After a lot of thought -- and especially since I'm not making the New Hampshire trip -- I gave up on the idea of getting a TwitterPeek. I find the device attractive (especially with the lifetime service option), but it does only one thing, and I'd prefer to do as many things as possible with one device.
QWERTY keyboard -- check.
1.3 megapixel camera instead of the VGA my old phone has -- check.
Reasonable pre-paid phone and text message rates -- check.
It even does video, but my understanding is that's fairly lo-res. I'll find out -- it would be a nice bonus to be able to present film at 11.
I really, really love my current pre-paid cell phone provider (PagePlus Cellular), but they don't offer this phone. I'm getting it from Net10. Their talk minute rates are the same (10 cents) as PagePlus's and their text rates are cheaper (5 cents for most phones, 3 cents for this one).
The only down side is I have to refill a little more often to keep the phone active, but I think the numbers match my actual usage enough that that won't be a real drain (and as long as you keep the run going you don't lose the minutes you buy -- they build up for later, busier times).
List price from Net10, $79.99 plus taxes and shipping. The review linked above includes $8 worth of discount codes, and Net10 is running a free 3-day UPS shipping deal right now, so it came to $79.85 total. That includes 300 minutes and 60 days of service, which at Net10 rates means the phone came in below $50.*
Apart from the fact that it's good to have a phone (Tamara will be adopting the old one -- she doesn't like using cell phones regularly but it's good to have one for emergencies), I expect this to be a workhorse for covering events like the Libertarian National Convention in May and an Alliance of the Libertarian Left event that may happen this summer in mid-Missouri. I can Tweet (or moblog), TwitPic, CinchCast, and maybe even present video from one reasonably compact device, with QWERTY comfort instead of slogging through numeric keypad combos. I'll try to have a laptop and possibly a better video camera (borrowed from the kids) available in case of need, but I have the feeling this is going to get the job done.
I've been hankering to get back into something resembling reportage/journalism for some time. Back in the old days when I first became involved in newspaper journalism, "meeting deadline" meant attending an event, taping or taking notes of interviews, snapping pictures with a 35mm camera, dropping the film off (or hitting the darkroom), typing the story on paper (in my case, the typewriter wasn't even electric at first!) and submitting it to an editor.
Obviously the Internet has changed that. Events can, and normally should be, covered in something close to real time. Live video is the ultimate, of course, but photos and text are expected in minutes, not days. Now I'm getting equipped to make that happen. Cool.
* Shortly after ordering this phone directly from Net10 for about $80, I found it at Walmart.com for $59.99 -- including not only the 300-minute card, but an accessory kit that Net10 charges $15 for. I'm still awaiting a response from Net10 as to whether they'll match their own vendor's price.
Update, 03/20/10: Meant to blog this earlier. Net10 said no dice on matching their vendor's price. I think that's bad business, but I'll live. The service also has some issues (I'm unable to set up voice mail, and the web/email features aren't working), but when I finally got around to calling live customer service (as asked to do when I filed support tickets online), they were professional, patient, and are now at work on those issues. The hardware's sweet, the price ain't bad ... if the issues get fixed, I'll be staying with them.