to stay on the old unlimited plan. 

The best case scenario than is to be one of the first in on the 4G network before anything is changed.  Once on the 4G plan, as long as you stay with 4G and don’t swap out onto a different data plan (ie.  Blackberry Corporate vs. Smartphone), you should be grandfathered into the plan.  Even if your contract expires, I wonder if you would still have the ability to keep the unlimited…hmm?   

Remember, a lot is assumed here based on what has transpired for me in the past with Verizon.  I don’t work for Verizon, nor has anyone from Verizon confirmed any of these assumptions to me.  I am clearly speculating, based on what I have seen from being a Verizon customer the past 10+ years.  I can tell you I ran into a similar situation with the mobile hotspot/tethering service and it wasn’t until I let my Blackberry go and hooked up my Droid that they changed my tethering plan from the, no longer offered, $15/unlimited, to the new $20/2G plan.  If I would have kept the Blackberry, I would have continued to enjoy the $15/unlimited tether option, since I was grandfathered into that service option.  

For all we know, Verizon could just make everyone change their data plans; regardless of when your contract expires, or phase people out based on some internal algorithm.  The data plans are just considered an added service, taken on a month to month basis, so they likely have these options without going against your contract.  On the other hand, they could  just grandfather all loyal customers into unlimited, although this is very unlikely – probably more likely they just keep the unlimited plans and just raise the price.   What I do know, is I would rather take my chances now and move to a 4G unlimited plan with the chance of being grandfathered in, rather than take that chance later, knowing they will more than likely take away my unlimited once I change over. 

It might be time to get out the lighting rod, and get into some of this thunder, before it’s too late!   Thunder….Thunder…Thunderbolt…Hoooo!  (yes, I had to say it…I grew up in the 80s, I couldn’t let it go…snarf…snarf..snarf…okay, I’m done)

iPad 2 – What’s the Plan?

 Verizon, AT&T and Apple are all set to start selling iPad 2 devices tomorrow, beginning at 5pm EST. 

If you were considering getting a Verizon ready iPad, here are the plans that will be offered:

  • 1GB per month – $20
  • 3GB per month – $35
  • 5GB per month – $50
  • 10GB per month – $80

If anyone has a data plan on their smartphone and utilizes the hotspot feature for an extra $20 a month, you might start reading between the lines on these plans.  For $20 a month, I can use my smartphone as a mobile hotspot and have my iPad hooked up to the Internet via the phone.  While it drains the battery a bit, it is a lot cheaper at $20/2GB, then the plans above.  It makes me wonder what Verizon has in store for the mobile hotspot plans.  We already know the unlimited plans on the phones are going away…I have a feeling the $20/2GB hotspot/tether plans will change in the near future too, to look more like the plans above. 

If you are an AT&T user, the plans offered, will look these below:

  • $14.99/250 MB per month
  • $25/2GB per month

Overage on the plans varies based on the carrier and the specific plan.  See carrier for details.

Your smartphone battery draining the life out of you?

Did you just buy one of the latest smartphones, only to find it consumes your battery quicker than the next Charlie Sheen story can be published on a major news site? Wondering why such a sophisticated device can run at ancient capacity levels? The problem actually isn’t capacity, the problem is demand for that capacity. Since the devices are becoming much more powerful, they are requiring more power! The recently announced Thunderbolt that will run on Verizon’s 4G network has, as many know, been delayed and the rumor is the device has battery issues. More speed, usually means faster processing, which equates to more required juice.

If you find yourself charging your phone every 4 hrs, and are not willing to upgrade to a larger capacity battery, here are some quick hits that should improve your battery levels:

  • Turn off your location services – this includes Google, Verizon (or whoever your provider is), and GPS. This will impact your instant weather and any cool features that require these services to know your location, but how often do you really use them, and you can always turn them back on when you do.
  • Lower the brightness of your screen and don’t use auto bright. Your display is your worst enemy when it comes to consuming the battery. Keep it at a minimum.
  • Watch out for programs that auto sync or pull information regularly. Getting your tweets every 5 minutes; perhaps your e-mail every 10 minutes? Every time your phone goes out to get this info, it costs you battery power. If you only check this info every hour, have those services only poll every hour. You can usually poll on-demand, so if you happen to check before the next scheduled poll, you have options available to you.
  • Turn off your WiFi – if you aren’t using it, turn it off. Yes, you will have to remember to turn it back on when you are home or wherever you use WiFi, assuming you do, but WiFi “always on” draws a lot of power because the phone is constantly looking for connections. There are also programs out there that will allow you to better manage your WiFi, if you are adamantly against turning it off.
  • Bluetooth – see WiFi above – just insert “Bluetooth”; wherever, you see “WiFi”.

