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Are Cell Phones Getting Worse?

This infographic is making the rounds on Twitter:

cell-phones-then-and-now

It apparently started at TruthFacts a few weeks back. While somewhat amusing, it obviously focuses only on the ways modern mobile devices are worse than the phone-only models of years ago, eliding all of the ways in which they’re superior. After all, most of us gladly made the switch to smartphones and few, indeed, would trade them for a 1996—or even 2006—model phone despite the drawbacks noted above.

Those, of course, were light years better than the earliest mobile phones:

1973 was the year that saw our liberation – from landlines, telephone booths, and other trappings. That was the year that the first cell phone, a Motorola built by a team led by Martin Cooper, was tested and released. Its price tag was in the thousands, and though the technology may seem clunky and even comical to Millenials who grew up with phones that could fit snugly in their palm, the first model was a breakthrough. Since it was both expensive and new, the first cell phone became a status symbol in the way that the latest iPhone or Android model might be today. They are ubiquitous in yuppie caricatures of the period, foreshadowing the culture of constant connectedness and accessibility to the workplace that some celebrate and some lament.

The grey, brick-like rectangle may bring to mind the shoe-phone from Get Smart rather than the sleek smartphones of today or the flip-phones of a generation ago. In other words, it may seem more like a relic than a pivotal turning point, even for those who comprehend its significance on an intellectual level.

Of course, only the very rich could afford those devices. Few people I knew had a portable phone until the mid-1990s and they were mostly for emergencies.

Rahul Chowdhury traces the evolution of mobile phones from 1995 to 2012, demonstrating how rapidly they evolved in both form and function. It’s difficult to tell from the graphic, but the “Then” phone appears to be from no earlier than 1999 or later than 2002. Even by then, mobile phones had come a long way (click the link for pictures):

In 1995 mobile phones used to look like this, huge in size and with a pretty long antenna. It is similar to today’s cordless phone. It must seem real odd to us now, but back then this cell phone were the craze of the day.

In 1996, mobile phones became a little more defined and better looking than how they were before. Antennas were shortened and the designs modified; the features were also upgraded. The above image shows Nokia 9000 which was one of the most popular phones of that time.

In 1996, the antennas vanished from the mobile phones, giving an improved look than how it was before. This enhancement also saved space and marked the introduction of internal antennas in the mobile phones. The above image shows a typical cell phone of 1997 from telco AT&T.

[In 1998] Though antennas were removed from most of the mobile phones, there are still some of them who retained antennas and changed the typical colour of black to vibrant coloured cases instead. The above image shows Nokia 5110 which was launched in 1998 and was available in a variety of colours to choose from.

But even those of the era being touted were light years behind modern smartphones.s

In 1999, mobile phones were given a more compact look. The above image shows a Nokia 3210, features cool colours, internal antenna and better graphics in a much smaller package than previous phones.

In 2000, the world’s first touchscreen phone came out. Although it didn’t have advanced touchscreen technology like those available today, but at that time it was a huge craze and the introduction of a promising technology. The image shows a Motorola phone which has a simple black and white touchscreen, allowing easier access to various features than before.

2001 was the birth year of the world’s first monochromatic display cell phone, and with that we wave goodbye to the old and boring black display. The image shows a Nokia 8250, which had a single colour display, for example the background was not the same grey background anymore, it had backgrounds of different colours like blue, which along with the compact design made this phone a great choice for everyone.

In 2002, technology made another huge change in the history of mobile phones, putting a great full colour display and integrating camera to mobile phones, producing the world’s first camera cell phone. The Nokia 7650 shown here is on sliding mode, features a great colour display and a 0.3MP camera allowing you to snap pictures on the move.

That’s right: It’s quite possible that the phone being touted didn’t have a camera at all. If it did, it was bloody awful. In the next decade, though, a revolution would take place:

In 2003, the clam shell phone very much like the Samsung S300 above was introduced. mobile phones are no longer limited to single screen. This model has a small screen on the outside to notify calls and text messages coming in, and a big screen on the inner for the user to type messages and carry out other functions of the phone.

2004 gave rise to the one of the slimmest cell phone of the time, created by Motorola. The above image shows a Motorola V3, which was in a class of its own, bearing stunning looks, a slim shape, dual screen, VGA Camera and lots of other exciting features. mobile phones have come a long way from brick-like bulky to stylish sleek that can fit in your shirt pocket. Surely we’ve reached the pinnacle of cell phone evolution, right?

