Friday, October 4, 2013
Until now there was never a reason for me to get a smartphone. There's no cell phone reception at my house, as we are snuggled up the side of small mountain -the wrong side. As I'd still need a land line for the home, a smartphone is an expense I could not justify.
We've been using a cheap $10 Tracfone for travel. When were broken down in the middle of the Everglades, it was great to be able to call a tow truck. Once in a while we'd make a phone call to check in with family and friends.
One of my daughter's upgraded to an iphone 5 and she gave me her iphone 4. Recently, I bit the bullet and paid to activate it. Because I own the phone, I don't have to have a contract. Instead I'm paying by the month. When we get back from our trip in the spring, I'll reassess our communication needs.
Not that many years ago there were a lot of open wifi signals. While there are more of them now, most are protected. Even with a wifi signal booster, it's often impossible to find an open signal. Then there are all those places completely out of wifi range, but still in reach of a cell tower.
The smartphone can act as a wifi hot spot. I'll be able to connect my computer to the Internet through the phone. Sure beats using my big gorilla thumbs on a tiny iphone keyboard. One goal is to be able to keep updating this blog while on the sailboat.
Another daughter and her family gave me a Snowlizard case for my phone. It's waterproof to 2 meters, has a backup battery that more than doubles cell phone life, and even has a solar charging panel. Suddenly the phone is a real boating tool.
Sure, I can take pictures with the phone and not worry about getting it wet. That's nice, but the apps available really extend its function. I've a app for local tides, which is always good to know. Active Captain has an app. Combined with Gulf and Atlantic electronic charts, it's a real navigation device.
That doesn't replace my charts, compass, Garmin GPS, VHS marine radio, or my backup weather radio. It is one more way to do things, and redundancy is always nice. Navigation is mission critical, so anything that adds to that is a help. Of course, none of those things replace actually looking around to see what's going on. It would be silly to get run over by a tanker while watching the pretty little screen.