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Cell Phones for Laptop Users? 89

Posted by Cliff
from the sync-charge-and-dial-up dept.
ZiZ asks: "I'm looking for a cell phone that will do three things well: make calls, sync with my computer's address book/scheduler, and act as a wireless (3G) modem for my Apple laptop. I'd forgo the USB networking if I could, but my 12" Powerbook doesn't have a PC Card slot. I don't really care about Bluetooth one way or the other, so the question of what Verizon does or does not allow Bluetooth to do, for instance, doesn't really apply to me - I'd rather plug my phone into a USB port, have it charge up, sync, and connect me to the Internet. Unfortunately, most of the information floating around the web is all about Bluetooth's DUN, and almost none of it about USB charging or USB connectivity. What US carrier and compatible phone would you get to fulfill these simple tasks?"
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Cell Phones for Laptop Users?

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  • Verizon e815 (Score:4, Informative)

    by jokell82 (536447) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @09:30PM (#15209281) Homepage
    I'm using a Verizon e815 that has been "hacked" to allow more bluetooth functions. It works great as a bluetooth modem when I'm on the road.

    Howard Forums [howardforums.com] is a *great* resource when it comes to stuff like this.
  • by Flimzy (657419) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @09:40PM (#15209318)
    My main suggestion is to get a regular phone (as opposed to a pc card from Sprint, then get a USB cable. Why? I'm probably shooting myself in the foot here by posting this on Slashdot, but to my knowledge, they are the only company that gives you "free" unlimited Internet useage over USB.

    If you get their PC card, they charge you a hefty amount per month for Internet access. But if you get a USB cable (check eBay), which they don't officially admit exists, and sign up for their "unlimited" vision plan ($10/mo), you can use unlimited internet.

    This was my only Internet connection for nearly 12 months while I was unemployed. They never complained (altho the slashdot effect might change that now!)

    As for phones that let you sync... I have no idea. But I'm sure you can find one of those. That's just a feature I've never cared about.

  • by scenestar (828656) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @09:40PM (#15209319) Homepage Journal
    can be found here http://tuxmobil.org/phones_linux.html [tuxmobil.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @09:57PM (#15209403)
    I looked at Sprint vs. Verizon for 3G and chose Sprint becauses Verizon places limits on how you use the bandwidth (e.g., no video). Sprint doesn't, so for me that was a no-brainer.

    Synchronization for a Mac may not be straightforward, because we're dealing with proprietary Windows Mobile here. I need to synch to Linux so I'm in the same boat. Funambol [funambol.com] looks very promising for synching to the open standard SyncML, but I haven't had time to play with it yet.

    I have successfully used DUN over USB on my laptop (running Windows). I haven't yet tried it with Linux, but that's on my list of things to try. Sprint employs lossy compression on the EVDO connection using Bytemobile [bytemobile.com]'s software. It's most noticable on images, and is annoying. It's possible to disable it on a Windows laptop by installing Bytemobile's client. There may not be an equivalent Mac (or Linux) solution, but it also may not bother you that much.
  • by pintomp3 (882811) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:06PM (#15209432)
    tmobile lets you use your phone as a modem without extra cost too. i frequently use mine as a bluetooth modem.
  • Sprint (Score:4, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:22PM (#15209510) Homepage
    I'm not a big fan of Sprint (although I hear Verizon is worse), but they are my company so here is what I can tell you. I have used two phones with my 15" PB: the LG 325 (my current phone) and a Sanyo 8200 (I think that's it).

    When using a USB cable, you just plug the phone in and for the modem kind choose "Sprint PCS". The dial-up number is #777 and that's all there is to it. Works fine. The 8200 was very fast (ISDN speeds) where the LG is dial-up speeds (same area, same everything else). Things really do vary by phone.

    With Bluetooth on the 325, it is just like above only no cable. You just have to enable DUN on the phone each time, and turn the phone on and off in-between dial-up uses.

    It works ok. The 8200 worked quite a bit better. As for syncing phone data (contacts, etc) you are basically up the creek without a paddle. Neither phone does that (they also don't charge when you use the cable). I don't know of any that do (except perhaps the Palm/PocketPC ones) on Sprint. I've heard much better things about the kinds of phones one can get from Cingular on that point.

    Where is the iPhone when I need it?

    As for other help, the people on the Sprint Users forum [sprintusers.com] are nice and can answer almost anything.

    Good luck.

  • by Silas (35023) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:31PM (#15209543) Homepage
    Just FYI, I asked Slashdot pretty much the same thing [slashdot.org] about a year ago. Got some interesting responses, but I still haven't found a good enough recommendation to pursue. Hope that helps...

