How to Choose the Right Brand of Television Media Streaming Device.

Many guests of the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Target come to the store looking for a television media streaming device.  They are met with several brands to choose from and do not know which one to pick.  Luis Arquillo, who works at the Target has some advice for those wondering which brand to select.  “The major brands of television media streaming device are Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku.  The bottom line is if you already have memberships, accounts or other equipment with any of the four brands that is probably the brand of streaming device you should purchase” said Luis.

Luis went on to say, “if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, or perhaps you own an Amazon Fire Tablet or Amazon Echo then the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Fire TV would be the best choice.”

“Or if you own music or movies in an iTunes account or own an iPhone or iPad then the Apple TV or Apple TV 4K makes the most sense for you,” said Luis.

Luis explained that if you consume most of your media through Google and the Google Play Store, then a Google Chromecast device makes the most sense.  This choice is especially true for those that already own a Google Home device.

Luis then went on to explain, “that if you aren’t already enjoying the products or services of Amazon, Apple, or Google, then perhaps a Roku device is for you.”

“Except for playing music and movies on iTunes, a Roku supports all the other major streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube.  Besides, if you happen to be a Spectrum or Xfinity cable subscriber, only on a Roku can you load their services streaming app and avoid the monthly fee for the cable box you would otherwise need,” he said.

If you are using products or services from more than one brand, say for instance you own an Apple iPhone but use the Google Play store to consume your music and movies then choosing gets more complicated.  “I recommend you try to find someone who already uses an Apple TV or a Chromecast to try them out.  Go with whichever experience seems better for you.  Perhaps you’ll like the way one device works over the other”, Luis told me.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to take any of these devices for a test drive before investing in one.  Unfortunately, the store does not have any demonstration models.

“If you are flying blind then I recommend you go and read some of the reviews for these devices that you can find online,” said Luis.  “The online reviews might leave you with a better feeling for one brand over the others.”

“If cost is a deciding factor then I recommend you go with a Roku which has the lowest entry price point,” Luis concluded.

Noah Reynolds who also works at Target and is a veteran Xbox player had an alternative solution in mind.  “I recommend you use an Xbox One as your streaming device,” Noah said.  “An Xbox One costs a minimum of $229, way more than the streaming device alternatives already discussed but in addition to being used as a streaming device, you can use it to play all the latest video games.  An Xbox One is how I roll,” he added.

Photo of media streaming device section of the Elizabethtown, Target store with the display above and devices below.  Taken 3/25/2018 by Dennis P. Collins with an iPhone X.

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Photo of Noah Reynolds holding an Xbox One while standing in front of the Xbox display at the Elizabethtown, Target.  Taken on 3/25/2018 by Dennis P. Collins with an iPhone X.

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Target Guests Cannot Always Use Their Current Phone On Consumer Cellular

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Many Target Guests who are would be Consumer Cellular customers are fooled by the half-truth of Consumer Cellular advertisements.  The bottom line is not all Consumer Cellular prospective customers can use their current phone.  If the Consumer Cellular prospects phone is locked or it was built for use on either the Sprint or Verizon networks known as CDMA it will not work with Consumer Cellular.

Not a week goes by that a Target guest doesn’t come in wanting to bring their own phone (BYOP) to use on the Consumer Cellular service.  Some guests are able to make the transition while others are not.  The homepage of Consumer Cellular’s website, in bold print it reads “An easy way to switch — use your own phone with our free SIM card.”  Further down the page in much smaller print it says:

“Now you can use your own phone with our FREE SIM card. It’s quick and easy, and there are no activation fees. To be compatible, your phone should be a Consumer Cellular phone, a phone previously used with AT&T or T-Mobile, or an unlocked GSM phone.”

Many Target guests never read that part of the page, or if they do, they simply assume that their phone is compatible.  However, a whole host of mobile phones are not compatible with the Consumer Cellular network.  Most notable of incompatible phones are phones that were previously used with either Sprint or Verizon or one of those two companies’ regional affiliates or prepaid virtual affiliates.  There are many affiliate phone companies such as Boost Mobile, Bluegrass Cellular, Virgin Mobile, Great Call, Kroger i-wireless, NetZero, Patriot Mobile, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, Total Wireless, Tracfone, Walmart Family Mobile, Xfinity Mobile that operate on either Sprint or Verizon (CDMA) towers that won’t work with Consumer Cellular.  Many guests holding these incompatible phones feel deceived by the ads, but there is nothing the Target representative can do except offer to sell them a phone from Consumer Cellular.

