I remember it well. Back around October of 2004, I first heard the word “podcast” used on The David Lawrence Show via my XM Satellite Radio. It sounded interesting, and I wrote it down on my driver logbook cover with the idea of looking it up later. I heard David mention it again once or twice over the next few weeks. Finally, in early December of 2004 I finally got around to looking it up. I found Adam Curry’s podcast, realized what it was, and knew that I felt compelled to not only listen to podcasts but get involved as a podcaster myself. This was exactly what I’d been looking for for many years – a wide variety of content that I could choose, download, and control the playback/consumption of on MY terms.
Podcasting took previously-existing elements and applied them with a new twist. MP3 files had already existed for a number of years. Virtually every computer already came with a sound card and had the basic ability to both play back and record audio. Portable MP3 players had been around for a while. Apart from Adam Curry’s and Dave Winer’s contribution of the podcasting concept and making it work, the one key element that suddenly made podcasting viable and actually inevitable was the fact that Internet bandwidth got good enough to make it practical.
Practical is an important key.
We have now passed another important milestone in terms of mobile bandwidth. Mobile bandwidth, while not yet perfect, has improved dramatically in both terms of data delivery and coverage. About three or more years ago I had experimented with streaming audio via my smartphone while driving my truck, and quickly determined that it wasn’t viable. I couldn’t listen long at all before I would lose the stream. No problem, I had plenty of podcasts to listen to.
I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about Pandora.Com lately, so last week I finally tried the Pandora Android app out on my new Sprint HTC Evo. To my surprise, it worked amazingly well – even in Arizona and the western third of New Mexico along Interstate 40 where Sprint still has 1XRT service. The streaming music sounded great, and the few times it did briefly drop out in a couple of mountainous areas, it automatically reconnected and reestablished the playback stream.
(By the way, a side note – I was surprised to learn that Verizon has NO data card coverage around the Kingman, Arizona area – my Verizon aircard would NOT connect in the Kingman area.)
Streaming radio via the Internet in a moving vehicle is now practical. Smartphones have also reached critical mass to the point where they are really beginning to move into the mainstream. Even though streaming Internet audio has been around for quite a few years at this point, I believe the automotive market for streaming audio is about to open up in a massive way.
Up until this point most people have felt that streaming Internet radio had plateaued or was only going to grow slowly. I believe that improved cell networks along with smartphone proliferation will create a new market for streaming audio services. The automobile has been the traditional stronghold of terrestrial and now satellite radio services. An old kid that’s been around a while suddenly has a big and growing shot at a new lease-on life.
I believe opportunities exist for streaming Internet radio stations that deliver highly specialized content. For us geeks, imagine a 24/7 tech-centric streaming station. The sky really is the limit. The cost of running a streaming station can be very low, so therefore it becomes possible and practical to narrowcast to relatively small audiences.
I’ve been living with my HTC Evo now for a few weeks, long enough where I can make a few informed observations about the device.
The Evo’s 4.3 inch multi-touch screen is superb. I’ve been surprised by the brightness and readability of the Evo’s screen even in a vehicle or outdoors in sunlight. The screen is big enough to be useful, yet the device still fits into a regular shirt pocket.
The Evo is fast and responsive. It seems that no matter what programs are open, the Evo remains just as responsive — there’s no wait for programs or configuration screens to pop open. The other smart phones I’ve owned in the past are dog-slow and sluggish by comparison.
The HTC’s “Sense” user interface that sits on top of Android is a winner. Popular social networking sites are slickly integrated right into every aspect of the phone’s functionality, making it possible to share most everything you can think of with a couple of taps.
The WiFi hotspot feature is also a tremendous convenience. It does have its quirks though. I’ve found that if I have opened up a bunch of different applications in the course of using the phone, if I then open up the WiFi hotspot feature, something will go wrong after a few hours and turn off the battery’s charging circuit. Something I have installed and am running may be causing this to happen. If I reboot the phone and then run the WiFi hotspot feature, this problem doesn’t occur and the battery keeps charging when it’s plugged in to AC power.
The integrated GPS is able to quickly find a signal. There are two GPS navigation choices that are included – Google Navigation and Sprint Navigation. Both work exactly as expected. I find myself making the most use of Google Navigation and Google Maps. The ability to search for businesses in a local area based on the phone’s own GPS location is extremely useful and I typically find I use that feature several times a day.
4G is currently not a good reason to buy an Evo because 4G coverage is currently extremely limited. This situation is in the process of changing. In the meantime, I’m happy with Sprint’s 3G coverage. I knew about this 4G limitation going in to getting this phone, so it’s not a problem for me. In reality, it’s likely going to take two or three years before 4G is widely deployed. I’ve been a Sprint data customer for more than 5 years, so I’ve witnessed (and lived with) the process firsthand of them going from 1XRT service that was limited to the eastern half of the country to widely-deployed EVDO Rev “A” 3G service.
