Category Archives: Gadget Corner

Republic Wireless: The Start of Something Really Good.

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless is the king of low-cost service and low-cost phones

I started hearing about Republic Wireless about a year ago or so–the promise of a new, low-cost cell phone that you own and pay very little on thanks to rebate plans and wi-fi bonded calling. Too good to be true, I used to say.

About a month ago, with our impending move to a small island in Florida, I finally caved in and said “yes” to my 2 teenage girls’ dreams to own their own cellphone. When the cries came in over and over, the first thing I thought about was “How am I going to pay for 2 more AT&T cellphones?” With the data, taxes, fees and rental of new phones, I figured that wasn’t an option. I remembered services like Republic Wireless from articles I have stumbled on and I figured to at least do some research.

What is Republic WIreless you ask? Here’s the gist: Low-cost phones that you buy outright–no renting from Verizon or AT&T for exorbitant fees. Low-cost plans each month–no contracts with these people whatsoever. You simply pick out your favorite Android phone (sorry, no iPhones welcome thanks to Apple’s closed-minded policies and procedures) and you now own that phone as long as you want. From there, choose a data plan and move on with life. Get ready for the best part–I just recieved my first bill from Republic. Since my girls didn’t use all of the 1GB I prepaid for, I got a refund of $10. Since I came late to the party, my plan doesn’t offer the refunding that they enjoy. My total phone bill this last month with the 3 of us? I paid $70.03 for the 3 phones. Don’t forget, I got a refund which brought that number to where it is.

You’re probably not convinced yet. Here’s some more bullet points–these phones that you buy from RW are “hybrid” phones. That means they are PRIMARILY built to work on wi-fi FIRST and then use the cellular signal when wi-fi disappears. So, most teenagers these days have 90-95% wi-fi signal around them at all times–wny not use that free signal to make phone calls instead of paying AT&T or Verizon to make real cellular calls? I average close to 95-97% daily wi-fi coverage as well. This is why RW doesn’t charge the rates for cellular service that AT&T and Verizon do–since you use very little cellular data, they can afford to drop the rates on cell service.

How about tethering your signal to wi-fi devices around you for free? Check. How about buying more data if you run out right from your phone? Check. How about software that shows you how much of your precious data that you have used? Check. How about making a call when there is NO cell service but PERFECT wi-fi service? Check. You’re going to hear a lot about wi-fi calling in the next few months–it’s simply the no-brainer way to work when you are near wi-fi and don’t want to pay AT&T prices for data. If you can get over T-Mobile and Sprint coverage, then give these guys a spin.

As far as the overall experience with RW so far, I have to say I’m overall pleased–my teenage daughters’ phones came and since I wasn’t in the same state with them, they actually figured out how to unbox them and set them up themselves. Since they have had these 2 phones, I have not had ONE single issue with the phones or service–if they want to make a call at home, it just goes over wi-fi as advertised–if we are driving around, the phones use a combination of Spring and T-Mobile service. Not as strong as AT&T or Verizon, but, I can’t complain about their signal on the small island here. They are on wi-fi 90% of the time anyway!

What’s the downside? I had a small one during my switch to RW from AT&T this last week. My brand-new Moto G4 that I purchased from RW was perfect for about 3 days–no complaints whatsoever. I even made a 1.5 hour phone call to a mortgage banker and it was wi-fi the entire time to her cellphone–I couldn’t have made that call in the house with AT&T–you have to go to the end of the driveway (and pray) to get a signal for AT&T or Verizon here. That right there paid for itself.

Things got crazy on the 4th day–the day my number ported from AT&T–the screen started freaking out like a ghost was pressing the screen, the programs would crash, the phone would reboot constantly for no reason. I ended up factory wiping the phone a total of 8 times to try to solve it–even right now it’s still crashing every few minutes. I assumed I got a bad phone and opened a ticket with RW. I had a nice fellow assure me it’s fine and we can monitor the situation overnight. I did that and nobody really got back to me the next morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. So, I took to Twitter and begged for a new phone–this one is clearly not right. An hour later, I had the e-mail saying they are sending a new phone. That was a GOOD move, RW. This is why I’m writing this review right now.

I’ll tell you point-blank–dump the contracts from these blood-sucking phone companies and at least try RW. You have a trial period where you can send the phone back if you don’t like it–I’m sure you will like the experience–it’s a no-brainer from the money side. We are all around wi-fi most of our lives–use that to make phone calls–it just doesn’t get better than that. Yes, you pay for the phone up front–but–you own it. No contracts, no rental fees, no damage penalties.

i loved RW before I had a phone with them and now that they came through and fixed an obvious lemon-phone issue without any qualms, I love them even more now. They are refreshing and progressive and I give 2 full thumbs up!

How to ditch Time Warner Home Phone & modem fees

Time Warner Cable ModemI was tipped off by a client recently on how to ditch Time Warner home phone service and the modem rental fee that they gouge you with every month. All told, this tip will basically get rid of not only $25 per month ($300 per year) on the Time Warner home phone service , but, also the useless $10 modem rental fee they charge you every month. How are we going to do this? For starters, you are going to replace the Time Warner phone service with Ooma phone service, and on top of that, you are going to purchase your own modem to replace the Time Warner issued modem. Ready to begin?

First, a few caveats. Doing this swapping of parts and service is not free–you will be required to purchase an Ooma telephone box (approximately $70-100)  outright and pay to have your home phone number ported from Time Warner to Ooma for about $40 (if you want to keep it–otherwise, you don’t have to shell out for this). You will also have to purchase a new cable modem outright, which will save you $120 a year from Time Warner. The price of a new cable modem can be anywhere from $50-100. At the end of this adventure, you will be paying Ooma roughly $4 per month for service (unless you go with Ooma pro service which is $9.99 per month) and taxes and no modem rental fee to worry about. That will bring your total from about $420 per year to about $48 bucks if you play your cards right.

