Wireless Phone Services

Calling all early adopters of cellular packet data services.

August 15, 2004

10 Min Read
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  1. What kind of mobile device do you use and why?

    • Frank Bulk: Cell phone, only when I'm desperate and there is no Wi-Fi.

    • Spencer: Samsung i600. Feature packed and compact. 95% of the time I need a phone for support. 5% i need a product to unlock user accounts or change security on a specific file folder.

    • Robert Dirth: Nokia 6820 because of its EDGE support, small size and cool fold out QWERTY keyboard. (How can you do email on a number pad??) With the email service I use (Nokia One), the smaller screen size is not a hindrance.

    • Tony Lee: Phone, Vehicle tracking modem.

    • Douglas Pereira: A laptop for "work related purposes".

  2. What kind of wireless data applications do you use?

    • Frank Bulk: Email, web

    • Spencer: Looking for remote server control for a windows smartphone O/S device

    • Robert Dirth: Using my Nokia 6820 phone I access my corporate email via a Nokia One server and some intranet web applications. I also will surf the net, checking weather, airline schedules, etc as needed.

    • Tony Lee: We do automated server availability status via SMS, mobile email, and for fleet tracking & asset management.

    • Douglas Pereira: 802.11b/g

  3. Have you used your cell phone as a wireless modem for your notebook computer? Cable or Bluetooth?

    • Frank Bulk: Yes, my cell phone, using a cable.

    • Spencer: No

    • Robert Dirth: Rarely. When traveling I usually need access to email and I am quite satisfied accessing my email using my phone while on the road. (Well, not while driving!

    • Tony Lee: Absolutely. Always cable though. Bluetooth has proven to be much more difficult than advertised. The cable always works 1st try.

    • Douglas Pereira: No.

  4. What is your level of satisfaction with performance?

    • Frank Bulk: Very slow, 19.2 kbps

    • Robert Dirth: The EDGE capabilities on AT&T really have improved performance.

    • Tony Lee: We're relatively impressed, given that it's wireless and ubiquitous. Now they just need to lower the rates so that we can do more.

    • Douglas Pereira: Could be better.

  5. If money were no object, what would you buy?

    • Frank Bulk: Definitely Verizon's PC 5220 with their 1xRTT/1xEVDO service.

    • Robert Dirth: A Porsche Carrera GT. (Editor's Note: Well who wouldn't Robert)

    • Tony Lee: Cingular GPRS Blackberry

    • Douglas Pereira: An Go-L Hollywood GoldXpress, an OC192 line,a linksys 802.11G router, a giant 50' radio antenna, and a top of the line web server to host my websites.

Kevin Cooke | Mike Fratto | Lori MacVittie

Kevin Cooke

  1. What kind of wireless data applications do you use?
    I use a Web browser (built-in Palm Blazer) as well as a few task-specific general lookup applications (MapQuest, directory assistance phone lookup, flight tracker, weather), as they are faster than traditional Web browsing. I also do some IM, and this has become my portable MP3 player too! But by far the most used application is e-mail--and I use two of them, as I can't decide which I like better at the moment. :-)
    First, SnapperMail 2.0 beta (www.snappermail.com), which has recently added IMAP and SSL support. I love everything about it except its speed. VERY slow. I've used other IMAP clients on the Palm, and so I suspect this is related to the beta and implementation, not the bandwidth.
    The second application I use is also a beta, from SEVEN (www.seven.com). This is the OEM behind Sprint's Business Connect Product. It's a BlackBerry and GoodLink-type product that allows for a very fast, full sync with IMAP, POP, Notes or Exchange. The personal edition uses a client that you must leave running on an Internet-connected PC to act as a shim between the SEVEN Service (a server) and my Treo 600. It works very well. It gives me fully synced e-mail, (calendar and contacts sync for Notes and Exchange), file access to a Windows directory on my PC as well as Web mail. IMHO, the only two issues with this are the need for a PC client and attachment support is poor.
    In all, I'd opt for the more native Palm-based IMAP client, if it were faster.

  2. What is your level of satisfaction with performance?
    I was really happy until I started using the Nextel service. If my phone were this fast, my head would explode!

  3. Have you used your cell phone as a wireless modem for your notebook computer? Cable or Bluetooth?
    Tried it... A bit of a hassle with all the cables and, ultimately, the performance is lackluster. And don't think I travel enough to justify a Wi-Fi hotspot account to justify the additional cost.

  4. And, of course, what kind of mobile device do you use and why. Oh, and if money were no object, what would you buy?
    I have a Treo 600 from PalmOne. I've tried the Windows-based phones/PDAs and will not go back in the near term. The snappy OS coupled with the huge third-party application world makes a Palm phone my ideal solution... I've been waiting for a true converged PDA/phone for years. This is not 100 percent, but it's the best I've found on the market.
    I'll answer the question another way, however. I think there's room for improvement. I'm hearing grumblings of a newer version of the Treo, codenamed "Treo Ace." The claim is that this unit will offer a faster processor, double the screen resolution, Bluetooth, a better camera (1.3 megapixil) and a host of other incremental improvements (blah, blah). Still not perfect, but close. Now if that device were on a 3.5G or 4G network, I'd be in heaven!