    Silas

  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric.brouhaha@com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:34PM (#15209553) Homepage Journal
    I'm looking for a cell phone that will do three things well: make calls, [...]
    You can find any other combination of features you want as long as you're willing to give up that first requirement. AFAICT, there are no phones that do that well. That's probably why they compete on how many other features they can cram in.

    I expect eventually to see a product announcement for an amazing new "cellular phone" that has an incredible set of features, but doesn't actually place or receive phoen calls.

    Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with the Treo 650. It makes calls about as poorly (or well, depending on your point of view) as any other cell phone, it syncs with my desktop, and it will act as a modem. Though it doesn't do EDGE or UMTS/HSPDA. I'm hoping that their next GSM Treo that runs PalmOS will do HSPDA.

  • Do expound (Score:3, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:36PM (#15209556) Homepage Journal
    Mine works fine for the OP's requirements. Bluetooth DUN on Verizon, good sync software available (Missing Sync for PalmOS). The camera is chintzy, but I don't know of a good camera built into a phone. Maybe it exists, but I carry my Sony T1 with me when I need quaity. Mine has 16MB of RAM which I believe is more than most phones, and it can take a 4GB SD card. The keyboard is small, but that's a tradeoff for pocket size. I'm going to pick up one of those projection bluetooth keyboards so I don't need to carry my laptop as often. Oh, and PalmOS is going Linux, so it'll be better this time next year. The interface isn't anything Apple could sell, but it's better than most phones I've tried.
  • Re:Verizon e815 (Score:4, Informative)

    by PaulK (85154) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:45PM (#15209592)
    It is against the Verizon TOS to tether any EVDO phone for access without a broadband plan. It's ok with the x1 only phones, (710, etc), IIRC.

    Whether you do it or not is entirely your decision, but people should not run out and buy an E815, razr, 8100, or 9800 for this express purpose without planning to spend a chunk of change.

    They have introduced a plan that will allow you to tether for an additional $59 per month. Story here [pcmag.com].

    I use the E815 as well; I love the BT obex under linux.
  • by Ke (8063) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:19PM (#15209744) Homepage Journal
    I just recently had my cell phone die on me, so I switched to T-Mobile and got a Motorola V360. This phone has bluetooth as well as the ability to act as a USB modem with a data connection (dial *999 or something, check online for the recipe to get connectivity). It supports EDGE as well as GPRS, and works with the cdc-acm linux driver. While it is not fully supported by moto4lin, I can use kdemobiletools to download my address book, make calls and send SMS messages. The phone needs to be switched to modem mode to be used this way, as the default is to provide USB mass storage access to the microSD card in the phone.

    So all in all, works better than I would've expected. As with anything, YMMV.
  • Re:Verizon e815 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fez (468752) * on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:36PM (#15209824)
    I've got an e815 from Verizon and I love it too. Apparently if you want the full bluetooth functionality on a Mac though, you have to first hack it on a PC.

    It's not against their ToS to use it as a modem to connect to a dialup ISP, it's just not very efficient, I haven't tried it myself but I've heard of people only getting 11k connections, with a theoretical max of 14.4k.

    It is sort-of against their ToS to use it to connect to their high-speed (144k) service. You run the risk that you *may* incur by-the-byte usage fees if you don't subscribe to the data plan. Reports vary about whether or not you'll ever be charged for this. I know some people who use it sparingly and never get charged. Others report that this only uses cell minutes off a NationalAccess plan as long as you're on a 1x network and not evdo.

    If you're feeling lucky: Use ##DIALUP on the phone to enable dial-up networking, and you can connect by dialing #777 - Username: yourcellnumber@vzw3g.com / password: vzw

    I have a PC, but I found this thread that talks about using Verizon dialup on a Mac:
    http://forums.macnn.com/showthread.php?p=2614216 [macnn.com]
    Which points to:
    http://stevenfettig.com/mythoughts/archives/000189 .php [stevenfettig.com]
    and
    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20050 501151747917 [macosxhints.com]
    Both of which have more info on using an e815 (or a v710, the e815's even more crippled little sibling) on a Mac, and with Bluetooth.

  • by Snwbeast (21484) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#15212829)
    I use Verizon with an LG VX6100 and can connect to their "Express Network" using only minutes. Since I have an unlimited nights/weekends plan this sometimes works out well for me when I travel. More details at: http://www.poremsky.com/p/verizonwireless.htm [poremsky.com]

    I can also sync using BitPim and a cheapo cable off ebay.

    -- C

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