It seems not a week goes by without a new offer for people looking to save money using new smartphone technology.
FreedomPop has a $99 mobile broadband device that is actually a case for the iPod Touch. With the Freedom Sleeve Rocket, you can set up your own hotspot for free and make calls (via VoIP) like an iPhone. A similar sleeve is available for the iPhone 4/4S.
"The company will give customers 500 MB of free data per month, with the ability to get an extra 10 MB for each friend they sign up for the service, for a total of up to 1 GB of free data," according to FierceWireless.com. "Customers can also pay overage charges of 1 cent per MB, or $10 per GB, beyond that."
In order to use the Freedom Sleeve Rocket, you simply need to set up a Google Voice number and, via an app, that becomes your phone service on the iPod Touch.
I've been testing this thing and the data network it uses is fast where it's available, though not very widespread in coverage. Therefore, I'm recommending the Freedom Sleeve Rocket for somebody who wants a smartphone for occasional use without the big monthly bill, or maybe even a tween.
So you get the iPod Touch for around $150, the FreedomPop device for $99, and suddenly you're in the game for $250 with a no-contract poor man's iPhone.
The idea of this is so much a part of where web stuff is going in the wireless world. In the past, we thought that all we had was what the Big 4 wireless companies offered, but more and more players are coming in to rain on their parade and this is an example of it.
Meanwhile, I've been testing the Nexus 7, the new $199 tablet from Google. At that price point, it's around $300 cheaper than the iPad. But is it better?
Well, it's half the size of an iPad, meaning it would fit well in a women's handbag. It displays both video and magazines beautifully, and it has a built-in camera for web chat. But it does not represent newspapers with the same beauty of the iPad. Plus, it's available only to use at wifi, so it does not have the cellular connectivity that you have with fancier models of the iPad.
But for those who want a tablet and don't have a spare $500 laying around, this may be it!
If you have an upcoming event you want to publicize, there's now a free way you can make an app and instantly put it out there for both Apple and Android smart phone users.
Yapp.us is a new startup that allows you to create and publish a mobile application in just minutes at no cost to you. The company operates under a freemium model, offering basic functionality for free and an upgraded user experience for a $5 annual fee. (Yes, just $5!)
Making an app on Yapp is ideal for gatherings like weddings, conferences, reunions, classes, book clubs, fundraisers, parties, and more.
For example, my high school reunion is coming up and I'm on the organizing committee. We were talking about how to use social media to drive people to the reunion. By setting up a Yapp with reminders, pictures, and updates, it will probably increase the attendance.
I've already asked one of my web producers, Kate, to set up a Yapp for Clark's Christmas Kids, my annual toy drive for foster children. She was able to do it in 7 minutes.
To view and download the app, type in or click this link: http://my.yapp.us/GBH2CQ, or scan the QR code to the left with your mobile phone's barcode reader.
That's the beauty of Yapp. It's essentially like using a blank template that you just pop your own text and images into. My Christmas Kids app has a schedule of all the events, it connects to my Twitter feed, it has a gallery where we can load different pictures from the events, and so on. All in a very simple, artistically pleasing interface.
Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, it's still possible to get great deals if you just let the calendar be your guide.
Retailers typically do 40% or more of all their annual sales during the Christmas shopping selling season. But the deals they offer are concentrated heavily at two times -- early in the season and then much later on.
So don't fall for the ploy where you see stores promoting sales that are actually non-sales! In general, the deals won't pick back up again until mid-December.
Clothing won't go on sale again until between Dec. 10 and 15. December 17 is a key date, particularly for seasonal goods. That includes women's robes, men's belts, wallets -- basically anything you buy where you're clueless about what to buy that person!
With electronics, the great deals are pretty much already in the bag, though you may see additional steals with a big push around Dec. 14 and 17 that may come with free shipping in time for Christmas delivery.
And then what about the week between Christmas and New Year's Day? It used to be a deal, but now it's frightfully expensive because of the popularity of gift cards.
People want to do their returns and spend their gift cards while they're out shopping that week. Plus, you have people off from school and work who are hitting the stores. So that is a lousy week for deals.
When the calendar flips, you have another opportunity for real markdown bargains that starts Jan. 7. Anything left at that point will be deeply discounted until they can clear it off the shelf.
Meanwhile, Savings.com has compiled a helpful infographic if you want to drill down to type of deal for the exact day during the holiday season.