Motorola VE-20 - The Best Cell Phone, Excellent Voice Recognition, Cheapest Prices
My New Motorola VE-20
Cell Phone Avoidance
For years, I steered clear of cell phones. I like gadgets, and tech toys, but just thought cell phones too extravagant. Then Monique and I met, and suddenly, I had a cell phone. Of course, all the cool stuff immediately caught my fancy. Started sporting a bluetooth on my ear, playing music mp3s, even put mp3 files in as ringtones. Had all kinds of fun.
My VE-20 Playing Galaxy Quest
The Actual Image Quality I Get On The VE-20
The Coolest Geek-Friendly Feature of Cell Phones
Then one day, playing with the features, it hit me... if my phone can shoot video, and record it, then it has to be stored as a file somewhere on the phone. Even better, somewhere, somehow, there had to be a way to take movies from my computer, and make the phone play them!
I won't go into more detail about that, because I already wrote a hub specifically outlining how to play movies on your cell phone. To read that, click here:
How To Play Movies On Your Cell Phone
For the record, the two videos on the right are the same ones from the hub about playing movies on cell phones. They just seemed appropriate to include here.
Also as an aside - This page talks about the features I want and use, and how the VE-20 performs them. For more technical details, click on the Amazon link below for the Motorola VE-20. They have the full list of features and abilities there:
VE-20 and Accessories
Just to be above-board here- I have a brief review of the VE-20 at Amazon. I used my Crewman6 ID. I like my phone, and want people to know... but I'm not trying to fool anybody! :^)
Good For More Than Making Phone Calls
The point is, you can have a lot of fun with these high tech toys. They're good for a lot more than just making phone calls.
I really liked my first one, though it was pretty primitive compared to today's phones. It was a Motorola. Until recently, it was the only phone I've owned that could get a signal way out in the swamp where my folks live. My second cell phone was more sophisticated, though not perfect. I considered it serviceable. It was little better than the basic budget phone you get for $29.99 or cheaper when you sign up.
My Previous Phone
The LG Swift - Good Features, Poor Implementation
The one I've been using for the last year or two was an LG Swift. It had some nice features, but didn't implement them very well. Reception was constantly a problem, as was too low volume. Bluetooth earpieces are already hard enough to hear through (yes, I'm a bit hard of hearing. Goes with the hard head.) Combined with a very low volume output, this phone had me constantly asking people to repeat themselves. Major drag. I was always going "Say that again- I can't hear you!"
After a while, I just pretend I can hear what they say. Even though it backfires on me sometimes, it was just too bothersome to keep asking for repeats.
Bad Voice Recognition
My Biggest Complaint About The LG Swift
I think my biggest ongoing fight with it had to do with voice recognition. It may have the feature, but it certainly lacked the ability. I'd say "Call Home." It would answer "Did you say... Call Nickel?" I'd say no, and we'd go round again. How does "Home" sound like "Nickel?" On top of that, the name it was trying to pronounce was Nichole, not Nickel.
When it wasn't asking me about Nichole, it would make up names that aren't even in my contact list. Now how does it do that? I'm convinced this phone just plain didn't like me. So I fixed it's wagon - I changed the word from "Home" to "Home you stupid phone".
Now, when I call home, I say "Call Home, you stupid phone."
It hesitates for a long time, because it hates having to repeat that. Then, very reluctantly, it says "Did you say, Call Home You Stupid Phone?"
I smile, and say "Yes... Yes, I did." While this usually works, sometimes the phone still offers to call Nichole instead. I can appreciate how it feels; Nichole is smart, young, and incredibly easy to talk with. But I'm trying to call home, and it's annoying.
Alltel Landing Page
The Problem Customer... Me!
Recently, my contract with Alltel ran out, and they offered me a bribe to sign back up. Big discount on most any phone I want. I did my due diligence, spent hours checking out phones on the net, only to feel overwhelmed at the end, with no clear choice. So I reversed the problem. Made a list of the features I wanted, called an Alltel salesman, and made him earn his keep that day.
Alltel - My name is Kevin, how may I help you today?
Me - Hi, my name's Alan. I want to buy a phone. I'm going to be a problem customer.
