With my recent purchase of the Sprint HTC Evo 4G, I’m on my third smart phone. It’s been quite an interesting ride.
The first one was an HTC PPC-6700, running Windows Mobile 5 with the original incarnation of Alltel EVDO, integrated WiFi, and a slide-out keyboard. The phone had terrible battery life, and the operating system was sluggish. I personally found the slide-out keyboard to be next to useless, and it’s presence made the phone too thick. On long phone calls or with intensive data usage, the phone could get hot enough to cause it to lock up or reboot without good ventilation. Nonetheless, I kept it for a couple of years, passing it on to one of my younger brothers when I was done with it.
Smart phone number two was a Sprint HTC Touch. It had the same sized screen, but was much thinner and sleeker. It had a bit better battery life than the 6700, but not by much, and no WiFi. The operating system was still a bit sluggish. Sprint and HTC upgraded it to Windows Mobile 6.1, and with the integrated GPS chip, it functioned with the included Sprint GPS Navigation software, which is actually quite good. For about a year and a half, I used this phone as my podcast aggregator (with a paid aggregator app) and playback device, which actually worked reasonably well. A $20 dollar keyboard app gave me an iPhone-style onscreen keyboard to replace the next-to-useless software keyboard included with Windows Mobile. I used this phone up until a few days ago, keeping it for about two and one half years.
Enter now the Evo 4G. I have to say this is probably one of the most impressive, satisfying gadgets I’ve ever owned, and that’s saying something. Compared to the HTC Touch, the Evo is about ¾ of an inch longer and ½ an inch wider and about the same thickness as the Touch. The Evo’s large touch screen is spectacular, and the Android operating system is extremely responsive and smooth regardless of how many apps I have running. The integrated WiFi hotspot is fantastic and works incredibly well, though it can cause the need to reboot the phone after downloading about 1.5 gigabytes of data. The Evo stays very cool while in use.
My conclusion? The best computer is the one that’s in your pocket.
It appears some idiot over at Sprint is going to kill the one good thing they have going for the company. They are going to put in a 5gb transfer cap on their EVDO service. I live on my Sprint EVDO connection during the weekdays. I have no idea how much I am transferring but it has to be quite a bit.
The Sprint EVDO service has been terrific yet they are going to kill the service with these caps. No longer will we be able to do remote Ustream events and a host of other things that we could before.
After a report came out last week that AT&T EVDO is faster than Sprint I might as well bail from their service and go to a service that has a faster connection. I swear this is one more of multiple stupid moves that Sprint has made in recent weeks.
Hopefully Sprint will listen to business users like me. If they don’t then I am going to be shopping for a new company to do business with.
Well my Sprint Novatel USB Ovation U720 arrived yesterday and after three tries with Sprint was able to get the ESN from my old card swapped to this new one. Overall the performance is great but I was surprised to see that the you have to use a Dual USB Port Dongle with the unit. Thus running the device on your laptop requires the utilisation of two USB ports.
The antenna access for the device is under the flip-up antenna and I am already concerned about the longevity of the card as looking down into the antenna port hole I do not see a lot of supporting material in and around the connection. Only time will tell if the external port will hold up or not.
This card is Rev A. capable but seeing Hawaii does not get Rev A. till the first of the year I will not be able to report on speeds. In download speed test the unit is comparable in transfer speeds of the PCMCIA version of this card.
I think the folks at Novatel would have been smart of they would have provided a power port for the USB card so as to allowed those that were using it in a permanent location to not have to use two USB ports to run the device.
I paid full retail for this card as I had existing service so I am hoping that in the long run this card works out ok. Meanwhile I have a Sprint PC-5740 card for sale if anyone wants to purchase it.
Update: The Novatel U720 does work with the Kyocera KR-1, I was concerned about this, but my testing here validates the KR1 works with the U720!
For about a year now I have had a Sprint EV-DO card that has worked well in all of the locations that I find myself in. But recently I changed offices which moved me from a outer wall in a building with few windows to inner office. I knew I was in trouble when the guys desk I was taking over for told me that if I wanted my cell to work I would have to place it about 20 feet from my desk on top of a cabinet.
Obviously when I plugged in my EV-DO card at my new desk the signal was non existent even though I had perfect reception at my old desk that was less than 30 feet away along with a couple of walls.
I started hunting online for an external Antenna and Amplifier solution. The more I looked the more I become concerned when I found many sites that sold Antennas and Amplifiers did not have a customer support line. With the price of most solutions just under $250.00 I wanted to talk to someone that had a clue.
I finally found one company that had a responsive customer, and a warm body I could call with any questions I may have. Ultimately I ordered a amplifier and antenna from Gordon over at Maximum Signal. Gordon was very helpful and the kit I purchased really did the trick and I have a usable EV-DO card again.
The amplifier – antenna combo raised my signal from like -110 to -85 db it’s not perfect but it’s better than not working at all.
Meanwhile I am hoping Sprint looks at the building and installs a commercial amplifier in it so that our cell phones will work. It really sucks in this day and age to be in a location where the thickness of the walls kill the mobile coverage.
If you need a solution that works I highly recommend using the folks at Maximum Signal!
I will have more to say though about a couple of popular EV-DO sites that I have some serious concerns about in their site information and sales transparency.