In 2005, Sony unveiled the world’s first Walkman phone, and W800i was truly an awesome phone definitive of the series. The Sony W800i shown here was built for delivering great music and with dedicated buttons for music playback, Memory Stick support, which made it a great gadget for enjoying music anytime on the go. And it still serves all the main purpose of a cell phone.

In 2006, mobile phones were transforming with into a stylish gadget. It began its new role as an accessory to mark the personality of the owner, to make a statement of what defines one’s preferences, likes and dislikes. The LG Chocolate, was a great example of how cellphone designers are putting style in the forefront of cell phone design.

In 2007, Apple Inc unveiled the Apple iPhone, which was the world’s first advanced touchscreen smartphone. It’s the first phone to have an operating system, the iOS, and by enabling apps to run on the phone, it had allowed cellphones to become the primary mobile device of use. Having an iPhone became a source of pride.

In 2008, as dependence on the laptop as a necessary tool for work increase, mobile phones undergo transformation to become the device to have with you on-the-go. The HTC G1, which was a slider cell phone that hides a full QWERTY keypad beneath its large screen, runs on the Android OS.

In 2009, mobile phones can still fit in your palm but the screens get bigger and bears higher resolutions for high performance display. The Motorola Milestone carries a large touchscreen, full QWERTY Keypad and ran on Android OS, delivering advanced features to work with.

In 2010, mobile phones were transformed into something like this. Have you ever imagined that you could see this kind of cell phone evolving from the typical brick type heavy phones in the past? The above image shows a Motorola Backflip, which featured a new kind of form, allowing the user to flip the screen on the back of the phone for easy working, as shown above.

2011 marked the return of the touchscreen which dominated the mobile gadget scene with its powerful hardware and sleek looks. The above image shows a Samsung Galaxy S II, which has just about all the things that a cell phone and its owner needs in this modern age. It has an 8MP camera and AMOLED Display, runs on the Android OS, is less than 1 cm thick, supports web browsing, calls and has an in-built GPS. This was the phone to beat in 2011.

In 2012, we have the Nokia Lumia 800, which runs on the Windows 7 Mobile Edition OS. No one could have imagined that in a mere 17 years, mobile phones could have made the leap from just being the alternative to landlines to becoming a computer, GPS, radio and our lifeline to the Internet, and still be able to fit in your pocket.

 

Of course, they’ve continued to evolve, although not all that radically in the last two years. But the processors are more powerful, the cameras are more useful, the Internet connection has gotten better, more local storage is available, integration with the cloud is more advanced, and websites are increasingly being formatted with mobile in mind.

In short, the comparison being made is rather silly: between a largish phone that may have had some basic texting capability and a crappy camera with a miniaturized personal computer that fits easily in one’s pocket.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    My problem has not been so much with mobile devices but with computers. I used to buy HP computers but after 2 hard drive crashes in less than 2 years I went with Dell for both a new desk top and laptop about 18 months ago. Knock on wood, but so far so good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m not sure how we’d go about quantifying that question so we could answer it. There are an awful lot of $650 iPhones being sold and willingness to pay is as good a measure of how good something is as any.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Mikey says:

    There’s no valid comparison because they are entirely different devices with entirely different purposes.

    Back then, a cell phone was a phone. Today it’s a stupidly powerful ultra-compact computer that can do dozens of things, one of which is make phone calls.

    This chart is like saying a Ferrari is worse than a horse-drawn carriage because gasoline is expensive.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  4. Really…the modern smartphone only has a battery life of 3-4 hours…doing what, exactly? Steaming video from the internet? (Unfortunately, I can’t easily find battery standby and talk time statistics for the Nokia 3310 (released 2000) which is the phone displayed on left in the graphic.)

    And how is the lifespan of a smartphone only 1-2 years? Because people upgrade that often? The batteries on a smartphone will still go after a couple years (I just upgraded from my iPhone 3GS and have replaced the battery in it to give to a family member who doesn’t have a smartphone currently), but outside of Apple products replacing a battery isn’t a big deal (and my clumsy self managed to use a kit purchased online to take apart and replace the battery on my old iPhone).

