by Dan Bertolet
I don’t use a cell phone myself — no reason to. But a few weeks ago my friend Rob called to ask who had the best cell-phone deals (just because I’m an engineer I must know, right?). I told him to look in the paper, which these days means “go to hell.”
A couple days later, I meet Rob for breakfast on Broadway, and he can’t finish his eggs. He’s already ordered a cell phone, and he’s going on and on about how Point.com helped him. I take the opportunity to remind him of the possibility that the transmitters in cell phones cause brain damage (see “Heads Up”).
Rob is undeterred. He’s still enthusiastically describing how Point.com narrows your options. I listen, but it’s kind of like your friends giving you a blow-by-blow on how Tommy finally pooped, when you don’t have children yourself.
A week passes, and during a lull at work, the subject of cell phones comes up in the cube, and I recall Point.com – ah yes, the key to a good domain name – it sticks to the brain. And there I go.
Point and Click
Initially, I’m not impressed. The front page of Point.com has that generic corporate look, complete with the ubiquitous shopping-cart icon. Of the three prominent buttons, I click on “Begin with the Right Plan.” Next comes a request for my zip code, followed by a page indicating there are “116 plans available.” The plans are listed on the left frame, while on the right are check boxes for service features — how many minutes per month, etc.
Being cheap, I check the “$20 or less” button, and the field shrinks to 13 plans — pretty cool. I check some more boxes, and soon I’m down to just two plans. Another button lets me compare the two side-by-side. I’m totally into it now. Back at the front page, I can go through the same selection process for cell phones, as well as accessories.
And there’s no lack of informative articles to help me understand what I’m getting into. One that caught my eye was a story on the pros and cons of cutting the phone cord and going completely wireless, a “lifestyle” decision about which only a technophobe such as my 93-year old grandmother has not yet fantasized.
I was even more appreciative of Point.com after checking out competitors ephones.com and decide.com.
Folks, Point.com RAWKS! It’s the kind of site that restores one’s faith that the Internet can be a positive force in the Universe. You arrive lost in a wilderness of consumer uncertainty, and you leave glowing with the confidence of someone who just made a wise purchasing decision and knows it. With the demand for cell phones expected to reach 350 million units worldwide by the year 2000, Point.com better have the servers tuned up and ready.
Dan Bertolet, resident SiteCynic, is an electrical engineer and musician.
Site Cynic Rating
Overall: 4 out of 5 Lamps
Content: 5 lamps
Navigation: 4 lamps
Graphics: 3 lamps
Although numerous studies show that prolonged use of cell phones can lead to higher rates of cancer and other DNA damage, none of these studies has yet been repeated in order to confirm its findings. Hence we got this perplexing statement from the Food & Drug Administration in October 1999: “The available science does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are absolutely safe or that they are unsafe.”
Until we know more, you may not want to keep the cell phone up against your head for long stretches of time. Or consider using a headset that’s connected to your cell phone (so you can point the phone away from your body).