Mike Fratto

  1. What kind of wireless data applications do you use?
    I use Sprint. I have had the service since February and they have really good CDMA coverage.
    I use my Treo for e-mail, which is nice for keeping connected while traveling. I am still using POP3 and SMTP over SSL, but I might move to IMAP soon. The performance is fine for text-based stuff and the e-mail apps are pretty much configurable to only grab a portion of each e-mail.

    I do browse the Web a bit, but to be frank, viewing Web pages on a PDA is difficult unless the Web page is tailored for PDA access using either simple HTML or WHTML. I stopped grabbing images, so the load times are faster, but often times image maps and links with images don't have the ATL tag defined, so graphic menus are useless. Using a PDA for Web stuff really only makes sense if you're familiar with the site and can locate your data easily. The browsing experience is really defined by the browser. The Blazer on the Treo is really quite nice and does a decent job of rendering HTML. What would be cool is a clipping proxy that could dynamically convert pages from HTML to WHTML in a smart way.
    Odd as it seems, I do use SSH from my Treo to manage some of my Unix boxes. While I wouldn't want to live on it, I can do basic maintenance and it has saved me a boot-up while traveling.
    I use SMS when it is available. I can often get someone's attention quicker via SMS than e-mail. I am also starting to use SMS as a way to have some of the devices I manage alert me to problems. I will get notification quicker via SMS than e-mail. I have learned to be very careful, though, with SMS alerts. I SMSed myself into oblivion once when an alert kicked off every 30 seconds. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
    I have used Sprint's AIM interface mainly because I am too cheap to buy the Palm AIM client. It's OK, but SMS is better.

  2. What is your level of satisfaction with performance?
    For text, yes, it's fine. When loading graphics, the page can take a loooong time to load. Faster is better, but given the lack of good support for current Web pages, it's not that much of a big deal.

  3. And, of course, what kind of mobile device do you use and why. Oh, and if money were no object, what would you buy?

    I bought a Treo mainly because there are very few apps for the BlackBerry. If all I wanted to do was have a single PDA/phone with e-mail, SMS, contacts and calendar, then the BlackBerry would be my choice. However, I want to do more with mine (like the SSH stuff), so I choose a Palm-based device. I could have gone with a Windows CE product, but the phones were just way too big to hang off my hip and, again, I don't think there are as many apps for it. Money was an object, but since I am going to take it off my taxes as a business expense, well, it's not that bad. I do wish the Treo had Bluetooth and that Shure made a Bluetooth earbud. Nothing like trotting through the airport talking to someone and having the earbud ripped from your ear.

  4. General observations about the current market, technology and anything business-related are also welcome.
    These things are still priced a bit too high for consumers and the plans are ridiculous. Each one nickle-and-dimes you to death in different ways. The plan choices really come down to: 1) What packages can you purchase and 2) what options do you pay for? I found Verizon to have one of the worst plans, in general. For example, on Sprint, if you want unlimited Sprint-to-Sprint calling, you pay $5 a month more. That's just silly.
    A general observation: Before we actually have wireless Web, and this is beyond the control of carriers and phone makers, Web sites need to become more PDA friendly. I am surprised that the bigger sites like Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, etc., don't have a WHTML set of pages. Those sites are soooooo graphic heavy that they are virtually unusable on a PDA. I don't know of anyone who surfs the Web on a PDA on a regular basis or even who would.

Lori MacVittie

  1. What kind of wireless data applications do you use?
    E-mail on the BlackBerry, but only sporadically. I tried to use a mapping one on my phone. It sucked. By the time I got the map I needed on the phone it was too late. Not real-time enough.
    Nothing else because they are all too slow and the interface is painful.

  2. What is your level of satisfaction with performance?
    Not satisfied at all.

  3. Have you used your cell phone as a wireless modem for your notebook computer? Cable or Bluetooth?
    Played with the Sprint PCMCIA card on my laptop. It was ... acceptable in a pinch.

    Took it to Utah just in case, ended up ... leveraging an existing 802.11b network that was ... available. ;-)
    The Sprint modem thing ... backup, just in case.

  4. And, of course, what kind of mobile device do you use and why. Oh, and if money were no object, what would you buy?
    My phone and a BlackBerry (sometimes).
    I do not like the move to an RIM-style interface. The buttons are nearly impossible for me to use unless I want to cut back all my nails.
    Go ahead and laugh, but then think about that real hard for a minute. If it's cumbersome to use, they won't, and that's a huge segment of the market that's being overlooked.
    I prefer graffiti-based systems because of this, so if I get a smartphone, it's going to have to have some sort of graffiti.
    I absolutely detest cameras in a phone, MUST have a speaker phone and wish the phones would sync with Outlook or my Palm so the pain of switching isn't so horrible in terms of transferring data, which is the real reason a smartphone is appealing.

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