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3G Notebook In Review 70

An anonymous reader writes "Just found this review of a notebook with integrated 3G. It looks like you just slide a 3G sim into the machine and you get 3g data connectivity, it even drops down to edge or gprs if there's no 3g. The rest of the spec looks pretty awesome too with a 2.16ghz core duo chip and 2gb of ram. I want one of these! " Given my recent woes of getting my Nokia 6682 to actually work as a UTMS/EDGE modem for my Powerbook, the notion of integration is a really nice sounding idea.
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3G Notebook In Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:00AM (#15189920)
    March 2006 -- []
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:01AM (#15189925)
    in both America and Europe with the proper SIM card?
    • Depends (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gregarican ( 694358 )
      I know from my experience that U.S. Cingular's capabilities would be limited. They are building out their 3G network in America while Europe's 3G network is based on a totally different frequency (1900 MHz UMTS versus 2100 MHz UMTS). Not sure of other U.S. cellular providers that would be in similar situations, such as T-Mo and others. In Cingular's case the International roaming agreements aren't formally in place now and data charges are at $0.85 USD per kilobyte. Ouch!
      • Exactly; it doesn't matter in the slightest what hardware is available, because Cingular refuses to offer a reasonably-priced data plan anyway!
        • Re:Depends (Score:4, Informative)

          by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:37PM (#15190672) Homepage Journal
          *shrug* I pay $19.99 for unlimited data transfer... seems like a bargain to me.

          I did have to learn the hard way though that the US and Europe's UMTS frequencies are different. Which really kind of upset me since the Sony Ericsson V802SE is an overseas phone so of course it operates on 2100mhz. The band issue is because 2100mhz isn't available in all areas, so they had to go with 1900mhz. Go FCC!

          Anyway, be careful when shopping for a UMTS phone as most of them will be for 2100mhz. To my knowledge, at the current moment there are only 2 1900mhz UMTS phones out which are the branded ones at Cingular. I just got the LG U340, works pretty well as a phone and fantastic as a modem. With my MacBook using bluetooth to connect to the Internet through UMTS, I get speeds of 35-40KBps and it bursts up to 45-48KBps. Not too bad for coming from GPRS which tops out for me at about 6KBps.

          There are dual band UMTS phones planned... one of them is the Nokia N80. Looks like a sweet phone but me needing instant gratification, just went with what was available. So if you want a true "world phone", you'll have to wait for one of those.
        • Since Cingular's International data roaming agreements aren't completed yet (ETA of next month I was told) who knows exactly how (un)reasonable the rates will be. If they are anywhere along the lines of T-Mo they will be around $0.05 per KB or something. It's more than just the handset hardware end of things in terms of incompatibilities. If a whole European 3G network infrastructure is based on 2.1 GHz while the U.S. is largely based on 1.9 GHz then it's like smashing a square peg into a round hole.


      • Why not use a Hong Kong SIM for data roaming? Three HK only charges about HK$.11 per kilobyte (about $.01US) for data roaming in other countries. I do that in certain countries-get a HK SIM card and use that to surf the web when I'm in France/Italy/wherever in Europe/Asia (Except for China where I have a data plan that is about $1 for 25MB data and overage of $1.25 per megabyte)
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:05AM (#15189961)
    Part of your woes may be that the Nokia 6682 doesn't support UMTS.
    You want the Nokia 6680 for that. It's the same phone with one of the GSM bands dropped for UMTS and a VGA phone in the front for video phone calls.
  • by merdaccia ( 695940 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:05AM (#15189962)
    Does that ring highly inconvenient with anyone else? Unless you have a dedicated 3G SIM card just for your laptop, you have to reboot each time you put in or take out the card.
    • I think the assumption is, if you can afford a £2000 laptop basically for the sole reason that it has 3G connectivity, you can damn well afford another SIM card and mobile plan for it.

