This week, I’m reporting from Europe. I write this as I prepare to embark on a cruise ship, and this will be the first time in a week that I’m without anywhere Internet. I’ve been a user of mobile smartphones for several years, but found the jump to the BlackBerry Tour to be the best move I’ve made.
As soon as I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, I was able to check my voicemail, and more importantly all my e-mail accounts. This was a true godsend. As I often travel for work, I’ve been the kind of individual that felt the need to constantly dash to cyber cafes and to Wi-Fi hotspots to check my e-mail, see that my stories posted, and basically see that my digital ducks were in a row. As a freelance writer, there is really no such thing as a vacation. So even when I’m on the road for pleasure, some work is involved.
This time I’m doing some research for a future book, and couldn’t rely on just occasional visits to a cyber caf?; hence the jump to the latest BlackBerry. And I couldn’t be happier. My wife is also accompanying me on the trip, and we found that the BlackBerry Tour works as well for a man as a woman. I’ve been able to use the BlackBerry Web browser to check in to confirm that my various articles have posted. And while I have to agree that the browser isn’t the most robust one out there, it works reasonably well.
More importantly, the Tour supports up to 10 e-mail accounts, and while I have about half that many, it is nice to be able to check my e-mail while waiting in lines or while resting my tired feet. But best of all, most smartphones—not just the BlackBerry—provide excellent means to communicate beyond actually making phone calls. While many smartphones are full-fledged world phones (the Tour included), the rates can range from pricey to downright expensive. An alternative is to use Google Talk, or in the case of the Tour, BlackBerry Messenger. This IM system is excellent for sending a quick message between users.
The point is that the world is getting smaller and smartphones are making it easier to connect. While it still is expensive to call landlines or even mobile phones in the states while traveling in a distant land, at least there are alternatives. And actually, mobile devices could help lower the costs. This is because of partnerships through networks, so that the so-called “termination” fee could see its end (at least with mobile). Basically, this isn’t the fee for ending a call, but rather is the cost that a carrier charges for connecting the call to another network. And this is why long distance calls have always been expensive.
International mobile still remains expensive because it is akin to roaming, but roaming really, really far from home. However, as I mentioned, I’ve found a few ways of staying connected, just a bit cheaper. And while I’ve tested many phones while traveling the world, the technology just keeps getting better.