• Going Google via Verizon: Final Review

    Several months ago my Palm Tungsten E died and I used it as an opportunity to migrate my contacts and calendar to Google. That was something I’d wanted to do for some time, but to make it work for me I needed to purchase a phone with web capabilities. That I did in July. Having now gained considerable experience using my LG enV®3 on the Verizon network and with a few billing cycles under my belt I can make a final report.

    First of all, I am pleasantly surprised that Verizon did not make any errors with my bills. The first month’s bill was, as expected, considerably higher than bills will be in steady state due to the mid-month transition. It is a bit unkind for Verizon to essentially double bill for some services in a transition month, but that is what they do, and I expected it. Fine. That’s like a one-time start-up cost.

    When I signed up for the new web service I was told that the second month’s bill would be higher than my old billing level by exactly the charge for the web access: $15. And indeed it was! Plus, the expected increase for my wife’s line, $10 for text messaging, was also correctly billed. I’m delighted at the time I’ve saved not having to fight Verizon for bill corrections, as I and countless others have had to do in the past.

    I’m also pleased with the phone, Verizon’s services, and Google’s mobile products. The whole package fulfills my needs and provides a great deal of additional functionality I did not have with my old Palm and non-web cell phone. I can now catch up on e-mail, the news, my RSS feeds, Facebook, and do some blog management all on my phone. That is very handy when I’m away from a computer for extended periods or when I wish to use my commute time (train ride) efficiently.

    Of course, I have a list of minor gripes. No product is perfect. Google and Verizon could both do a better job. Here’s how:

    Google. One annoyance I have is with Google News (mobile). It never remembers my settings and is constantly reverting to the default number of news items and categories.

    A second annoyance is with Google Calendar (mobile). It does not have a “jump to date” feature. So, to reach a date way in the past or future you have to keep clicking on the forward or back buttons. That’s a lot of stupid clicking. I have a few more grievances but they’re hard to explain and so minor I’ll overlook them.

    Verizon. My main beef with Verizon is the silly process required to get phone-captured photos or videos to my home PC. Despite having a USB connector, you can’t download photos or videos from the phone with it. You have to send them over the Verizon network to a Verizon-based repository. From there, you can’t simply download them. You have to e-mail them–individually!!!–to yourself if you want them on your PC. That whole process is far more time consuming than it should be. It is frustrating to have a pretty decent camera on my phone but no way to efficiently download a set of pictures. How dumb!

    As with Google, I have a few more extremely minor complaints about Verizon’s web service and/or how the phone works. They’re so trivial and hard to explain in words I’m not going to bother.

    (While I’m listing gripes let me pass along this one from David Pogue (hat tip: Ezra Klein): those “wait for the beep” outgoing messages on cell phone voice-mail. They are annoying, unnecessary, and we pay for them (via the lost airtime).)

    All in all, I’m very satisfied. It is $15/month (plus start up costs) well spent. I also really like having all my data on Google. No matter what computer I’m sitting at or where I am I can get it (provided I have internet and/or cell service). It is very convenient and increases my overall efficiency and productivity. Now I have even more time to write blog posts like this one.

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