Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Backpacking Gear: LG Incite Windows Smartphone

One of the minor problems that most backpackers need to resolve is how many extra luxury items to pack and how not to forget and lose said luxury items while on the trail. Trail logs and forums seem to have more than one incident of someone finding lost phones and digital cameras along the Appalachian Trail. We had our own variation on our first section hike. We took along a Verizon pre-paid cell phone, two disposable 35mm cameras, a handful of maps and several sheets of notes. We also noted a distinct lack of current weather information along the A.T.

With that in mind, we have purchased an unlocked ATT LG Incite smartphone with Windows Mobile. We selected the Incite due to its combining the usual cell phone with still and video cameras along with an FM radio, WiFi, and standalone GPS system. "One device to rule them all;" pops into mind.

So far we have been very pleased. We have downloaded and installed several GPS programs and have settled on TurboGPS. We also have been pleased with the FM radio, which needs headphones or earbuds for an antennae and will not function without them. We've also found SpruceChess a free java chess program that should prove entertaining on the bus rides to and back. We installed Xpdf to view PDF files and will shortly upload our collection of PDFs from the 2009 Online Companion.

We have also taken numerous still photos under several light conditions and have found the size and resolution of both the photos and videos more than satisfactory.

Our final phase will be activating our pre-paid T-Mobile phone service. Our local ATT store was less than customer friendly when we inquired about a pre-paid ATT sim card, but T-Mobile was more than happy to sell us one of theirs. T-Mobile has adequate coverage at road crossing in NJ and in most of the metro New York City area. We can also spend just $10 every 90 days to maintain phone service. We like the idea of $40 per year for phone service that we prefer only to use while on the trail or during emergencies.

If you decide you like to purchase an LG Incite, we found ours on for about $100 - unlocked, no plan required. That's a tremendous discount from the 2008 suggested retail price of $500. A T-Mobile sim card is another $7 shipped.

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