SkyMall Monday: Wrist Cell Phone Carrier

The older we get, the more forgetful we become. How many times have you misplaced your car keys? How often do you walk into a room and have no idea why you did so? If you had a nickle for every time you put your infant daughter on the roof of your car while you unlocked the door and then drove away with her still stashed up there, how rich would you be?

We all forget things from time to time. Whether it’s which pills to take, your own name or your alibi, it’s always embarrassing when your memory fails you. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than losing your cellphone. You could try calling it but it’s often your only phone. You can have a friend call it, but you won’t hear it because you probably also forgot your hearing aid. Eventually, you just have to curl up in a ball and wait for the cold hand of death to reach you.

Well, not anymore! Now, SkyMall has decided that lost cellphones are a problem that can no longer be tolerated. This scourge must be thwarted. Rather than rummaging through your purse, checking your couch cushions and using a jeweler’s eye to inspect your dog’s anal cavity, you’ll always know exactly where your cellphone is. It’s strapped to your wrist in the Wrist Cell Phone Carrier.Who knew that your wrist could prove so useful? Sure, you could place your cellphone in your pocket, purse or, if you’re a middle-aged white man, on your belt, but that would only be moderately convenient. You’re a person on the go and need your phone constantly at the ready. Pockets are linty. Purses are filled with tampons and crumpled up tissues that look used but that your mother insists are clean. And those holsters just make you look like a douchebag. Clearly, the wrist is the only place to store your cellphone safely and with class.

Think that wrists are only for watches and masturbating? Well, does SkyMall have news for you. Take a look at the product description:

This innovative accessory uses sturdy Velcro to insure the safety of your phone and has been extensively tested by active joggers, cyclists, skate boarders, fishermen, hunters and business people.

Is there anything more innovative than Velcro? Plus, apparently it provides insurance, which is something that even the President and Congress are having difficulty doing. I only wish we knew how race walkers felt about it.

What a relief that we’ll never have to worry about losing our cellphones again. Now we can focus all our energy on remembering, um, to, er, what was I going to say? Shoot. Cellphones…memory…then I wanted to tell you to…uh…pick up milk…take the blue pill…dang it. Whatever. Just get the Wrist Cell Phone Carrier and you can call your spouse. Lord knows that they’ll remind you of everything you forgot.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.


Gadling giveaway – 2 LG Vu phones with Mobile TV!

The LG VuThe LG Vu is a great phone for travelers. It has a 2 megapixel auto-focus camera with 2x zoom (for photos and videos), streaming radio capabilities, 3G speed, a large, 3″ touchscreen, and it’s equipped with Video Share (one-way live streaming video, meaning you can film something and the person on the other end of your call can watch), as well as AT&T Mobile TV.

AT&T’s Mobile TV is amazing for road trips, couples who can’t agree what to watch on TV in their hotel room, and basically any situation where you’re waiting for any period of time. Channels include CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile, FOX Mobile, FOX News, MSNBC, MTV, NBC2Go, Nickelodeon, CNN Mobile and Pix, and the service costs $9.99/mo as an addition to any existing AT&T plan. The LG Vu has it, and we have two LG Vus to give away!

You’ll have to get an AT&T plan to use them, but if you don’t already have one, you should know that AT&T has more coverage worldwide than any other network (click here for more info), and was recently honored as having the “Best Mobile Phone Coverage in the World” by Business Traveler Magazine. You can leave one of these at home with your honey and stream them a video of whatever you’re up to abroad; that service starts at just $4.99 per month.

To enter this contest, leave us a comment, telling us where you’re going next and what TV shows you’ll watch on the LG Vu.

Legalspeak:

  • To enter, leave a comment in the section below. You may only enter once. Our robots will delete multiple entries.
  • The comment must be left before December 24, 2009 at 5pm EST.
  • Approximate retail value per phone: $249.99.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing to receive two LG Vu phones. Cell phone service/contracts are NOT included in this offer. Sorry.
  • Winner will be notified by email.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.

Click HERE for complete Official Rules.

SkyMall Monday: Underwater Cell Phone System

Here at the SkyMall Monday headquarters, the motto is “Be Prepared…Always” I considered copying the Boy Scouts’ motto verbatim, but I just can’t support any organization that places so much emphasis on neckerchiefs. That said, I like to be ready for any situation, and thankfully the SkyMall catalog anticipates every situation imaginable (and some that only a person on a tremendous amount of hallucinogens could possibly consider). So, while some people are content with put their faith in maps, GPS systems and charts, I require a Plan D. I need to know that, at any time, I can contact my SkyMall Monday support team for assistance. As I often find myself 40 meters underwater and completely lost, I can’t be trying to read a soggy AAA TripTik with outdated notes about speed traps. No, I need real help. Thankfully, SkyMall anticipated this completely common and harrowing situation and responsibly chose to distribute a product that can help me when nothing else can. The next time I’m disoriented below sea level, I’m going to call the Gadling editors and ask for help on my Underwater Cell Phone System.Why would I need to make cell phone calls underwater, you ask? Well, besides my penchant for driving off of bridges, I also happen to do my best thinking while in a wetsuit. And when an idea pops into my head, I feel that it merits a phone call to share the news.