While this is not an all-inclusive list and there are surely other ways to preserve your battery, this should provide a good place to start.

Things your Parents didn’t tell you – Netbook or Tablet??

Are you like one of the many people I have spoken to recently, trying to decide what is the right device for you?  Do you need a very mobile device, but are not sure if you should go with the traditional Netbook or get caught up in the tablet hype?  Well, I can tell you first hand, I own both types of devices and there is a time and place for each of them.  What I hope to accomplish here, is provide a little bit more insight on the pros and cons for each.


What is it?   A netbook is a stripped down laptop that runs the same type of  operating system, your typical desktop or laptop runs.  Some netbooks these days are borderline laptops and vice versa, but generally a netbook sports a screen size between 10-13 inches, does not have any CD/DVD Drives and is less powerful, than your average laptop.  Netbooks are designed to provide portability and efficiency, hence the small screen sizes and less impressive specs.  They were originally targeted at people looking for a more economical  system that would allow them to surf  the web, check e-mail and perform basic pc tasks (ie.  MS Office).   Today, some netbooks are a bit more powerful, like the one I am typing on right now.  Mine houses a faster processor and graphic card, but comes at a price, specifically, greater cost and  6 fewer hours of battery power than your average netbook.  It’s all really personal preference.  The bottom line is a netbook is good for anything that will require you to type a lot and  jump between applications.  If you are like me and want to work remotely every now and then and need to link into another desktop or device, a netbook would provide the perfect blend of functionality and portability.  If you are a blogger, like some others you might know, and will be doing a lot of typing, a netbook would also meet these requirements. 


What is it?  It’s an iPad…okay, just kidding, obviously there are more tablets out there than just the iPad.  A tablet is a flat device with a touch screen that allows you to do various tasks.  It runs a mobile operating system, like iOS, Android, or WebOS.  What are these mobile OS I speak of?  Do you have a smartphone?  If so, you have a mobile OS on your phone.  As you already know, one of the advantages of how your phone operates is instant gratification.  Another words, as soon as you turn the device on, it is ready to serve you.  Even when you completely reboot the device, it comes back to life, ready to roll, fairly quickly….of course, unless you have  Blackberry…sorry RIM, but 11 minutes to reboot my Blackberry Storm 2 was never a fun experience (at least it was consistently always 11 minutes).   This leads me to one major advantages of a tablet – it’s always ready to go.  There are no long boot times.  If you are looking for a very portable device, that you can turn on and off without delay, the tablet could be for you.  If you have a smartphone, and love it, but find the screen too small, then the tablet is for you.  If you want that device you can sit on the couch and surf the web, the tablet is for you.  The tablet provides quick, on demand portability.  What it won’t provide is the ability to multi-task efficiently between applications or type well (although the tablet is making strides here with 3rd party products). 

Still confused on what this all means?  Here is the quick and dirty rundown: 



  • Fully functional OS – true multitasking and integration with other devices
  • Easier to type (for the most part)


  • Slower start-u whether full boot-up or just being “woken”
  • Harder to manuever, while in transit – opening and closing screen and typing..there’s a reason they are called laptops (and physically, other than size, a netbook is inherently a laptop)

Who would benefit most – users looking to work remotely, bloggers, students, people who want a more portable device to their laptop, economical alternative to a laptop or desktop replacement



  • “Always ready” – little wait to boot up and ready to serve when needed
  • Easier to use on the go – no keyboard and completely flat
  • Inherits same full functionality a desktop would have since it uses same OS


  • Multi-tasking between apps is very challenging
  • No keyboard built-in other than touch screen
  • functionality is limited since it runs on a mobile OS and not the same OS a full-blown desktop would run on

Who would benefit most – couch surfers (Internet), users who are looking for a personal assistant (portfolio) replacement, students (as a supplement to a netbook), workers in the field that normally carry client info (ie. sales, real estate, Dr,  etc.), e-readers who want the best of all the e-reading device world.

iPad is less “Spec”-tacular, but should remain more popular

As I have harped upon in my previous posts, the iPad 2 enhancements were predictable and anything but a technological breakthrough.  The mother of all Android tablets on the other hand, which at this moment is the Moto Xoom, has some impressive specs and features, which many are saying could give the iPad a run for its money.  While I agree, I would like to provide some reasons I believe the iPad will remain the leader in the tablet market.

