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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Web Wednesday: Scratch Wireless's easy & free mobile media streaming solution

Film Flam Flummox

Over the last decade or so, for many, primary use of cellular phones has migrated gradually away from actual voice calling and more toward various data uses--especially for more media-minded tech users such as myself, where the need for text and multimedia capabilities on the go outweigh that for phone calling. So for those whom actual voice calling is of distinct secondary need for mobile service, the new, no-catch, free wifi-based mobile solution provided by Scratch Wireless is one that data-centered users, particularly those who do a lot of entertainment streaming on the go, is one definitely looking into.

Most coverage of Scratch Wireless thus far has centered on its usefulness as either a back-up phone or as one parents can use for their children, and undoubtedly the service is a remarkably easy and incredibly inexpensive way to cover both. A one-time upfront fee of $269 buys one an Android 4.1-powered Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE smartphone, with no required cost thereafter for ongoing service. All phone calls, incoming and outgoing, and data connections are free over wifi connections; and all text messaging is 100% free, whether connected to wifi or not--making the Photon Q a cannily appropriate choice as their flagship handset, given it is the most advanced and one of the last remaining Android units with a full, slide-out, physical QWERTY keyboard. With free wifi hotspot access becoming all the more commonplace at businesses and public places, this basic service leaves one well covered for most mobile communication needs (especially with the 100% free anywhere text capabilities), but should anyone need non-wifi voice calling or data access, data passes for each are easily purchased for either $1.99 for 24 hours (up to 30 minutes for voice and 25 megabytes for data) or $14.99 for 30 days (up to 250 minutes for voice and 200 megabytes for data). Hopefully a discounted combined call and data monthly pass option will be offered in the future, but the lack of one at the moment is hardly a dealbreaker. With the just-enough, if not more than enough, service that can reliably had for free, Scratch is an economical and durable option for a back-up phone or even a home landline replacement, not to mention one for parents to give their children as a first cell phone, given the built-in moderation that comes from being wifi-focused.

But that wifi focus also makes Scratch Wireless a great tool for multimedia-minded tech users, especially those who regularly stream music and or video content. Any savvy streamer knows better than to use expensive, and quickly expiring, cellular data for their entertainment needs (not for nothing can one witness many people donning headphones watching laptops or tablets at any local Starbucks, obviously taking smart advantage of the complimentary wifi) so a Scratch smartphone, with its reliable service on any wifi network, technically efficient processor and display, and pre-installed Android and Chrome browsers and YouTube app--with many other free video and music streaming apps available on Google Play--makes for a cheap and convenient mobile option to listen to and/or view streaming entertainment options on the go without lugging around a laptop or carrying around a bulky tablet. That one can also make any calls for free while wifi connected or text anywhere just makes for an attractive bonus. If there is one limitation, especially given the increasing social media involvement element with entertainment streaming, it's Scratch's thus-far lack of support for SMS short codes that would make posting to social media networks all the easier, but given how on the ball the service and company is so far, I'm certain it's only a matter of time before it is offered.

Learn more about Scratch Wireless and begin your free service at the official website.

(Special thanks to Jon Finegold)

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