    And to compare a having to hit the a key 3 times to get a single letter, like on the old phones (don’t get me started on T9), to a full QWERTY keyboard is so absurd I don’t know where to begin..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Timothy Watson: It really depends. Even streaming music, my iPhone 5s does pretty well. Oddly, chat, using pretty much any app, seems to be the biggest resource hog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. trumwill says:

    The iPhone was the first phone with an operating system?

    What?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. Ben Johannson says:

    I experienced far fewer typos on a basic phone than on touchscreen. One would think, “hey, autocorrect!”, but Samsung’s is so fantastically stupid one doesn’t benefit so much as wage war against it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. mantis says:

    @trumwill:

    Yeah that article has a number of inaccuracies, but that one’s a doozy. I guess Palm, Nokia, Symbian, Microsoft and RIM were all just dreams that Steve Jobs had before he invented the mobile OS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. I am having doubts about the three-story drop resiliency of the older phones, too.

    I say for sure that contemporary dumb phones, such as those my kids have, are not especially durable.

    The only time I have real battery issue with my iPhone is when I use it for navigation purposes in the car, but if I just remember to plug it in the USB port, no problems. I do need to charge it daily, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Mostly, however, what @Mikey said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. just me says:

    My old flip phone and the one before that were really durable, however with a good case I have seen my daughter drop her iPhone on concrete and no damage.

    Smartphones are fragile but they do so much. I rarely use an actual computer anymore and I love the calendar app.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Tyrell says:

    My unlocked windows phone cost $50 (I am not going to pay $600 for cell phone; that is more than a lot of good tv’s and computers) and has more features than I use or will need. It has two drawbacks: camera is one direction, so doing a self photo requires good hands. It is not waterproof (sorry, water resistant). After getting a digital camera soaked in a water park a few years ago, I am always looking out for water resistant electronics. The camera did come back to life after a few days open and using a hair dryer. Other people report that putting a wet cell phone in a bowl of rice works well.
    I remember years ago a speaker saying that “people would laugh if you told them the day would come when we would watch our phones and talk to our televisions”. It does seem if the cell phone technology has advanced so quickly, why can’t they come up with a electric car battery that can go 300 miles and can charge in 15 minutes? Of course, there’s that saying “if they can put a man on the moon, then they should be able to ________________ !”
    I know a lot of people who still use flip phones, and they are perfectly satisfied. I imagine that today’s smart phones will seem obsolete in …5 years or so.
    This subject goes right along with the one about phone booths that came up a few days ago. Kids have no idea what they are.
    That comparison chart – I am not so sure about the life span as shown. You mean a cell phone’s average life is two years ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Jeremy says:

    I think one of the problems with smartphones isn’t with the phone itself, it’s with the software. Specifically, the bloat that companies inject into the OS. Samsung, for example, has a user interface called “TouchWiz” that adds a lot of animations and “cool things,” but really slows down the phone and annoys a lot of users. Sure, it looks pretty, but if it slows down the experience, users get frustrated. It’s why even though it has a faster CPU, the Samsung Galaxy S5 performs equally as the HTC One (M8).

    What designers have forgotten is that performance is design, just like color, shapes, gradients, perspective, etc. Consumers want their stuff to look nice, but not at the expense of performance or speed. If they try to load up a website and it takes too long, they go somewhere else and never see the design. I see this crap everywhere nowadays; for a time, when I logged into Google+ (yes, yes, I know) there would be an animated slideshow of all my photos I hadn’t published but had been backed up. WTF? How much bandwidth did that eat? I didn’t need any of that! But someone at Google probably thought it “looked cool,” so in it went. That mindset needs to die.

    As for the other things, you and the commentariant mostly covered them. Especially on the length of time used thing – the reason they’re changed every 1-2 years is because people want to, not because they need to. I know people who are still using iPhone 3′s (and 3S’) and older HTC and Samsung phones from 2010. (I have two, but I only use them for testing responsive web designs.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Grewgills says:

    @Ben Johannson:
    You know you can turn it off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Ben says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    I have an iPhone 4S and ever since I upgraded to iOS 7, the battery life is beyond awful. I already went in, and turned off all of the options of having apps run in the background, turned down the screen brightness, and every other thing I could think of. No matter what I do, it’s dead by mid-afternoon unless I recharge it in my car at lunch. It’s so bad that I’m worried I’m going to have to ditch the iPhone altogether; that is not something I want to do, I’ve not been impressed with android.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Mikey:

    Back then, a cell phone was a phone. Today it’s a stupidly powerful ultra-compact computer that can do dozens of things, one of which is make phone calls.