  • Let’s start with cost.  What does the new iPad 2 really mean to the marketplace?  It means there will be plenty of original iPads to snatch up at a great value, whether it be by purchasing a new one discounted to clear out of inventory, or a used one on Ebay, Craigslists, etc.  The bottom line is the original iPad is still a cool device, far from being outdated and well worth the discounted price tag.  People who couldn’t afford the entry-level $500 price tag  to play with the next best innovative device, can now flock to get them at much more affordable price.   More iPads in the marketplace, means more buzz and demand for the devices, all while price points diminish.  It’s like the perfect storm!  (Certainly, the law of supply and demand states demand will cause prices to rise, but remember, they can only rise so high for the first generation iPad, with iPad 2 out there. )


  • The iPad might not look as techy as the Android, but that can actually be a good thing.  iOS can be viewed as “boring”, but boring can equate to simple, and when dealing with a technical device,  most people like simple.  Not to mention, the device is still a great looking experience!


  • Apple is already trusted and mainstream.  Ever play the game where I say a word and you have to immediately say what comes to mind?  Let’s play:
    • Phone…
    • Tablet…

             Did they both happen to start with “i”.

  • Verizon is promoting Apple products now and is not an Android exclusive shop (yes, there is also Blackberry, but when is the last time you happen to see a Verizon Blackberry commercial).  Verizon is a big player in the mobile world and advertising Apple along side Android, definitely helps Apple…at least a lot more than when they weren’t promoting Apple. 


Can others compete with the iPad – surely, as I have noted in previous posts.  I just don’t see it coming as soon as many might think.

Bold Predictions!

I would like to start off the week by presenting some of my predictions (pure speculation – no solid facts to back these folks) for the upcoming year, with regards to some key mobile devices:

iPad 2.5 – I see in my crystal ball, another incremental update around September of this year.  Included with the iPad Premium (aka 2.5) line will be increased memory options (say a 32, 80, and 128 gig’er), retina display, and possibly a USB port! 

iPhone 5 – thinner and larger.  Larger screens seem to be the cool kids of smartphones these days, so I expect a 4.0 inch screen, off-set by an overall thinner device.  I expect the iPhone 5 to be released by the end of this summer, but Verizon customers shouldn’t hold their breath for it, until at least 6 months after initial release. 

iPhone 4G – not sure when and I am pretty sure it won’t be the next iPhone 5 coming this summer, but it will happen and it will be Verizon to bring it first, to a 4G network close to you.  (If I had to predict a date – late next year, 2012)

Window Tablets – I have a netbook and I have an iPad.  The netbook still allows true multi-tasking, easy integration with other PCs and the file systems.  The iPad provides instant gratification, as it takes no time to boot up and is ready for me immediately – it lacks in the areas I mentioned the netbook was good.  If Microsoft can provide an innovative experience with their Windows tablet, they might have a shot into the market.  The only problem is they are now saying their devices won’t be out until 2012, which only allows the competition more time to give Microsoft a reason to put their tablets on clearance, shortly after their release. 

Blackberry Playbook – this is a tough one to call.  I personally don’t like it much, but I have not played with one,  so again only going with what I read and see online.  I read you can integrate with your BES account, but only if you have a Blackberry phone.  That’s annoying in my opinion.  Blackberry has always relied on the business and enterprise users and I see a lot of businesses working with the iPad right now.  Like Microsoft, the delay to market might have hurt Blackberry’s chances here. 

Android Tablets – from what I see, if you take away the cost, the Moto Xoom has a good chance to take on the iPad.  The problem is the cost.  I am not sure that many people are ready to pay that much for a tablet, especially when the mainstream product, the iPad, can be had for less.  Gadget geeks and highly intelligent tech people might disagree, but that is not the complete make-up of all the consumers these devices should be targeting, if you want to make an impact.  Speaking of the gadget geeks, right now, that’s where i see the Android market staying because….

The iPad will win the tablet battle this year and keep its lead in the tablet market.  Why you ask?  Look for my reasons, later today.

The Future of Mobility

The announcement of the iPad 2 kindled (not the Amazon one) something inside of me this week.  I have provided a few angles on the new iPad, but wanted to close out the week looking at how I view the future of the mobile market. 

Undoubtably, mobile devices have finally taken off and are becoming more mainstream.  What was once seen as a techy item, is being used by professors, business people, mothers, students, and even Grandma and Grandpa Joe. 

