Shopping for cell phonesIs someone on your list wishing for a new cell phone this year? Tom Merritt talks to Kent German about CNET's top picks and what to keep in mind when buying a phone.
^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:06 >> Hey Happy Holidays everyone, I'm Tom Merritt. Welcome to CNET's holiday buying guide .I'm with our Senior Editor for cell phones, Kent German; thanks for joining us Kent. >> Hey Tom. >> Tom: We're going to talk a little bit about giving cell phones as gifts; now I know one of the biggest problems with the cell phone is it's not just the gadget. >> Kent: No it's not. >> Tom: You also have a carrier; somebody might have AT&T or Verizon. How do you deal with that question? >> Kent: Well it's important that you find out who ever you're giving the gift to, the recipient, what carrier they're using if they like it. If they like a carrier, they're happy with it, then you shouldn't have a problem buying them a phone that is on that carrier; but if you buy them a phone that causes them to switch and they don't want to, a new contract, it may be more expensive, it's not going to be the best gift. >> Tom: Yeah you don't want to anger them and cost them money. >> Kent: No it's probably not a good idea. >> Tom: If you find out what carrier they're on, are you stuck with buying them a phone just for that carrier? What about unlocked phones? >> Kent: Well if they use a GSM carrier which is AT&T or T-Mobile of course you can buy them an unlocked phone. You know an unlocked phone is a phone that has no settings to tie it to one carrier. We have one here, it's the Nokia N-95. >> Tom: Ah that's a nice phone. >> Kent: It is nice. It's got 1,000 features on it, it's kind of big but it is a Smartphone, it has a great camera, all sorts of really cool features but it's unlocked. So if you buy this phone you don't need to involve a carrier at all, you don't need to go to a carrier store or anything like that; just give it to who ever is getting the gift, all they need to do is pop in their SEM card, again, AT&T or T-Mobile and they can make calls. >> Tom: So if they're on AT&T or T-Mobile, you buy them a GSM unlocked phone. >> Kent: Yes. >> Tom: It doesn't matter about the carrier. >> Kent: Nope. >> Tom: So once you've got the whole carrier question taken care of, what are some good phones to give people and let's start with the iPhone because I know everybody is asking about that. Is it a good gift? >> Kent: It can be a good gift; it depends on I think the person. If you have someone who really wants something Apple, really wants something of a very slick product, what's new, what's talked about, it can be a very good idea because it is a good media player on the phone absolutely. Just remember it's a locked AT&T and it requires a special AT&T contract so if they don't have that, then they're going to have to get one. >> Tom: Okay so and this is different than other phones so even if they're already on AT&T they'll need a new contract. >> Kent: They will have to switch over. >> Tom: Still a little pricey at 400 bucks. What are some other options that may be not so hard on the pocketbook but still good gifts? >> Kent: Here we have the LGVX-8350, this is a Verizon phone, very good phone, multimedia wise, it also makes good calls which is important of course. You do have some buttons down here that are for music players; you can actually by and download music over the air on this phone. >> Tom: Oh you can download it direct from the air to the phone; no need to sync it that's good. >> Kent: Sure. Verizon's new system costs extra of course, and it has a camera. Just a pretty nice simple design, very easy to use, but really good performance as well. >> Tom: I mean it's nice but it's not flashy. You got something a little better than that. >> Kent: No it's not, it's not. I have something a little flashier. We have the Sony Ericsson W-580 and I have actually attached a couple of speakers to it. These are an accessory they call the Sony Ericsson MPS 70. >> Tom: But you have to buy those extra? >> Kent: Yeah, you do but they fit most Walkman phones. Just slide it up there. This is an AT&T phone. It works with anything with the carrier; it is a Walkman phone so it is very big on music as well. Sony Ericsson's done a good job with their music phones and the speakers are kind of cool because even though they're small you can take them anywhere. I'll just do a little demonstration. They have a pretty good output for their size. You can spread them apart and do all kinds of things. So it's kind of cool for just taking them around and taking them to the beach or away for the weekend or something like that. >> Tom: Yeah plus phone accessories are probably another good idea for gifts where you don't have to deal with the carrier so much. You just have to know what phone they have. >> Kent: Right. Like a Bluetooth headset or speakers or anything like that. That's always a very good idea. >> Tom: Thank's Kent. I appreciate you getting us started with a few examples. If you want more examples of good cell phones you can give as gifts head to our gift guide, holiday.cnet.com. I'm Tom Merritt. Happy Holiday. ^M00:03:43 [ Music ] ^M00:03:47