Wednesday, July 21, 2010

a mobile device dilemma Part II

Since last December when I shared the small family crisis caused by the way the cellular industry has conspired to keep me off of Android a couple things have changed:

  • AT&T has begun to offer some good Android phones. I would seriously consider the Captivate for my use.
  • Rumors of Verizon taking on the iPhone persist. If that happened I could move the family over and my wife and daughter could stay on the iPhone while I could pick and choose from a wide variety of Android devices.

However, my decision continues to be complicated by the fluid nature of the service provider landscape. Now it is the emergence of higher bandwidth networks. For most of what I do on the mobile device a solid 3G connection gets the job done. But if I could get 2-10x the bandwidth via HSPA+ or LTE then should I wait until the right Provider/Device/Price comes along on one of those networks?
Because of the financial impact of disengaging my family from 3 two year contracts on AT&T my easiest option would be to stay with them and face a simpler choice:

  1. Wait until this September when I am eligible for an upgrade discount and jump on the Captivate and use 3G
  2. Wait until AT&T roles out HSPA+ in early 2011 and hope there is a nice Android device able to take advantage of that network.
  3. Wait until AT&T roles out LTE in 2011-12 and hope there is a nice Android device (by then it will have a 2GHz processor and an mega-mega pixel camera) able to take advantage of that network.

Obviously these three choices represent the constant agony of the early adopter... whatever is in my hand is obsolete and the nice new shiny gadget is always over the horizon. BUT that feeling is tempered by my frugal side so that I tend to upgrade about every two years. I am tending towards option 2 with some caveats:

  • Since AT&T has not announced any concrete steps or devices towards HSPA+ (unlike T-mobile) I am afraid early 2011 could easily become late 2011.
  • With AT&T moving off of an unlimited data plan, will HSPA+ carry a double premium? First a higher $/byte charge then 3G, and second, my natural tendency to play with the technology and do video conferencing on the device until my first monthly bill comes in (Ouch!).

Decisions Decisions.
What would you do?

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