The evolution of the smartphone has taken a turn.  What was once a push for smaller is better has turned to a balance between functionality and size.  With the smartphone becoming more functional, allowing users to surf the web and watch movies etc, consumers started seeing the benefit to larger screens.   What we are seeing now is the advent of larger screen smartphones and tablets to satisfy the increased functionality.  A new strike between functionality and convenience.  

So what does the longer term future look like for smartphones and tablets.  Who will be the front-runner, and what will they need to do to stay on top.  Obviously, Apple is seen as the leader at this time, but can Android or even Blackberry catch up?  Keep in mind, when I present these questions, I am writing with regards to the US market.  The addition of the International markets would change everything and add some more players. 

Right now, I see the major US players in the mobile space as:

  • Apple
  • Google – Android
  • Blackberry
  • Microsoft

What do each of these players have to do, in order to stay competitive?  Well, for starters they need to continue to innovate and improve on their products, while keeping their costs down.  This is a given for all of the players above. 

Let’s look at the specifics for each player:


  • They need to open up.  They are too stuck on a proprietary mindset and this already got them in trouble in the 80s.  Add a USB port to the iPad, allow an SD port, let me see my files and folders and transfer stuff without using iTunes.
  • More product lines – the one reason the Android devices have better specs is because Apple only provides product upgrades once a year.  You want the next best iPhone, it could take 1-2 years.  With the Android, HTC is coming out with one phone, while Motorola is already working on the next best thing.  This keeps the product line fresh. 
  • Realize Google is for real.  I know no one has been able to touch the iPod, but Google has a good chance to make a run at Apple with phones and tablets.  According to Steve Jobs at the iPad 2 unveiling, iPad is 90% of the market today, but keep approaching it from a standpoint that no one can beat you and someone will…especially when it’s Google in the rearview mirror.


  • Push to become more mainstream and less techy.  Nothing wrong with techy people, I could be considered one of them, but a phone branded as “techy” for some is an automatic classification of “scary” for others.   Start marketing campaigns branding your products towards less tech oriented market segments.
  • Improve your security model.  This might be a difficult one since Google’s model relies on openness.  Education might be the best practice here or having a security program pre-installed might help reduce the risk. 
  • Lower your price points of your higher end products.  The Motorola Xoom was deemed the iPad killer.  I must admit, it looks pretty nice, but the price point is too high.  $600+ and I have to sign a contract with Verizon?  Apparently, a cheaper model in the $500 range will be released at Sam’s Club with only Wi-Fi, but when there are cheaper iPad options, who do you think will get the majority of the market?  Android is in the position where it need to impress and get itself out there, not price itself out of the market.  Think of Vizio TVs – they were high quality and in a lot of cases a better product, but the main way they got out there in the market and proved themselves was on price. 


  • Stick with what you are good at and appease your main market.  Blackberry is still alive because of the security and their seamless Enterprise integration.  Businesses that require tight controls, especially government related, will turn to the Blackberry.  For Apple and Android, they are out to appease the average consumer right now with new and innovative things.  Their models aren’t tied around security and in some cases, like I mentioned with the Android,  harbor less security.  For Blackberry, they are seen as lacking in innovation, but sometimes boring means stability and security. 
  • Don’t lose complete sight of innovation. 


I only mention them because I am sure they will make some kind of run in the mobile space, but they have a lot of catching up to do.  So did Apple in the 90s…

What about tablets?  Are they the future or a fad?  I think they can be the future, but they can fizzle out if not marketed properly.  The main way to keep the tablet heartbeat alive is to get it into the workforce; Seamless integration within the Enterprise.   This is key!

I have had my iPad for two weeks now and I love it.  I am also starting to realize everything I do on it, I can do somewhere else and better.  For example, it acts as an e-reader, but so does my Kindle and the books on my bookshelf.  It plays Netflixs, but so does my 65 inch TV.   It acts as a computer, but my netbook definitely is my device of choice when working or writing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but others might come to realize, they don’t really need it. 

If the tablet can get itself into the Enterprise workforce, it can prove that it is more than just a cool gadget.  I think this is achievable and already in the works in many places.  During the iPad 2 announcement, there were many examples of different professions using the iPad.  And now with the camera, the options are even greater.  Remember when we use to watch sci-fi shows with workers communicating with each other via tablets – can you say Facetime on the iPad!  The industry must continue to come up with more practical uses of tablets; otherwise, people are going to realize their smartphone does enough for them on the go.  If I had to bet on tablets continuing to be a future game changer, I would probably take the bet.