The second piece of the BYOP puzzle is that the phone coming from another network must be unlocked.  While it is possible to buy an unlocked right out of the box, that is not how most people purchase their mobile phones.  Even if the guest purchased their phone from AT&T or T-Mobile or one of their many affiliates, the guest must still have the phone unlocked to use it on the Consumer Cellular network.

Here is an example of how a guest will get in trouble.  They might see a Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2 for AT&T Prepaid on sale at Walmart for a low price.  The guest will think “hey that’s an AT&T phone that will be compatible with Consumer Cellular, I’ll get that phone.”  However, when guests buy a cell phone through another carrier, it is usually locked to that carrier for a year or two before they will unlock it.  With AT&T Prepaid, a user must have an account that is active and in good standing that has been active for at least 6 months before AT&T will allow the user to unlock the phone.  Cell phones purchased from Tracfone will have to have used their phones for 12 months before Tracfone will unlock them.  Below is a BYOP decision tree to keep Target Guests informed.

RIS BYOP Decision Tree

The Consumer Cellular BYOP program is fraught with challenges and potential pitfalls that often trip up the Target guest who is a would-be Consumer Cellular customer.  When in doubt either call Consumer Cellular and ask about the cell phone in question or visit the local Target and speak to someone in the electronics department about the phone in question.

Yes, you have to charge your cell phone

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The title seems obvious but apparently not to everyone.  I had a very irate Target guest the other day.  She did not understand that you have to charge a cell phone.  She thought you could just use it and never have to charge it.  I told her she would have to charge her cell phone before I could activate it.  The battery was completely dead on her phone, and it would not turn on.  I offered to have her charge it for a little while at the store, but she did not want to wait.

Just like most cars operate on gas and without gas, they won’t work, cell phones run on electricity and require the owner charge their battery.  Usually, you have to charge your cell phone daily.  Most people plug their cell phone in to charge while they sleep at night.  Some flip cell phones might only require a charging every couple days depending on usage.  The bottom line, however, is that you will have to charge your cell phone to use it.

A Note on Movie Release Dates

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A situation happened recently where a Target guest misunderstood a movie release date.  The guest was looking for the movie Coco by Disney.  I am writing this on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018.  The guest visited the store yesterday.  The guest had seen a commercial which they said claimed the movie would be available on 4K on February 13, 2018.  That’s where the confusion comes in.  They probably missed the word “digital” in the commercial.  They only reported hearing 4K, but digital can come in 4K.  Digital 4K or HD means the film is available to purchase and stream or download on services like Apple iTunes and Amazon Video.  When I Googled “Coco DVD release date,” this is what popped up:

Coco DVD and Blu-ray release date is set for February 27, 2018, and available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on February 13, 2018.

People see commercials on TV for the release of a movie, and all they hear is the closest release date.  However, you need to pay close attention to the details because the commercial will state if the release date is for digital or DVD or Blu-ray.  Usually, the DVD & Blu-ray disc release date is the same date.  Also, typically these days the Digital HD (including 4K) release date is two weeks before when the movie comes out on disc.  So, don’t be fooled by the confusion around movie release dates and have a disappointing experience at a retailer which does not yet have the movie available on disc.

Preparing to Make the Switch from Bluegrass Cellular to Consumer Cellular

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Every day, it seems people tell me they realize that they are paying more for their mobile phone service than they need to pay. When this happens, those people go shopping for lower-cost alternatives.

Many low-cost options for mobile phone service have come about in recent years. Three that come to mind are Consumer Cellular, Tracfone, and Straight Talk. At the same time as these low-cost providers were rolling out, many people however still stuck with their original provider on the same plan. They may have not even upgraded their phone over the years.

A common occurrence in Elizabethtown, Kentucky is Bluegrass Cellular customers who tell me they feel Bluegrass is overcharging them. They are looking to make a change. Making a move is possible but people looking to switch need to know a few things to make a smooth transition. To make a switch, you need to know about your phone and the account details of your current mobile service provider.

