by Sean McCallum
I had an MP3 disc player for some time and got great use out of it - mostly in the car through a cassette adapter. If I were wearing
clothes with big enough pockets, I’d walk around with it too. Its own bulk, along with that of the stack of disc I carried with me was a hassle. Burning a new disc each time I wanted new sounds was both expensive and environmentally
unsound. Nobody I knew needed that many new beer coasters, so I decided that I needed a new non-disc MP3 player.
For the past couple of years, I’ve also been pining for a digital camera that takes good pictures and won’t break my budget. I have 4-year-old son, so I always have a great personal
need to capture his image at any given time. I received two cameras as gifts at different
times and they were both off-brand, bargain
models. One of them took terrible-looking photos and the other stopped working as soon as the warranty expired. It was almost as if it had its own doomsday clock. While it did work, my camera was cumbersome to carry around, so I seldom had it with me when I needed it.
Then one day I dropped my janky, ancient Nokia 3125 on the sidewalk and the casing shattered. The sound of it breaking was like angels singing. The stars had aligned. I hated
that phone since the day I got it. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with it, it was actually a very functional little squawk box. It’s just that I had dreamed of customized ringtones, full color displays and a sleek, elegant
design that said (in a silky, smooth Barry White voice) “Is this watcha wont?” Instead I got an Atari 2600 in an XBox world that woke me up in the middle of the night sounding like a robotic rooster singing “This Old Man” while being murdered with a hatchet. Plus, it was so small that I invariably got a neck cramp after
two minutes of talk time. When it finally broke, I was a little surprised that I hadn’t done it intentionally.
I began flipping through the gadget ads in the Sunday paper to see what new-fangled phones were available, and found a sale on the Samsung SYNC SGH-707 MP3 phone. The ad said that it contained a 2-megapixel digital
still and video camera and had awesome internet capabilities. When I signed a new two-year AT&T contract, the phone was only $60. In my past experience, any device with that many features for such a low price was worth its weight in poodle poo, so I figured that Smokey’s mama was right when she said, “You better shop around.”
I did some pretty thorough research on the web and found that for a phone with an MP3 player, a good quality digital camera and a low price, people seemed happiest with the SYNC. It has been available for almost a year now and doesn't appear to have shown any major defects. In addition, my wireless provider offered it for only $50 with a two-year contract renewal, so I went for it.
Of course, as soon as I had it out of the package,
I realized that I would need some accessories
for it, so I went to Amazon.com and purchased
a Bluetooth earpiece, car charger, PC data cable for speedily synchronizing my Windows
Media Player playlists, a couple of 2GB SD micro memory modules (with free PC card reader) to store pictures, music, video, etc. and a headphone adapter. The accessories ran me about twice as much as the phone itself, but now I can do all those things I’d been dreaming
about, without having a different device in every pocket.
I recommend this phone to anyone who doesn’t have the dollars to spend on something in a Blackberry or Treo. My only real complaint
about the SYNC is that the user interface
is not entirely intuitive and is only slightly customizable. Commands are often not on the particular menu you’d expect to find them in and you occasionally have to select items with a different button than the usual one. I frequently
find myself bounced out to a previous menu and having to find my way back to the one I need, but I imagine that after using the same features a number of times, using the SYNC will become second nature.