Case in point: Just last year, I was scuba diving and realized that it was time to break up with my girlfriend. I called her immediately and said, “Babe, we’re through. I met a mermaid down here and I think she’s the one.” Now, it turns out that the mermaid was just a manatee with two seductively-placed goiters, but I still think breaking up with someone warrants a phone call.

Don’t think that making phone calls from 40 meters below sea level is necessary? Well, I bet you also think that I don’t need to watch TV while in an elevator. You’re such a Luddite. Well, if you won’t take my word for it, listen to the wizards over at SkyMall:

With the Alpha UWCP, talk with someone 15,000 miles away while diving a tropical reef or in your pool! This complete and sophisticated communication diving system can do it.

It was just last week that I got completely lost and needed help to find my way home. Thankfully, my mother answered the call and told me that I was in the pool and simply needed to get out and walk inside. Now, if I can get lost just trying to find a comfortable place to urinate, you can imagine how desperately I need an Underwater Cell Phone System in my life. It’s anecdotes like this that make the system’s $1,790.00 price tag seem like an absolute peach of a deal.

So, the next time you set off on a road trip, don’t just pack maps and charge your GPS. Lakes, ponds and oceans are lurking everywhere, just waiting to swallow you whole. Only some quick thinking and speed dialing will be able to save you. Be prepared…always.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Samsung makes Memoirs with Helena Christensen

Helena Christensen and the Samsung MemoirAs of yesterday, the new Samsung Memoir is available through T-Mobile for $249.

The Samsung Memoir has an 8-megapixel camera, along with Xenon flash, CMOS auto focus and a 16x digital zoom. That’s pretty impressive. Secretly, that’s almost as good as the regular camera I use. It would be really handy if my phone were my regular camera. I long for the day when we kiss the USB cord goodbye — and I’d love not to have two similar-but-different things in my purse.

Anyway, as you can see, Samsung has Helena Christensen on board with the phone. She took a bunch of pictures with it in New York and Barcelona, and you can see them here, and you know what? Turns out this model can take a picture! Well done, Helena!

Hit up T-Mobile if you’re interested in the phone — oh, and it also has a music player, a full Web browser, a GPS navigation system and one of the most advanced touch screen phones in the world. Suck it, iPhone.

The top 10 ways to make phone calls when you are abroad

Welcome to the Gadling top 10 ways to make phone calls when you are abroad. This top 10 list will take a quick glance at 10 ways you can save on keeping in touch with people back home. It’s a well known fact that international calls are quite the racket, and making long calls back home can severely deplete your vacation spending money. Thankfully, technology has opened up all kinds of ways to save on your calls, and I’ll list the 10 that I think are the most important.

Your own phone

The most common way to make phone calls back home when you are abroad is of course to use your own phone with your own plan.

This is all fine and dandy if you only plan to call someone to let them know you arrived safely, but if you plan to keep in touch every time you see a cute giraffe walking down the street you’ll owe your mobile operator quite a lot of money once you arrive back home.

Before you start splurging on the newest technology, decide how often you plan to make a call, and compare the price of those calls with what you’d plan to spend on a nifty new way of making calls. If you only plan to make 20 minutes of calls back home ($20), then spending $50 on a new prepaid card may not be the best solution.
Prepaid mobile phone cards

When it comes to making cheaper mobile calls abroad, the prepaid SIM card is usually the first solution people think of. Prepaid SIM cards are more popular abroad than they are in the US, and you’ll usually be able to find a prepaid SIM card at any store, including kiosks at the airport.

A SIM card is the small chip you slide inside your phone to let your phone know who you are, and what your mobile number is. SIM cards are primarily used in the US by T-Mobile and AT&T (the GSM operators). Verizon and Sprint use a different system, but to make things complicated, they DO have some phones that are GSM compatible, and therefore use a SIM card.

One thing to keep in mind with any SIM card that takes the place of your regular SIM, is that your mobile phone has to be unlocked. You will need to contact your mobile operator to get your phone unlocked and not everyone will be eligible for a free unlock.

Before you consider using a prepaid sim card, it pays to research the rates of the different international operators. The differences in prices of calls back to the US can be staggering. A fantastic resource of all prepaid operators around the world is prepaidgsm.net. It may take 20 minutes to pick the cheapest mobile operator at your destination, but that time could easily save you $100.

For example; if you purchase a Vodafone prepaid sim card in the Netherlands, your standard rate for calls to the US is €0.75 per minute.If you purchased a KPN Mobile sim card, the rate is a whopping €1.45 per minute. With rates like that you’d be better off using your US phone instead.

Where? Anywhere prepaid mobile phone cards are sold
Price? “SIM Only” starter packs usually cost about $20, packs with a SIM card and a phone start around $40

Global roaming phone cards

Global roaming phone cards are not the same as prepaid phone cards – the technology behind them is the same, but these new cards are often issued out of countries with cheaper roaming rates, which allow you to carry the cheaper plan along with you, no matter where in the world you end up. One of the most popular cards on the market at the moment is the MAXroam sim card, offered by Cubic Telecom in Ireland (don’t worry, they’ll gladly ship to the US). The MAXroam sim card replaces the sim card in your current GSM based phone.