    And one of the advantages of the old phone, not mentioned in the article, was that it was a pretty good phone. Call quality was much, much better than almost any smart phone I’ve used.

    The overlap in capabilities among my smart devices — laptop, tablet, Android phone, music player — is absurd and annoying. I would love to change back to devices that do one or two things very well. I feel like a chef who’s had his roll of Global specialty knives replaced by a drawer full of Swiss Army knives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  17. trumwill says:

    @DrDaveT: What’s stopping you? Standard phones are still around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Franklin says:

    I’ve got the generation right before smartphones. It’s got an actual keyboard when I open it. Sure it’s small but I bet I can out-type ANYBODY here, with correct grammar, without the use of auto-correct or any other aid.

    We’ve got a smartphone and various tablets around our house. In my opinion, they are useless for doing anything … UNLESS I don’t have access to an actual desktop computer, which of course is anytime I’m away from home and work. Seriously, I will go up two flights of stairs and wake my computer up before being forced to “type” on a touchscreen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    I’m not a big fan of Apple. I have an Android powered Samsung S4 and usually only have to charge it every other night.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: The problem with electric car batteries is you’re up against chemistry. The requirements that you want to be able to satisfy are a) being able to hold a LOT of charge, and b) being able to do many deep duty cycles without degradation. C) not blowing up when you do the nail gun test is also a Good Thing.

    Unfortunately, you can usually only get two out of three of the above. (If you want everything to be cheap,that’s another constraint. Ditto for fast recharging.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. grumpy realist says:

    James, you could post something similar, but about cars. I’m in the market for a new (used) car at present, and am at my wit’s end. Have decided against a Hyundai because whoever does their dashboards seems to think that the only time anyone ever turns on the headlights is when it’s pitch-black outside, and I haven’t yet run into a Chevy or a GM car that doesn’t have far too much in the way of electronic bells and whistles.

    I’ve in fact started to make a list of what I DON’T want in a car. I don’t need an in-car electronic entertainment system, nor a car alarm, nor cruise control. I don’t want to get into a car and then have to hunt all over the dashboard to try to figure out how to turn the blasted thing on. I don’t want everything to have electronic labels as opposed to mechanical labels (dashboard gives out and you have no idea what gear you’re putting the car into)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. James Joyner says:

    @grumpy realist: You’re probably screwed, although I haven’t scoured the market for plain vanilla cars. But the trend is definitely towards more gadgetry, even in the low end of the price point. Even in pick-up trucks!

    My late wife wanted every damned bell and whistle available, which really jacked up the cost. I don’t need as much but even so I enjoy having, for example, Bluetooth and the ability to stream songs from my phone through a nice sound system. Both her van and my BMW convertible have in-dash navigation, although I’d be happy at this point just to rely on my phone’s nav.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Eric Florack says:

    @Ron Beasley: If HP actually made hard drives, anymore that response might have had a bit more logic in it. Still, glad it worked out for you.

    And @James… of *course* they’re getting more resource intensive, and fragile, as what we ask them to do grows, just as computers themselves have done.

    Let’s see. Just to put perspective to it… My own cell…

    * Does my GPS/Mapping/trip planning work. (Google Maps)
    * has a copy of my logging going at all times (automated via BigRoad)
    *Is a complex MP3 player, driving the stereo* (Neutron Player) (at the moment, there’s only about 5000 songs in the 32GB of memory…)
    *streams audio (radio stations, etc) from the net (TuneIn)
    * Handles perhaps 100 texts per day, most automated from various traffic monitor services
    * Handles Email on 5 different accounts
    * Creates a WiFi hotspot for my laptop
    *has a browser (Firefox, at the moment)
    * Is a decent camera… of a quality impossible only a few years ago
    *calculator

    * and oh, yeah, handles voice calls, often with programmed responses, depending on system mode.

    Yes, its an android.
    Now, I don’t list all this to brag. The point I’m making is the reason they are what you say they are, James… cumbersome and fragile… is because of the large list of tasks we put to them.