Bluegrass Cellular customers, especially those who are retired, and want to save money by switching to Consumer Cellular, first need to buy a new phone, according to Noah Reynolds, who works at the Elizabethtown Target.

“Bluegrass Cellular mobile phones operate on the Verizon network. Unfortunately, Verizon type phones and Sprint phones as well, operate using a technology which is incompatible with the Consumer Cellular network,” Noah said. “Only unlocked phones that are compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile will work with Consumer Cellular.”

“There are several excellent choices of mobile phones from which Consumer Cellular customers can pick,” Noah said. “Two are inexpensive flip phones.”

Noah said once a customer decides on a new mobile phone, the next choice is to keep or get a new phone number.

Luis Arquillo, another associate at the Elizabethtown Target, said that there are a few things to keep in mind if customers opt to keep their existing number. He said customers need to have their phone number, the Bluegrass account number, and the PIN or password used to access the account.

“It’s those last two pieces of information, the account number and the PIN or password that most people usually don’t know,” Luis said. “The Target guest will typically have to call Bluegrass or go to a Bluegrass store to get that information.”

Luis said Consumer Cellular needs those three pieces of information to prove ownership otherwise anyone could take that phone number without permission.

“Two more things,” Luis said. “First, when you talk to Bluegrass either on the phone or in person, be prepared for a very persuasive sales pitch to try to get you to stay with Bluegrass because they will suspect you are planning on switching carriers. Second, whatever you do, if you want to keep your old number, do not cancel your old service until your old number is working correctly on a Consumer Cellular phone.”

Noah said if customers cancel their old service even just five minutes before a successful port to Consumer Cellular, the customer will lose their old phone number.

“Be prepared in advance,” Noah advised. “Knowing what phone you want and having your Bluegrass account information with you makes for a smooth transition.”

Noah said the process is similar when switching from other carriers. If a customer’s old phone is compatible with the Consumer Cellular network, they can keep it. He said just to make sure it’s unlocked. If the old phone was built for the Verizon or Sprint networks, they need to get a new one.

Regardless of if your old service was Bluegrass, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint, you’ll still need those three pieces of information, phone number, account number, and PIN or password, to port your old number to the Consumer Cellular service.

For more information, contact Consumer Cellular at 1-888-502-0966 or stop by your local Target store. If you live near Elizabethtown, Kentucky you can even stop in and talk to Noah or Luis. The Elizabethtown Target is located on the corner of the Dixie Highway and Ring Road next to Herb Jones Chevrolet.

Want to switch to Consumer Cellular?

Cons Cell RatesBluegrass Cellular customers who are retired and only use their mobile phone to talk, could save money each month by switching to Consumer Cellular.

According to Luis Arquillo, who works at the local Elizabethtown, Kentucky Target, which sells Consumer Cellular mobile phones many retired consumers living in the Elizabethtown area don’t text, and they don’t use data.

“They just use a simple flip phone to talk to friends and family and could save a great deal each month by switching to Consumer Cellular,” Luis said.

Since Bluegrass Cellular is a local mobile phone service provider, many seniors in the local area use them as their provider, he said.

According to Arquillo, AARP members get a 5 percent discount on monthly rates, so they can get 250 minutes of talk time for $14.25 plus tax per month with Consumer Cellular.

Compare that to the minimum monthly bill with the popular local company Bluegrass Cellular, which is $40 plus tax per month. That’s a savings of over $25 per month, according to Luis.

Arquillo said a person can still save almost $25 by switching from Bluegrass to Consumer, even without the AARP discount.

‘For just $20 plus tax per month you can get an unlimited talk plan from Consumer Cellular, which is still a considerable savings over the $40 rate from Bluegrass Cellular,” he said.

But Arquillo advises that savings can disappear quickly if customers use the data by surfing the web, downloading photos or streaming video.

For the mobile phone customer who needs unlimited talk, unlimited texting, and 3GB of data per month, the cost of Consumer Cellular and Bluegrass Cellular are both $40 per month plus tax. Although an AARP member with Consumer would only pay $38 per month, so there is still a small savings potential with Consumer, according to Arquillo.

For more information on the price and plans available for both carriers, visit Bluegrass Cellular pricing and Consumer Cellular pricing.

Has this article peaked your interest? Next will be a discussion of what you need to have ready to make the jump from your current carrier to Consumer Cellular.