The rates on these cards are substantially lower than the rate offered by your own mobile operator. Per-minute rates from most European countries back home to the US are about $0.30.

Of course, you often can sometimes get even cheaper rates with a normal prepaid sim card, but the low rates on these global roaming cards means you won’t have to buy a new prepaid pack in every country you visit.

Another great advantage of these global phone cards is the ability to assign a normal US based number to them, which means you can give your friends and family an affordable way of contacting you when you are abroad, without them having to call an international number.

Where? Research global roaming cards at Prepaidgsm.net
Price? Starts at around $20

MagicJack

MagicJack is a tricky one; they offer a quality product, but cheapen the brand with horrible early morning infomercials and a never ending “buy within the next 4 hours” hard sell.

MagicJack is a $30 USB stick for your PC that provides unlimited local and long distance US calls. You will have to bring your laptop along with you if you want to make a call. Magicjack comes with a local US number, which means your friends and family won’t have to call a foreign number.

MagicJack also offers cheap international calls. I’ve been using MagicJack for some time now, and it’s never let me down. Of course, you will need to be connected to the Internet to get a dial tone. Calls can be made with a regular analogue phone, or by using a headset plugged into your PC.

Where? www.magicjack.com
Price? $39.99 (includes the MagicJack dongle and 1 year unlimited local and long distance phone calls)

Blackberry from T-Mobile

I’ve written about this option before, so I won’t go into too many details. The Blackberry Curve from T-Mobile (along with several other T-Mobile Blackberry smartphones with Wi-Fi) have the ability to roam onto Wi-Fi instead of a foreign mobile network. As long as you can get online, you’ll be able to make and receive phone calls. The advantage of this, is that as far as T-Mobile is concerned, you are “at home”, and will be able to take advantage of the local US rates or minutes included in your plan.

Of course, once you leave the Wi-Fi coverage, you are back on the expensive cellular network. T-Mobile is also the cheapest option for international data because they offer a $20 Blackberry flat-rate and unlimited plan for any email sent or received when abroad.

Where? T-Mobile.com or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Price? From as little as free on a 2 year agreement + monthly service charges

Skype

Skype is one of the most popular Internet calling applications on the market. It provides free Skype-to-Skype calls, as well as fee based calls to landlines and mobile phones. Skype is available for your computer, as well as several brands of mobile phones, and even on portable devices like the Sony Playstation Portable.

To make a Skype call when you are abroad, you’ll of course need Internet access.

Where? Skype.com
Price? Free Skype-to-Skype calls, $2.95/month for unlimited calls to US based phone numbers

Mobile phone add-on plan

Before you leave, be sure to call your mobile operator. You’ll want to do this for 2 reasons; first to make sure you are allowed to roam abroad, and second to ask whether
they have any international calling add-on plans.

These add-on plans don’t just apply to your regular mobile plan, many foreign prepaid cards also offer options to lower your per-minute rate for international calls. Using Vodafone in the Netherlands as an example again, their normal rate of €0.75 per minute for calls to the US can be lowered to just €0.30 by calling them and paying a one-time fee of about €10.

Where? Your mobile operator
Price? Starts at $5.95 (for example; the AT&T Wireless “World Traveler plan“)

Type, don’t talk

With roaming charges often as high as $4 per minute, it often makes more sense to send a written message instead of a spoken one. Many mobile operators offer add-on plans that add fairly large amounts of international data for as little as $20. Sure, an email may not be the most personal way of staying in touch, but at the end of the trip you’ll have a lot more money to spend on crap at the airport souvenir store than if you had made a bunch of phone calls.

Many mobile phones can be outfitted with instant messaging or Twitter clients that allow you to communicate in real time with anyone who has Internet access.

Just be sure to keep the data to a minimum as international data charges can be even more painful than phone call charges.

Where? Twitter.com or search for “mobile instant messaging client”
Price? From free

Picking the right roaming operator

When you arrive at your destination, your mobile phone picks the strongest signal it can pick up. This may not always be the cheapest provider. When your mobile operator negotiates prices with foreign operators, they won’t always get the same deal. A simple rule of thumb is to always try and stick with partners of your own operator, if you use T-Mobile in the US, pick T-Mobile in the UK and anywhere else you can find it.

Where? Check the international rates of your operator on their own web site.

Not making the call…

This one sounds pretty lame, I know. There is however some logic to it. Before you pick up the phone, always decide whether it’s really worth the money. Sometimes it makes more sense to just drop the folks back home an email. Just 15 years ago people survived fine without a mobile phone, and it can often be quite liberating to spend a week at the beach without the constant interruption of your Blackberry. I would not suggest leaving your mobile phone at home, as it always makes sense to have access in case of an emergency, but you do not need to keep your phone on 24/7.

One other tip to consider before leaving, is to turn off voicemail on your phone before you leave for your destination. If someone tries to call you abroad and reaches your voicemail box, you will actually pay the international rate for them to leave a message.

Do you have any other tips or ways you call the folks back home when you travel? I’d love to hear them, so please leave them in the comments!