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Upgrade part two

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Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! First I wanted to start with a couple of thank yous — No. 1 going out to all of the Tech Savvy fans! I have had the opportunity to meet some of you and it is very humbling to know that you read the column and I hope that this information is helpful to you, thank you for your support!

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I’d also like to thank Mills Ford for having us be a part of their Tech Afternoon during their Tent Event on Thursday. I was there with a great group of other tech experts including representatives from our Tech Savvy Sponsor CTC, and also folks from Faster Solutions, Tom’s TV and Best Buy. We had a great afternoon, questions were answered and some neat gadgets and ideas were shared. Mac with BL Broadcasting was also there and we all got a turn practicing our radio voices. All in all it was a lot of fun!

During the event I had someone come visit with me and they had some great questions about upgrades and what they should take into account when they are looking at new devices and options. I thought this would be a great time to revisit some of the common and new things to keep in mind when looking at new devices. It’s also good timing as my wife has decided to finally take the smartphone plunge with her new upgrade, so it’s something I’ve been looking at already.

The main question that came up was why. Why should anyone consider upgrading to a smartphone or tablet, or deciding to get rid of their laptop for a tablet? For this I tend to use myself as an example. Tech experimentation aside, my motives were pretty simple for my upgrade choice — I wanted to be more mobile and have access to more files in more places. My smartphone and tablet combination allowed me to do that where my laptop limited me in a lot of ways. Since I started using my Brydge+ keyboard (www.thebrydge.com) I began using my laptop less and less up to the point now where I haven’t used it in months. The main tradeoffs, that had prevented me from making the switch before, was the size of local hard drive space and the lack of USB option for iPads. Let’s take a look at those two pieces. The main reason for both of those really are accessibility to stored files- whether they are on my “desktop” or on a flash drive. The solution is also one that a few years ago I would have been hesitant to use — Cloud Storage. I’ve written about that before, but we have incorporated it for business now and pairing that with my personal use before and it is now a flawless operation for accessing any and all files whether I’m on the go or not.

Another nice feature about Cloud is there is more than one option — which essentially lets me treat each service as a separate hard drive. I can use one for photos, one for documents, and another for shared files without having to worry about mixing them. Because cloud files are also accessible I’ve actually become grateful that I don’t have to cart around all my extra stuff. Win.

Another question that led off from that then was if they were looking at upgrading to a tablet ... should they upgrade to a smartphone at the same time. I prefaced by saying that while it was not 100 percent necessary, it should certainly be something they take into consideration. The main benefit of having both a tablet and a smartphone is their ability to access the same information. A good example is calendars. My wife, up to this point, has always used a printed wall calendar that takes up to three feet of wall space. It works, she has always used them, and it sits in plain view where everyone can see what’s going on. But, there’s a problem. Me. I don’t use a wall calendar; whenever I have an appointment I just enter it on my phone while I’m making it, set an alert and then promptly forget about it until my alert goes off. This drives my wife crazy. I secretly think this is a major factor of her getting a smartphone — so at least now she’ll know when I have an event to be at with more than a 10 minute notice. On the other hand, as I have been explaining how I use my calendar and how we can use them jointly, she has started to come around to the idea. Not only being able to see what is going on, but to invite each other to events — play dates for our kids, dinner with friends, and tons of other things that we can now track and confirm in a matter of minutes instead of waiting to “get in front of the calendar.”

That being said, you do not need to upgrade your phone at the same time, but if you are getting the tablet because you want to stay connected ... you will then either need to keep it with you all the time, or upgrade your phone. I like having both because I don’t always feel like carrying a 10-inch tablet with me, sometimes it’s nice to just grab my phone put it in my pocket and go.

Of course, this last question brought up the most asked question I get from new device prospects — What OS should I go with? Apple? Android?

Well, to each their own and you need to find what works for you. How’s that for a vague answer? But quite honestly, that is what you need to look at. Each OS has its own benefits for different reasons and they definitely suit different people. I consider myself fortunate that I have both an iOS device and an Android device because it gives me the freedom to experiment and play around with the different features of each. Realistically though it’s much easier to stick to one OS and use that across the board. It keeps processes familiar and there is less confusion about the capabilities of your combined devices. I always tell people that if they get the chance they should really get to a store and get their hands on the devices and actually use them a little bit to see which style suits them best. When you do go, don’t just check out all the neat features that are listed — they are always icing on the cake things. Make sure you check, and try, the processes you are going to use on a daily basis — send a text message, make a phone call, browse the email app — make sure you can identify the icons and information on the layout. The last thing you want is to have a device that you “kinda-sorta” know how to use, but can’t figure out all the buttons.

Finally, we talked a little about partner plans. I have Verizon Wireless for my service and I have never had problems with the service, the network, or the people. Their plans are pretty easy to navigate too, and one trend you are seeing across the board is shared plans. For Verizon it means the Share Everything plan, which basically is a revision of their Family Talk plan which rolled everything into one big pot and each line on the account drew out of it. What’s changed is the addition of the data plan — which is now part of the Share Everything. The only thing I will caution about these shared plans is: do the math and make sure that you are getting value out of the plan. For example, based on our account, if we had just my smart device on the Share Everything, but my wife’s phone as a standard, then there is no additional savings. However, if she upgrades to a smartphone, then with all of our devices then it will make sense to look at the Share Everything plan for some savings.

Long story short, there is no single answer to make you upgrade, there are always multiple factors that you have to take into consideration, but for me what it boils down to is convenience, mobility, and total accessibility.

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