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):

GeoQpons

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.

  

Coupons

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.   

 

Foursquare

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!

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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)

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.

Netbook

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. 

Tablet

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: 

Netbook

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

Tablets

Pros

  • “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

Cons

  • 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.

iUpgrade?

I have been getting a lot of questions from friends on whether they should make the switch to Verizon’s iPhone.  While some of them are on AT&T, most are already Verizon customers, wondering if this is a good time to upgrade.  In a previous post, I made some compelling reasons (at least I thought they were compelling), to not necessarily get a Verizon iPhone.  Let me restate what I meant by that post and go into a little more detail.  I do not believe it is the right time for me or someone who is like me, to get a Verizon iPhone.  I am not saying no one should run out and get one.  In fact, I am ecstatic that the iPhone is finally on Verizon’s network, and it took every bit of energy not to pull the trigger on ordering one, during the pre-sale.  So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and find out if the iPhone is right for you.

 When I say it is not the right time to upgrade to the iPhone 4, let me say, I believe it is just not the right time to upgrade…period.  There are so many things going on in the mobile world right now and with the Mobile Congress coming up in Barcelona next week, I expect a ton of new devices announced.  Here is what I expect in the coming months:

  •  A new line of Android devices – we already know about the Thunderbolt and Bionic, both supposedly coming to Verizon’s 4G, but there is also chatter about a new Moto Droid and HTC Incredible.  In addition, Sony is set to announce the Xperia, which is an Android based phone setup to play like a PSP. 
  • iPhone 5 – I am not necessarily convinced Verizon will offer the iPhone 5 when it is released, but it is rumored to be coming to a service provider near you this summer.  I expect it to hit AT&T first, but it would only be a matter of time before it is on Big Red. 
  • 3G vs. 4G – I emphasized how putting the iPhone on the 3G network was a good move for Verizon.  I am not sure if it would have been even feasible getting a 4G iPhone manufactured at this stage of the game, but I’ll give Verizon credit regardless of the true motive.  With so many people moving to the Verizon iPhone, I expect some risk of Network overload.  I am not saying Verizon will crash or have major problems, but I expect minor bottlenecks and slower transmission rates, especially in very populated areas.  On the other hand, while the masses move to the iPhone, there will be these high powered, state of the art Android devices on the new 4G.  Hmm…Faster network, less capacity – sounds pretty tempting to me. 
  • Timing – in a few months, we should all have a lot more information to make a better decision.  There are so many rumored devices coming to the market that if you take the plunge now, you might regret that decision before you’re even 4 months into your contract.  It’s possible that when all the smoke clears and you have all the relevant facts, you decide to still get an iPhone 4.  What did it cost you – a few months?  A few months for the opportunity to make a better sound decision – that’s not asking for a lot.

So who should upgrade to the iPhone now and never look back?

  • You don’t need to have the latest and greatest.  You’re just going to be happy to have an iPhone on Verizon.
  • You don’t care about upgrade costs – no one is saying you can’t buy an iPhone 4 now and then upgrade to the 5 when it comes out.  It will just cost you hundreds of dollars more to do so.  
  • You still have a flip phone.  Let’s face it,  any smartphone on the market is going to make you feel empowered. In addition, if you still have a flip phone, then I am pretty sure the first bullet also applies to you.   Go for the current iPhone, ease your way into the crowd and feel confident you made the right choice.  

 For those who decide to get the Verizon iPhone (or have already gotten one), I congratulate you on your new device.  I am sure you won’t be displeased with it.  For those who decide to wait, be patient, and be sure to check out this site for all the upcoming rumors and my take on some of the new devices coming to the market.

It’s official – iPhone 4 to Verizon!!!!!

The much-anticipated announcement of the iPhone 4 on Verizon’s network was officially announced today at an 11am Verizon press event! 

*****UPDATE*****

So after taking in the news for a bit and reading some more details on the iPhone release, officially set for February 10th, I have some thoughts. 