Let’s talk about Ooma

Ooma Box

Ditch Time Warner home phone service for Ooma

Ooma is an internet-based phone service that hooks to your router and places all of your calls though the internet–which is exactly what Time Warner’s home phone service does. Ooma adds all of the bells and whistles that Time Warner does, including call forwarding, voicemail, junk call filtering (part of the pro service) and mobile apps to keep it all in check. I opted out of the Ooma pro services, since I don’t really need any of that stuff. I will miss the junk call filtering, but, for $10 per month, I can live without it. When the equipment came, it was very easy to setup and get it running in less than 10 minutes. I simply plugged the phone line from the back of the Time Warner modem into the back of the Ooma box. They provide an ethernet cord to plug into your router. After that, it was a trip to the Ooma website to setup my account and get the billing out of the way. I chose to port our home phone number from Time Warner to Ooma for a one-time fee of $39. As of this writing, the port is almost complete and it’s barely been a week since starting it.

The voice and call quality is basically on-par with the Time Warner phone service–no complaints so far. If you have a power outage, you are out of luck, since this works over the Internet and needs wall power. You may want to have a backup place (cell phone), just in case. You can check voicemail right on the cool-looking Ooma box, which resembles an old fashioned answering machine. The website is fresh and clean, and gets you what you need quickly, including call history, voicemail and account options. The best part is the cool, futuristic dial tone you hear when picking up a phone on the Ooma system. I chose to hook the Ooma to the wall outlets so all of our phones in the house work on the Ooma box–a bit tricky to setup, but, worth it. You can purchase an Ooma box and setup at this website.

Let’s talk about your new non-Time Warner home phone service modem.

Ditching the Time Warner Road Runner modem is also possible. I recently found a replacement ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem for about $70 bucks. This is a bare-bones modem that will get the job done. If I were you, I would check the Time Warner website to make sure you find a compatible modem for your region. I haven’t hooked up this new modem yet, until Ooma finishes porting my number. So, in order, you would want to setup Ooma first, then, cancel Time Warner home phone service when your port is complete. Then, you can go ahead and setup the new modem. Do your own research and find the right modem for you, even if you have to contact Time Warner.

 

How to get more hard drive storage on MacBook Air & Retina

One of the common complaints of the MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air is that they simply don’t have enough storage space. This is due to the fact that the Retina and Air have solid state hard drives (SSD), which are typically nowhere near the size of their hard drive cousins. In today’s article, we will go over 2 convenient options that will give you instant storage space on any MacBook Air or MacBook Retina–all without even having to open the computer at all!

Both of these options to increase the space of your MacBook Pro or MacBook Retina by using the SD card slot on the side of the computer. Both of these products are also pretty cool in the fact that they sit flush against the side of the computer. Normal SD cards stick out a bit which can cause them to break off inside the SD card reader sometimes.

These expansion cards for the MacBook Pro and the MacBook retina come from two different companies. The first expansion card comes from a company called TarDisk. The second option for storage expansion on the MacBook Pro and the MacBook retina comes from Transcend. Both of these companies put out very similar products. The storage cards from TarDisk seem to be a bit more expensive than the cards from Transcend. Both cards either come in 128 GB or 256 GB. Another difference in the two cards seems to be that the TarDisk cards add to your hard drive size, where the Transcend cards simply just give you extra storage space separately from your hard drive. The tardis card comes the special “Pear” software that allows it to bond with your hard drive.

Here’s where to purchase these hard drive storage expansion cards


 

No headphone jack on the iPhone 7 = Lightning headphones!

Philips M2L/27 Fidelio Premium Headphones with Lightning Connector for Apple iOSThe general rumors going around the campfire are that Apple has decided to kill the headphone jack on the next iPhone, probably called the iPhone 7. What does this mean for the millions of iPhone users out there who rely on the headphone jack for audio? Well, an early solution is a simple one–lightning port-based headphones.

Philips, makers of the Hue lighting system that Capital Mac Service are strong users of, have come up with one of the first lightning-based products, the Philips M2L/27 Fidelio Premium Headphones with Lightning Connector for Apple iOS. This set of headphones simply plug into the bottom lightning port on any iOS device, delivering high-quality digital audio.

Why is Apple killing our headphone jack?

What is the reasoning for Apple’s possible killing of the old-school headphone jack? Well, for the most part, it’s size. Without that simple headphone port (which is still considered analog, not digital), Apple claims they can make the iPhone even thinner than it is now. Also, insiders claim that the sound will be richer and deeper, since it will be completely digital.

What do you think about Apple’s possible decision to remove the headphone jack in favor of a lightning port-based solution? Sound off in the comments below.

Gadget Corner: $20 Wireless Driveway Alarm


Have you ever been in the shower and the doorbell rings? How about an early alert system that is waterproof and wireless and will alert you to anyone approaching your driveway, or, even the front door.

This cool device can alert you long before anyone hits the front door wirelessly and with different tones and even blinking LED’s. The sensor is waterproof and battery powered and the transmitter is plugged into any wall outlet.

Purchase this favorite of Capital Mac Service here: 1byone Wireless Driveway Alert – Infrared Motion Sensor Doorbell – One Receiver and one Sensor – “Easy Chime” Kit – Plug in Chime – 1 Year Warranty