Alltel - Brief hesitation - I'll be glad to help you. What makes you think it'll be difficult?
Me - I couldn't choose a phone from online reviews. I have a list of features I want, and I want you to tell me what you've got that matches my list.
And The Winner Is...
My Cell Phone Wish List
Now, my list is long. Kevin asked me to read it out. Below is exactly what I read to him:
- Hearing aid compatible
- Excellent sound quality with loud volume
- Stereo Bluetooth capable
- Expandable memory: between 4 - 16G sd card
- USB connect
- Play wide variety of video formats (wmv, mpeg4, 3GP)
(The last 4 list items are aimed at letting me install my own movies)
- Play mp3 music files
- Custom, user-installable mp3 ringtones. I want to put MY mp3's from MY computer directly on the phone. No gimmicks, no tricks, no downloading. No paying Alltel to install a song for me.
- Long battery life/talk time (maybe can buy extended life battery?)
- Good-sized screen, high # of displayable colors
- Clock Alarm
- Voice dialing (good speech recognition- no fighting over the word "home."
- A good sturdy phone that won't break or wear out in 3 months time.
- No smart phone... they require a more expensive contract, and I don't want my monthly bill to go up.
Pretty Tech Savvy For My Age
Kevin was a good sport, and fun to work with. Partway down the list, he said "You're pretty tech savvy for your age!"
Hmm... for my age? Sometimes you just gotta laugh. I took it as the compliment he intended. Monique was listening (I was on speaker) and she laughed too. She can afford to laugh, she's younger than me.
About halfway down the list, he said "I didn't know you could do that!"
Shortly after that comment, he asked me how you put video on a cell phone. We took a break from shopping, so he could get the cliff notes instructions. Then it was back to shopping.
The Accessory Pack
The Clear Winner- Motorola VE-20
Kevin did good. He found about 3 phones to offer me. I checked out the online reviews while we talked, which he thought was cool. Didn't like the first phone. The second phone was the same model he uses, the Motorola VE-20. The third phone was basically a dumbed down version of the same thing.
The VE-20 was the clear winner. I checked some reviews, liked what they said, ordered the phone. And yes, I really like this phone. My Motorola VE-20 does every single thing I requested. The only hitch came with making my mp3's into ringtones. That was a bit of a hack to make work, and I'm limited to 30-second tones, but that's acceptable. At least I can do it myself, with any mp3 I want to play.
It also has a feature I didn't know about... a regular-sized headphone jack! Now I can listen to my music using any headphones in the house. Or plug in computer speakers and fill the room with music... which is what I do while I'm exercising.
The VE-20 has been out for a couple of years, so as far as I can tell, the bugs have been ironed out. Reception is phenomenal. I haven't had such good reception since that first Motorola years ago. Volume is wonderful. I really love my new Motorola VE-20!
Epilogue... A Phone With Attitude
Are you wondering about the speech recognition? I was. The first time I tried to call home from the car, on hands free bluetooth, I realized: I never changed my contact list. It still listed "Home" as "Call Home You Stupid Phone!"
Rather than stop driving to fix it, I just made the call. In a very beautiful, sweet voice, it said "Did you say..."
And then it YELLED at me! ... "CALL HOME YOU STUPID PHONE?" I must have really hurt it's feelings. But I went ahead and confirmed the call. Next, it asks "Home or Work?"
I said "Home", then I got the pretty lady voice again... "In the future, just say "Call home you stupid phone HOME."
It was humbling. My new phone had just chewed me out! But we're getting along great, now. Besides, I'd rather have a competent phone with an attitude. It beats having an incompetent phone anytime!!
2 Months Later...
It's been nearly 2 months since I wrote this article. Just wanted to post an addendum. I'm still completely happy with this phone. Continues to do everything I want it to do. Recently I was giving it a voice command to make a call, and Monique attempted to confuse it by interjecting her own command. The VE-20 hesitated for just a moment, then asked me to repeat the command. I smirked at her, and told her "You can't even confuse this phone on purpose... it KNOWS when you're trying to mess it up!"
After being ignored while we joked about it, the phone began guessing what we meant to say. I had to reassure it... "It's not your fault, my wife just doesn't understand you..."