    Odd thing…. we give the phones all this power, and all these tasks and then wonder why things get a little crazy. kinda like government, huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @trumwill:

    Standard phones are still around.

    Not really. At least, the last time I tried to find a phone for my father-in-law we eventually gave up. There was nothing out there that he would have been able (or willing) to use.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. mantis says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You may want to look at the Jitterbug phones. They are made by cell phone inventor Martin Cooper’s newest company, which is marketed towards seniors. The phones are designed to be simpler and more durable with much longer battery life than most phones on the market. They aren’t for everyone, but for people who want phones that just work without a steep learning curve and constant babysitting, they are a good option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t need as much but even so I enjoy having, for example, Bluetooth and the ability to stream songs from my phone through a nice sound system.

    Bluetooth? ARE YOU TALKING ON THE PHONE WHILE YOU DRIVE?!?!?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. trumwill says:

    @DrDaveT: Verizon and Sprint both have Basic Phone sections with some choices. With AT&T and T-Mobile you can use any GSM phone. Dad managed to find a pretty basic phone for mom and she is awfully minimalist.

    @Franklin: Early smartphones have some decent physical keyboards, though unfortunately they’ve gone out of style. I did manage to get my wife a slideout, but that model has been discontinued and I’m not sure when and if one will be available again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Eric Florack says:

    @Rafer Janders: and why not? The issue is “hands free”, not “conversation”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: I try to avoid it. Hell, I don’t like talking on the phone to begin with. I like the Bluetooth connection for music streaming, as I can control the playlist from my steering wheel without taking my eyes off the road.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: You are one of the few who does not want an alarm system. One thing that bothers me is the car computer and data collection device. You get those annoying “check engine” lights which usually has nothing to do with how the car runs, but will cost hundreds to get whatever fixed so it will pass the state inspection, which is another racket itself. And all of that information that is collected, yet you the car owner can’t access it. I have thought that my next car will be an older car that does not have a computer, fume canisters, converters, or other such stuff, and does not have to be inspected. It would be easier to work on and parts would be cheaper. Something like a 1982 Pontiac or Buick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Eric Florack says:

    @james

    You don’t do that via voice control?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Franklin says:

    @trumwill: Someday either we’ll have:

    1) really good voice recognition (no I don’t think we’re even close to that right now), or
    2) we’ll have a little button that deploys a blow-up keyboard … no I haven’t figured out how it will get packed in yet, otherwise I’d be a billionaire (yes I’ve seen other ideas like displaying an image of a keyboard on a desk and stuff, but there are no ideas of which I’m aware that give you true tactile feel like a real keyboard).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. anjin-san says:

    I’ve found iPhones to be both reliable and stable. Charge it overnight and have a charger in your car and you are good to go.The real achilles heel has been venerability to damage when dropped. I’m not crazy about the gradual dumbing down of the OS, but that is a problem across the entire Apple product line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Eric Florack says:

    @Tyrell: Check Engine lights?
    Thank the EPA.

    As for regular phones, I submit they no longer exist.
    More than once in this thread, call quality was referred to as the big advantage of the older phones. That’s a quality that has disappeared because of the move away from analogue to digital audio, compressed into such a narrow bandwidth that any sort of “quality” is impossible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: I don’t want an alarm system because as far as I can tell, the only thing they do is go off at weird times, annoy everyone who is living in buildings around you, and gets ignored.

    I figure that not having an alarm is my contribution to maintaining a quiet neighborhood (or at least not adding to the decibel level.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. grumpy realist says:

    @Rafer Janders: Actually, it depends on the state as to whether this is legal or not. Illinois allows talking on the phone while driving provided you have a hands-free headset. (I think this is still awfully risky, but given most of the time you probably want to use the phone is when you’re stuck in traffic, I’ll grudgingly go along with it.)

    Have heard that now it’s mandatory for all US-made cars to have Bluetooth? What’s up with that?

    (Geez, I just want a simple, ordinary, plain vanilla car. If I wanted something that had a dashboard like a spaceship, I’d buy a Javelin.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. BTW: I think it is a myth that call quality used to be better.

