The Only Place I Can Phone Is Home

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OK, I might as well admit it - I'm a mobile technology dinosaur. My mobile phone is obviously of no use at all these days because the only thing you can do with it is make and receive phone calls. As I discovered a couple of weeks ago while on a brief touring holiday around England by car, I'm no longer fit to use facilities such as motels and travel lodges. I'm officially a second-rate citizen in our high technology mobile device-enabled world.

Why? Well, as an ex Boy Scout, I thought it would be a good idea before we set off on our travels to print off a list of phone numbers for the reservation centres of the major motel and travel lodge chains so we could just phone and book a room at the nearest one as we roamed unpredictably across the country taking in museums, preserved railways, public gardens, beautiful scenery, and ducks (at the Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust if you were wondering about that last one).

So, would you believe that almost none of the usual motels or travel lodges publish a central reservations number on their web site any longer? Of course, there are plenty of interactive online maps showing the locations, with the pop-up details I need for each one. But if you follow the link to book by phone, it starts off by telling you to open a web browser and access the reservations page. Yeah, that will work when I've only got ten buttons on my phone and a less-than-one-inch-square screen. Of course, I could just print off a list of all that company's locations, but the list doesn't include phone numbers or addresses. It's just links to other pages on the Web site.

I suspected that the world of mobile phone technology was leaving me behind a while ago when I tried to buy a replacement clamshell-style phone for my wife because her very nice Motorola RAZR V8 had decided to fall apart (obviously an event that was in no way connected to dropping it onto a tiled floor). But there is nothing like them available. Everything is big screen, full color, web-enabled, and too big to easily carry in your pocket.

So is there a future where a mobile phone will be just a phone? Or is it that mobile phones will no longer need to actually be a phone at all. We'll just use Voice over IP (VoIP) for the increasingly rare occasions when we actually want to communicate using speech; and the web for everything else. I suppose they'll have to think up a new name for such devices. Maybe we can call them IPads.

Of course, I could just buy a mobile dongle for my laptop and take the whole caboodle everywhere with me instead. I just looked on the Web site of my current phone supplier to see if I could buy a broadband dongle for when we go to Cyprus. But when I entered my postcode it said they "didn't recommend use in my location", so I can't use it at home. And, further down the page, it says that they don't support use outside of the UK at all, so it's no use for my upcoming trip to Cyprus either. It sounds like the only time I could use it is if I drove to my nearest town here in England and sat in a car park. One that is in a "recommended location", obviously.

Or maybe I should just stay at home until December, and buy a Windows Phone 7 when they finally appear...

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The Only Place I Can Phone Is Home