2 April 2001

Shameless consumerism

Never let it be said that I’m not doing my bit to try and prevent a recession. This weekend it was time for a new mobile phone.

My old phone is a Bosch World 718. It’s a lovely phone; reliable, good sound, excellent build quality, adequate battery life, and works pretty much anywhere in Europe or the USA because it’s dual-band GSM. The only problem is, it’s 1996 technology, which means it’s the size and weight of a brick compared to today’s phones. Which in turn meant that I was less likely to carry it everywhere.

So, it was time for an update. I looked at the Ericsson T28w, another dual-band phone, but I must admit that I was put off by the fact that it has the highest radiation levels of any phone on the market.

As a skeptical scientific type, I know that there is zero evidence that cell phones cause cancer. In fact, there’s a scientist at MIT who regularly exposes herself to insane quantities of microwave radiation. During WW2, sailors would stand in front of the emitters on cold nights to keep warm. If EM radiation caused cancer, we’d have seen some pretty horrific cases by now.


I also wasn’t entirely convinced by the T28 flip mechanism. Especially when I saw that the one in the store had broken off. In the end I settled on a Nokia 8290—about the same size, but a quarter of the radiation, and it has a bunch of features which are nice to have, albeit not essential.

First off, the 8290 has no external antenna. This helps when keeping it in a pocket. It’s actually small enough to just stuff into the pocket of my jeans, which is amazing.

Secondly, the 8290 has IR support. You can beam phone numbers, SMS messages and other data between a PalmOS handheld and the phone. If I wanted to pay more, I could even get wireless web and e-mail access.

And finally, the 8290 has replaceable faceplates. That seems frivolous, but it means that when the front of the phone gets scratched up from being in your jeans pocket all the time, you can just get a new plastic faceplate.

I also like the fact that I can now set access control for incoming calls, and have predefined settings for different places. So I can put the phone in a pre-defined “meeting” mode, where only certain people are allowed to disturb me, and the phone vibrates without ringing. I also got a handsfree headset for free, but I haven’t tried it yet…

I’m still keeping the Bosch for when I travel to the EU. But for the 99% of the time that I’m in the USA, the Nokia’s a much better solution.

© mathew 2017