Old and grey peeps may remember a song that did very well in the pop charts in 1968, sung with operatic hysteria by Barry Ryan, called Eloise. Well, I'm not going to discuss the song, even though its always been a favourite of mine. I'm going to talk about my new mobile phone also called Eloise.
These devices have to have names, for bluetooth pairing if nothing else! All my personal companions get girls' names (surprise, surprise). The tablet is called Papagena, after the pretty woman Papageno gets to marry at the end of The Magic Flute by Mozart. My old phone, the Nokia, was called Joanna, after my pre-transition alter ego on Second Life, called Joanna Windlow. Just so you know.
Eloise is a Samsung Galaxy SII. Some say that this was the best Android superphone of 2011. It's lately been superseded in 2012 by the SIII, and if you want that (or the HTC One X, its arch rival) you'll currently need to pay out Big Money. But I can't now afford to lash out £500 on a phone. Nor even £36 a month to have one on a contract deal. But last year's model has now become affordable. I judged it time to kiss Joanna goodbye, and welcome Eloise into my life.
I looked at the 3 network, but stayed with Vodafone. I think I got a reasonable deal at their shop in Brighton. Basically I received all the discounts that an entirely new customer would get, simply by accepting a change of phone number, which I didn't mind, especially as I was able to choose from a list of 25 vacant ones. I plumped for something memorable. The bottom line is that I've now got a top-notch phone for £20.50 a month - £5 less than I was paying before. And absolutely nothing to pay up front - so my savings have taken no hit at all. I can't see any flaw. 300 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of mobile data usage, and 1GB of free BT Openzone wi-fi when not at home - all completely adequate for me. There are certainly much cheaper deals to be had, and you don't need to look far for them, but then you have to accept a budget phone, and maybe a network that hasn't got the best coverage outside well-populated areas.
Like Joanna, Eloise is a white plastic affair with chrome trim. But whereas Joanna had a small screen to make room for a physical QWERTY keyboard, Eloise is all screen with a virtual keyboard that pops up automatically. The large screen is the killer feature for me: small screens mean very small text, and Joanna's screen was becoming a strain for my sexagenarian eyeballs. Here they are side by side:
Eloise is resting atop a rather nice soft leather case, lined with suede. You can see how my poor tired eyes are going to enjoy the bigger screen. But it's still much smaller than the screen on Papagena, my Sony tablet. So I won't be using Eloise for anything too visually demanding. Papagena will as before be handling the documents, the spreadsheets, the photos, the maps, and the games. But her little sister has nevertheless been loaded up with many of the same the same apps (with no second payment required, if there was a cost). Both being Android creatures means that they share a perfectly synchronised calendar and contact list with the PC at home, which is useful. If pushed, Eloise can do most of what Papagena can do, plus texts and voice calls.
Here's how Eloise's unlock and home screens were looking earlier today:
The wallpaper is a photo of mine, taken in the Brecon Beacons about a year ago. It shows a standing stone called Maen Llia, which lies just off the narrow minor road north of Ystradfellte.
I'm not sure whether I'll get back to South Wales this autumn - I'd love to see my aunt again, and her family, but it's not yet clear whether I can afford it. At least the blame for any lack of funds can't be placed on getting Eloise.