    Also: the issue of dropped calls and whatnot is more about the cell network than it is the individual phone, yes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Concur on both fronts. Oddly, despite living in a densely populated, affluent area near the nation’s capital, coverage in these parts can be rather spotty because of NIMBY syndrome. Three years or so ago, one of the major carriers was going to put up a tower disguised as a tree or some such near the local school. The neighborhood got up in arms to protest this development—Kim and I were lone supporters—despite the fact that probably everyone over the age of 12 in the neighborhood carries at least one phone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: I also live in Northern Virginia and can’t get signal in some parts of my house. Efforts to put up a cell tower nearby were quashed because residents didn’t want a cell tower disrupting their swimming pool and nature trails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Grewgills says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think this is still awfully risky

    Probably less risky than talking to someone in the passenger seat with many people’s attendant desire to make occasional eye contact, not to mention talking to someone in the back seat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Apropos of this conversation: Razr Burn: My Month With 2004′s Most Exciting Phone

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Also, this toon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Florak

    Thank the EPA.

    As soon as I get done thanking the EPA for rivers that don’t catch on fire, for having salmon in the creek near my house in an urban area, and for not having the brown air I remember from my childhood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: eh… yes, and maybe.
    the latter depends a lot on how efficient the transmitter section is at sending the RF signal, particularly in fringe areas. some phones do well, there, others not so much.

    @anjin-san: then again, you have cars that dont run and people without jobs as a direct result. Not much of a trade, really. the sky wont fall if the EPA ends. Like unions, at one time they actually served a porpose, albeit hamhandedly. That time has long since past.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  45. Matt says:

    @Ron Beasley: Your problem is you’re buying cheaply made overpriced junk..

    Spend 20 minutes to assemble your own computer and it’ll last for decades. I use my systems to the point that they are so far behind the curve that they are useless. Even though I heavily overclock my systems they last because I buy quality components (price ends up the same and sometimes cheaper then the dell version).

    Meanwhile dell and HP use cheap/crap components such as Taiwanese caps…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: Autozone or any number of other car parts stores can tell you what is on your ODB system at any point for free. Most are easily fixable.

    I fixed an O2 sensor code once just by seafoaming the car. It’s been 4 years with no check engine light.

    People way overstate how hard it is to work on newer vehicles. YEah some of the stuff is inconvenient to get to but it’s still the same basic stuff under all that plastic and shine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. Matt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Actually during the analog era calls DID sound better. The compression schemes used by the all digital networks cut voice quality so they can handle more calls with the same pipe size.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think it is a myth that call quality used to be better.

    I think I worked in the telecom industry for six years, during the transition from circuit-switched networks to packet-switched networks. I think you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    And that’s before you get to things like the difference between a 3 cm speaker and a 1 cm speaker, or microphone placement, or…

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  49. DrDaveT says:

    @Grewgills:

    Probably less risky than talking to someone in the passenger seat

    No. The degradation in quality of driving in the cellular era is visible to the naked eye. It used to be that you could be sure that a car that was having persistent trouble staying in its lane was being driven by a drunk — and it was a rare sight. These days, I see half a dozen lane-impaired drivers per hour, all of them either on their cell phones (talking or texting) or fiddling with their GPS.

    Well, almost all. A small but noticeable fraction of them are eating, which is another new thing…

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  50. @DrDaveT: Fair enough. I am tempted to engage in a lengthy argument with you now based on my subjective impressions versus your actual knowledge of the matter, but who would do that? :)

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  51. @DrDaveT:

    These days, I see half a dozen lane-impaired drivers per hour, all of them either on their cell phones (talking or texting) or fiddling with their GPS.

    He was talking about hand-free talking. not fiddling with devices. I am with him insofar as I am not sure that talking hands-free is more distracting than talking to someone in the car with you.

    I agree with you, however, that people fiddling with their devices are quite dangerous.

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  52. Franklin says:

    @grumpy realist: Agreed with you on the car alarm system. I’ve never once experienced one going off for its intended purpose.

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  53. Tyrell says:

    @Matt: I am interested in building my own computer. Just how is that done? Any links or resources?

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  54. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: Youtube is your friend with many guides to installing all components. Computers are like snap tight models these days. There is only one way to plug about everything in. The only issue you might have is with installing the CPU and the CPU’s heatsink. Properly installing the heatsink with thermal paste is probably the biggest time sink of the build process (cable routing can suck up a lot of time too).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPIXAtNGGCw

    Newegg is an awesome place to buy parts too :p

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