3G vs. 4G

As many might know, Verizon was very excited this past week at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) to announce their new LTE network (4G – latest and greatest – in a nutshell – faster!) and all the new devices that will reside on the network this coming year.  Verizon announced a bunch of Android phones that would be released on LTE.   Unlike these devices, the iPhone will not be released on 4G, which actually doesn’t surprise me.  Let’s face it, people are going to run out and buy the iPhone for the phone itself and not care what network it is on.  Why not keep it on the 3G network, which is proven and let the new Android phones go on the 4G network, allowing the network to grow at sustainable levels and creating a nice load balance.  This allows the iPhone hype to settle and keeps some people who might have considered the iPhone, but had an Android, loyal to Android, since they can reap the benefits of the 4G network.  I expect the iPhone to go 4G eventually (likely will require a new phone), once 4G is more mature, but for now 3G is the smarter choice. 

AT&T Loyal

People who stick it out with AT&T might see improvements in their performance.  With some estimates coming in as high as 30% for AT&T users that might migrate to Verizon, this might actually help AT&T in the end.  If AT&T has 30% less usage volumes (pure speculation), then network performance should prosper.  Verizon users might actually take a hit and see  degradation in their performance with the increased traffic, but my hope is Verizon took this into consideration.  Bottom-line, things will level off with users finding the provider that suits them best. 

I look forward to the coming weeks to see how the iPhone hype on Verizon plays out.  If you are in the market for one, be sure to go onto Verizon Wireless’ website and sign-up for updates.

Verizon iPhone release date Feb. 3rd?

According to multiple articles posted on BGR.com, Verizon and Apple will likely release the iPhone on February 3rd. There are reports of Apple employee vacation blackout periods and extra staffers being scheduled for the period between Feb 3-6.  This follows in line with the way the iPhone 4 release was handled.

I will try to post the links to those articles a bit later, but if you check out bgr.com, you should be able to find them.

There is also mention of iPad 2 being CDMA compatible (Verizon), which has always been the speculation.

Verizon to finally announce the iPhone???

+

 ????

Multiple sources are reporting a major press conference in NY to be held by Verizon on Tuesday Jan. 11th.  While there is no solid proof (that I could find), insiders working with the WSJ seem to be confirming this is the announcement everyone has been waiting for with regards to the iPh0ne on Verizon’s network.  If you have been waiting, your patience might finally pay off!

http://www.androidcentral.com/verizon-announce-iphone-jan-11th – event details posted on androidcentral.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704739504576068170230339348.html?mod=e2tw – WSJ article, which comes across quite confident that this is it!

Apple to Verizon – Another Blue’s Clue?

Apple TV is showing 2 new iPhone models in the firmware.  This is pure speculation, but could one be a CDMA model (Verizon or Sprint)? 

http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2010/09/28/two-new-iphone-model-names-make-cameo-in-appletv-firmware/

Blackberry announces its answer to the iPad

RIMM’s (Blackberry) answer to the iPad.  They definitely might have a chance in the corporate market, but I am still giving the edge to Apple.  If nothing else, this forces Apple to become more competitive with their pricing model.  Curious what RIMM’s pricing structure will look like for these devices. 

See link below:

http://crackberry.com/blackberry-playbook-announced

More clues that pair Verizon with Apple?

So it is no secret that I believe the iPhone is coming to Verizon by the first quarter of 2011.  I have referenced the large order of CDMA equipment by Apple and a “gut” feeling, but now I think there are some more clues that can help my claim.  According to the Boy Genius Report (http://www.bgr.com/), the following has been reported:

  • There are now rumors that a second generation iPad will be released by early quarter 2011.  Again, another prediction of mine, although I thought it would be closer to Q2 2011.  While many are saying this iPad will be equipped with the forward facing and traditional cameras, what better time to introduce your CDMA Verizon version of the iPad.
  • Windows 7 phones, set to release later this year are not going to be released at launch on Verizon’s network.  Why would you want to deal with a whole other headache (Microsoft phones), when you know you already have a juggernaut on the way!  Verizon claims they will eventually get the Win 7 phones, which I believe, but this is not the right time. 
  • LTE is coming this fall.  The LTE network, also known as the 4G network is the upgrade to the current 3G network, which Verizon Smartphones are utilizing.  Without going into any details, 4G is suppose to be a major upgrade to the 3G network.  Given I think the iPhone will be a 4G phone (and best used on a 4G network), the timing makes complete sense.  Activate the new network later this year, work out any kinks and be ready for the iPhone mega release!