Android is light years better than Windows Mobile 5, 6 or 6.5. When Android needs to pull data from the Internet it quickly pulls it without fuss or muss. All the versions of Windows Mobile I’ve dealt with have a “Dial-up Networking” routine they have to go through just as if it was a desktop computer connecting via a modem, which is slow and sometimes prone to fail. Windows Mobile data connections must be manually closed when not in use or they can drain the battery. Android just does what you expect it to without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
The Evo’s main 8 megapixel camera is very good, and the interface allows instant uploading of photos to services such as Flickr and Facebook. The front-facing camera will work with a free program called “Fring” that will allow two-way video conferencing, but I’ve found Fring’s interface confused and somewhat unreliable.
Sprint appears to be blocking the uploading of videos recorded on the phone even through the phone’s integrated browser when signed in to YouTube. However, I was able to email a video as an attachment to my YouTube account.
The Evo’s “HD video” recording capability is not anywhere close to HD standards. Furthermore, the sound quality of recorded video and audio is quite poor. The Evo is not a replacement for a real video camera. It is only fair to note here that all iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads have superior audio recording capabilities. Also the iPhone 4’s HD video recording capabilities are obviously quite superior to the Evo’s.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the HTC Evo. That being said, keep in mind that it requires expensive voice/data plans if you wish to take advantage of all its capabilities. Furthermore as a two and one half year plus Sprint customer I’m satisfied with the quality and speed of the Sprint network.
Posted by geeknews at 10:30 PM on December 6, 2009
Over the past 4 years I have been a subscriber of Sprint 3G/EVDO service here in Hawaii and have traveled extensively with the service. Up until last week I was using Novatel U720 card which in Hawaii and almost everyplace I went was able support 1550 kbps Down and 500 kbps up.. This was the speed I was able to achieve in almost any Sprint market.
Wanting to get in on the 4G / WiMax action I ordered the Sprint U300 card which is dual purpose 3G/4G or as they call it WiMax.
When I put the card in 3G mode and connect to the internet and do a speed test my speed has dropped of to unacceptable levels. Now remember with my old card I was getting 1500 down and 500 up. Here is what I am getting on the new card on the old 3G Network.
Can you believe that crap.. This is the speed I got out of the card here in Hawaii, Dallas and Austin.
So lets look at performance of Spring WiMax / 4G for the Hawaii which was turned on 6 days ago.
Not bad and I am happy with the new speed but the question remains why did the speed drop of with the 3G portion of the card. Well I have been doing some test and it is the card. The Sprint U300 is a piece of crap for 3G. Sadly the U300 has no antenna port either? I am at a toss-up on what to do.. I may cancel the 3G service for this card and sign up for a second account that is 3G only with the other card. This way I can still get high-speed 3G when I travel to non WiMax /4G areas.
I would love to talk to sprint on this and see if they can make me happy. My advice do not upgrade to the U300 card unless you are willing to never get any value out of the 3G connection.
We have a winner of a crispy $100.00 bill listen to see if you won. Pet tragedy today here at the house, resulting in a late start to the show. Lost of tech news and I have fun at the expense of some of the highest paid executives in the country.
Posted by geeknews at 10:14 PM on January 26, 2008
I have been watching the OQO for over a year now and their Ultra Mobile PC’s are some of the best out their in the market today. So when I got a chance to interview them at the Consumer Electronics Show I could not pass the booth by. What I like the most about this Ultra Mobile PC is the ability to get additional third party batteries for it that extend batter life on the unit.
It has built in EVDO for either Sprint or Verizon making it the perfect device for streaming from anyplace with a decent EVDO connection. I want one of these devices pretty bad.
To get more information about the OQO and possible special offers please visit www.rawvoiceoffers.com and enter the keyword OQO or visit their website at www.oqo.com
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!
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]
Posted by geeknews at 3:35 PM on December 29, 2005
Well I am glad Sprint has a 14 trial period, I am sad to say both of the locations I needed 3G service in only has 1G and I’m not paying $79.99 for that. One of the main Sprint Representatives swore to me that the areas I needed where covered. Well guess what he was wrong.
I drove all over trying to find a 3G signal, I actually had to drive 5 miles before I picked up the service. I can understand a mile or so but 5 miles from where they claimed the service was. Pisses me off that I spent a couple of hours getting the service setup. It’s better than dial up but not that much better.
We live in a digital world and these companies better hurry up and get their service rolled out to bigger areas I and many others need high speed 24/7 not just when we are at home.
Posted by geeknews at 3:46 AM on December 28, 2005
Ok I have been playing with a Sprint EVDO card this evening that is activated and on a 14 day trial. The Sprint sales representatives did not have any Maps but a person I met a couple of weeks ago said the two areas I need coverage in are covered. It appears that the first location which is close to the Stadium is good to go. I am seeing transfer rates of 386K on some of the speed test.
But when go and do some FTP download test I am not so sure what the speed is as I am only seeing 14k transfers where my cable connection is pulling the same data at about 400K big difference. I will be giving this card a workout thats for sure and will be pushing the 14 day satisfaction guarantee trial.
If anyone has access to Sprint Hawaii EVDO coverage maps I would love to see what Sprint is claiming.