      Just be glad you can even change it. I think there are some laptops here in the States, either currently in production or in the pipeline, which are designed for data use on Verizon's EV-DO network; Verizon, of course, doesn't use 3G and doesn't use SIM cards. They use CDMA and each device has a hardcoded identifier, lik
      • I really don't see the advantage of this at all. I have a 3G 'phone and Bluetooth works fine. I can use the data service from both my PowerBook and my 770 without any issues. In the absence of a 3G service, it falls back to GPRS. If I want to change carriers, I can do so easily, and I can use the same service for data and voice (although not at the same time).
        • Agreed. Although I haven't used it for any length of time (I set it up once as a sort of proof of concept to myself, for a few days) I can do the same thing with my iBook and my Motorola Razr. If I ever get put on a travel position, I'll call TMobile and get the unlimited data plan added to my line, and all I have to do is make sure the phone is turned on and within BT range of my laptop.

          A builtin card is a step down, IMO, unless it could be cloned to use the same account as the phone, or unless for some re
          • you cant work while you take phone-calls
            you drain your cell battery if you work for 3 or 4 hours
            you have to set the shit up
            with windows sometime it works then you reboot and it wont
            big issue if you work for 20 or 30 min in a train and you have to spend 5 minutes to see it failed then another 5 to fix it
            i use a globetrotter umts / gprs / wlan card which is sold by the phone carriers with their logo on it
            it works with windows and linux
            i got no powerbook so i dont know about mac
            the windows software is
        • Your Bluetooth works fine because your UMTS connection to the phone runs at 384kbps. Newer networks use HSDPA, which will offer near 2mbps. Most Bluetooth phones (even the newest, like the Nokia N90/92 series) only offer Bluetooth 1.2, which can't handle this. It'll take Bluetooth 2.0 in both the phone and laptop to get a 2.1mbps data stream.
          • I can get 50KB/s throughput from my 'phone via bluetooth, which is more than enough when I am mobile. I don't see it as replacing a real broadband connection (the average latency of around 2 seconds and the cost put pay to that idea), but for IM, email and some light browsing it's more than enough speed.
      • Verizon, of course, doesn't use 3G and doesn't use SIM cards

        I'm quite certain that EV-DO is considered a 3G technology. However, it is different than the WCDMA technology used by some other providers. It's just that EV-DO (and CDMA in general), seems to be designed to take advantage of the limited frequencies available in the USA/North America. (Namely, the signal needs to fit into a 1.25MHz band). UMTS/WCDMA was designed to use a 5MHz band, which was being opened up in Europe for this technology.
      • To clarify, 3G is a specification for wireless data speeds, EVDO, EDGE, UMTS, and HSDPA are all 3G. I think technically 1xRTT is 3G but it is at the lowest end that some people call it 2.5G. EVDO, UMTS, HSDPA, and 1xRTT are based on a form of CDMA, UMTS and HSDPA of course using SIMs just like GSM/GPRS/EDGE.
    • And no simultaneous voice and data, which is one of the cooler things about UMTS if you ask me. I can still talk on my phone while keeping a live Internet connection to my laptop.
    • No, really. Hit the sleep button. Pop out battery. Do stuff (like swap a SIM card). Replace battery. Resume laptop.

      Works on my two-year-old Powerbook. I assume all new laptops have this feature by now.
  • Does it run Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:08AM (#15189981) Homepage Journal
    No, I'm serious; the review has a lot of big pictures and easy-to-read language, but it doesn't even once mention an OS. With this amount of built-in wireless stuff (3G, 802.11, Bluetooth), you've basically got yourself a very expensive brick if you can't get drivers for it. There's no information on what chipsets it uses for any of this.

    I noticed that there's a Windows key on the keyboard, and in the absence of any other information I guess we're just left to assume that your only choice is the Beast From Redmond.