I am pretty excited that Sprint is launching EV-DO Rev A. in San Diego but was disappointed to see that Honolulu did not make there 2006 market roll-outs. If you live in a big mainland city you will be getting Revision A very shortly.
I have noticed here in Hawaii over the past two weeks that connectivity has been terrible and I actually went on dial-up this afternoon because it was slow. I am not sure what the issue is but the connection speed has really slowed down.
I have been very tempted to try a new wireless carrier here in Hawaii as they are advertising some impressive speeds and with no Revision A rolling out here soon. I may have to look into it.
I know that some Sprint Reps read this Blog so I am wondering if they can let me know when Honolulu is scheduled for roll-out and can you tell someone to check the tower that is close to Kanehoe because my connection has been really bad. [Sprint]
This is part of the Project Red product roll outs today
“Project (RED) – an initiative began by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money and awareness for The Global Fund to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa. Motorola and Sprint will both contribute directly to the fund for every phone purchased. Expected in early November, the Sprint RED MOTORAZR will be EV-DO-enabled and have access to content such as Sprint TV, NFL Mobile, Sprint Music Store, Sprint Movies and Power View. We can send images if you are interested. Customers are able to pre-register to be contacted about the device when available by visiting www.sprint.com/RED.”
Apple had their own Red iPod roll out today as well as reported last night on the Podcast. See the full press briefing from Sprint and Motorola
Ever since I got my Sprint EV-DO card back in January I have been a pretty happy camper. Then sometime after the first of the year Sprint sent me a cell phone to test as part of their Ambassador program it was their top of the line Samsung model with all of the bells and whistles. I loved some features of the phone. The one I liked the most was the camcorder, along with some of the media stuff. I started watching Fox News in the car while waiting for my wife to run errands time to time. But there were a few things I did not care about and blogged both pro and con here, and also sent in some pretty heavy feedback on the cost of some of the additional services.
My 16 year old daughter acquired the phone once for about a week. She loves it but she also liked the idea that she could check all those channels out for free. The price of some of the services did cause her concern as well.
This week Sprint sent out a new series of phones to some bloggers, and one of them just beat them up pretty bad. The experience I have had with my Samsung has been overall pretty good. But I am a media junky and find myself pulling it out in places that I would not have my laptop out just to get a news fix.
Overall though Sprint has won me back as a customer. My current plan with T-Mobile will expire at the end of the year and I will be moving all of my mobile services to Sprint. T-Mobile has some old data network that probably will never support high speed connectivity it’s to bad really as T-Mobile does have a great family plan. But hey I am a customer they will probably be glad to see leave as I burn all of my 2000 minutes a month now as it is. [JoelOnSoftware.com]
My moms house is 13 miles from the closest town were most of the major cellular services work. My mom business uses Verizon Wireless phones which is the only service that works reliably here at the house. I have a T-Mobile and Sprint cell phone in my pocket and neither of them even register a single bar of signal level. In order to get my VoiceMail I have to dial in via a land line or go to the second floor of the house and hang out a window.
Yesterday on a whim I plugged in my Sprint EVDO card into my computer and tried connecting to the sprint wireless network, even though their was no signal on the card it connected. I about fell out of my chair. Well it turns out that if I sit at the kitchen table which is next to a window the PCMCIA card will connect to sprint. I am getting transfer speeds that are a little slower than dial up.
To give you a idea my moms home is on a dirt road and will likely never get broadband via cable I doubt ADSL service will ever be available as well. This has made me realize that someday when Sprint and Verizon get their act together and get 3G or next gen wireless broadband speeds deployed to rural areas via their cell towers people like my mom will be able to get connectivity.
I have always told my parents that I would love to live in this area, we have land to build on but with no broadband there is no way I could operate my business. There is a huge untapped market of people here that are stuck on dial up in a broadband world.
Honestly I am pretty shocked that my EVDO service with Sprint works at this point even though it is at dial up speeds. The Samsung Sprint cell phone I am reviewing has no signal at all. I suspect if I stood on the roof I might get a signal with the handset. It is obvious that the antenna on the PCMCIA card is better.
I should have brought my wireless router that I can plug my EVDO card into as I would have tied it down on top of my dads 3 story barn to get a better line of site connection. Hey Sprint I would be happy to give you some land to put a tower up here at my moms place if you will give her free 3G broadband access as long as you have a tower here. Until then I guess I will have to deal with less than dial up speeds.
If you have been listening to my Podcast you will know that I have had a dilemma, since the acquisition of the MacBook Pro I have been scratching my head on how I was going to have them both connected to the net when I was on travel or on the move. Yea I am one of those nuts that travel loaded to bear. Well I have been using Sprint EVDO service now for about 8 months and while it is faster than dial up but not as fast as ASDL I really did not like the idea of buying another card or having to pay for another broadband account that just does not make sense.
So instead what I have done is picked up a Kyocera KR1 Mobile Router this thing is awesome and testing it tonight setup took about 5 minutes the evdo card plugged in turned power on setup the wifi and I was in business. This allows me to share one EVDO card with 2 computers.
The box was a bit pricey but rumors are on the street that Sprint is going to be coming out with a USB EVDO card so that you can easily swap them if needed. But I like the setup I have better now.
With the upcoming Podcast Expo we are going to need connectivity in the booth and this will be the perfect configuration in that we will be able to use the the Mobile Router to stay connected and demonstrate things live. This will allow people to setup there accounts etc straight from the floor. [Kyocera]