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Wireless Carriers Offering Early Upgrade Programs: What You Should Consider

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have each announced new programs that allow their customers to upgrade their handsets well before the usual 24-month cycle. At first glade, this sounds great, but the devil is in the details.

In every instance, you will pay more for an accelerated upgrade program, but that should come as no surprise.

There are several different dimensions to each carrier’s new plan. You are buying a new phone without a subsidy. Phones are expensive (how about $550 to $700?). You might be paying the same monthly subsidized phone service fees without that carrier subsidizing your phone (!!).

You’ll need to sit down and compare what you’re currently paying against how much you’ll pay for one of the early-upgrade plans. Now decide if that additional cost is worth having a nifty, new phone when you want it versus waiting for your contract to expire.

Also consider the obligation you’re making especially when you’re in a family plan with other people. The wireless carriers are actually encouraging staggered contracts in a family plan to increase your trouble to end a contract and choose another carrier.

Personally, I’m going to stick with my standard plan. As alluring as the latest and greatest gadget is, it’s quite a financial burden for a device that will lose its luster in a matter of months. But your attitude might be very different to mine.

Have Your Mac Listen to You

Mac Mic Icon

Do you hate to type? Do you have a late-model Mac? Then you’ll love this tip!

Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.x) has a surprisingly robust voice dictation engine built right in, but it’s not on my default. The only catch is that it requires an Internet connection.

So let’s enable it:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. In the System category, click Dictation & Speech.
  3. For Dictation:, click the radio button for On.
  4. Review other settings to  further customize your experience if you wish (check the Text to Speech  tab, too*) and then close the Dictation & Speechwindow.

Listen Now

* In the Text to Speech tab, you can even have the system announce when you have an alert, and it might be cool once or twice before you turn it off.

Double tap the fn key (lower left of your keyboard) to begin the voice recognition. Press the Return key to end it.

Here are a few other tips to get more value from using this feature.

Remember to say punctuation like “comma” and “period” and “exclamation mark”. Say “new line” for a carriage return and “new paragraph” for (you guessed it) and new paragraph. For ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, say “all caps” before each word. The system supports names, proper pronouns, money, and dates, so speaking naturally should work fine. Apple has a resource that details all the supported commands.