advice for new member on phone...

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http://androidforums.com – Hi It's a rainy blue Monday here outside of DC and I decided to search for a forum w intelligent members. Found this one! Hope you don't mind my ?'s and I hope I am posting in the correct place... I am a 50 yr old creative guy not real tech savvy, but manage to operate a powerbook and smart phone ok! I have cheap entry level phone through Straight talk. The ZTE Merit. Works just okay so I would like to find and buy a crrier free phone and use it on ST as I like the $45 monthly fee and I don't use too much data... Can anyone recommend to me a few good phones that I might be able to buy throug (General)