Arghh…more crippled mobile technology

This is old news to those people living on Engadget and eagerly anticipating any new mobile or wireless technology…but because I’m now serious about buying, I was pleased that Evolution Data Only (EVDO) (with 400-700kbps ‘broadband’ speed) has rolled out and there are pretty sweet gadgets out to boot.

This high speed, ubiquitous EVDO wireless footprint has come to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It also has also rolled out to most of the major cities where I travel. With this service, no more wardriving or hanging out at coffee shops to get high speed access. Wherever I am in a major metro area, I’d be connected.

I covet the Samsung i730 PocketPC/phone with Bluetooth/WiFi now available from Verizon. Though my current mobile voice/data service is with TMobile (and I appreciate their international telephony capability which I wouldn’t get with most other providers) I’d make a change to another provider in order to enjoy really fast wireless connectivity. I would use this i730 with my Powerbook instead of a PC (PocketPC is a Microsoft OS and doesn’t have software for the Mac) but I can use the fabulous PocketMac to completely control and sync this device. I’ve already goofed with the i730 at the Verizon store and it is FAST over EVDO and has a lot of cool features I’d love to use.

Here’s the problem: like all the carriers seem to have done, Verizon has crippled the phone so it’s a REAL challenge to make it work as a high speed data modem. The Bluetooth stack does not support EVDO data connectivity. Looks like there is a hack/workaround for USB connectivity but, of course, is unsupported by Verizon (I’ve emailed Verizon tech support to discover if the USB cable
connection is even an official option to make the i730 function as an EVDO modem).

In the past I’ve simply used Bluetooth with TMobile’s network and connected my laptop to my mobile phone and used it as a modem. Works fine, but TMobile’s GPRS connection is really slow. There are tons of hacks that people have done to get the i730 to work with the USB cable (PC only) but the Bluetooth communications software stack presents more of a challenge (expressed well in this Engadget post).

Verizon’s base level voice package plus EVDO is $79.99 (which makes the i730 go fast) or — if you have voice but want to buy an EVDO card for your laptop to access the high speed wireless network — it’s another $60. If I hope to stay married, I’m not spending $140 per month on voice/data connectivity.

Why do the carriers do this and why is it not seamless and supported?  It’s not like I’m going to simultaneously use the i730 and my laptop to connect to the ‘net so they’re not losing out or having their network hammered on.  I’ll use either one or the other…but not both at the same time. The only thing I can think of is that the bandwidth used by a laptop connection is so large that this is a way to cap usage. The result though is people work to hack the device and the service which does nothing but piss everyone off and frustrate legitimate users like me.

1 Comment

  1. Mike OConnor on September 2, 2005 at 6:08 am

    I owned the i730 for 12 hours. Sent it back after I discovered another way in which it is crippled — it can *either* be a phone *or* a WiFi device but not both at the same time.

    I bought it because I thought it could be my “untethered” device to shuttle podcast from the ‘net to my car stereo. I wanted it to just “figure out” that there were new podcasts, load ’em up, and let me play ’em in the car.

    No dice — no automagic way to do that. You have to disable the phone, enable WiFi (no easy task, many menus, unreliable connections) and live without your phone while the sync takes place.



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