    Pity, because I can't imagine they're going to sell enough of these at £1999 to people interested in Linux in order for a set of useful reverse-engineered drivers to be created, and thus you have a chicken-and-egg problem. Potential Linux users won't ever buy it because there aren't drivers, and there will thus never be the userbase to create the drivers.

    What's more ironic is that Fujitsu is a member of the OSDG and sells a lot of high-end Linux stuff, but I guess (like IBM until they sold it off to Lenovo) despite their alleged commitment to it, you're SOL if you want to get a PC with anything except Windows.
    • As a Fuji owner I have to say their support for non-Windows drivers is sketchy at best. I had no end of problems getting my Amilo 7850 to run SuSE 8, which included the partition table getting hosed (a 60GB HDD being detected as 400GB!)

      In fact I was wanting to downgrade WinXP to Win2k as 2k seemed to be slightly less of a resource hog. However at the time there wasn't Windows 2000 drivers for the chipset (and the XP ones wouldn't sit right). The situation has improved, but you still have to accept a disc
  • by Martin Foster ( 4949 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:09AM (#15189992) Homepage
    I have been using a Sierra Wireless Aircard for a while though Telus Mobility (Canadian) and its been working out pretty well for me. The card itself is completely free if you sign up for a three year contract and if you choose the appropriate data rate montly fees are pretty reasonable.

    Speed in major cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary make use of their 1X EDO protocol which is about the speed of a slow ADSL connection. In order places you get simple 1X with vaying speeds but I can average 13Kbs in transfer rates for large files.

    The problem with these things however is the cost of the connection itself. I've been moving from place to place for a while now so getting an Cable/DSL connection for a month or two at a time is just not worth it.

    However with Telus, most of their plans charge by the meg and that does not take very long to break if your using even just straight IMAP mail. So your generally stuck with their 'unlimited' service which is about 100$ a month (50$/month for the first three months).

    For me its worth it, even though Halifax is still on plain 1X. But its certainly not for everyone!
    • Just a heads up, but say good bye to "unlimited" it's now hardcapped at 250mb on their plan rate sheets :), but one gig of transfer is coming soon, all for just 150 dollars a month! Their "unlimited" service was technically always capped at 250 megs, depending on how far you went over is whether or not they'd try and bone you for the extra data transfer.

      Just another side note, a guy came into the store I work in (The Source, Telus Mobility Dealer) And he had purchased a new Kyocera card (reportedly faster

      • Now, you may not know this, but you have 7 days from the day of activation to cancel all terms on your contract, without penalty. He came back in three days later, used over 500mb already, and said "I just can't afford this." So we get ready to cancel it for him, and Telus tells us he has to pay for the data usage, pay the cancelation fee, and pay the cancellation fee of 200 bucks. Totally violated their own terms...

        Err, what's the problem? Well, other than the cancellation fee - which you could kick up a

    • I recently got a Thinkpad X60 which has EV-DO built in (provided by Verizon). I've been getting ~100KBps downloads pretty reliably in the LA area (about 700-800 Mbps, note B/b). I'm pretty satisfied with it; I've cancelled my DSL and I can still use the iTunes music/video store, YouTube, Google Video, and Adult Swim Fix. I'm surprised how well streaming video works over the connection in general. On the down side, latency is noticably higher than DSL and upload speeds are terrible; you wouldn't do well
  • I have T-Mobile's EDGE and GPRS through my Samsung t809 cell phone. Over the past 4 months my speeds have gotten faster and faster (upwards of 20K/s downloads), and some days I forget to log off before jumping on my WiFi at home. I'm very happy with the speed and the phone (even with many downsides).

    I've been thinking of getting a separate EDGE PC-Card so my laptop always has access, but then I realized it is more of a hassle and a cost than necessary. I think this laptop will have similar problems.

    • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:30AM (#15190132) Homepage Journal
      Is there such a thing (on the black/grey market or whatever) as a reprogrammable SIM card?

      Back in the day (early to mid 90s) it used to be fairly easy to find someone -- in my area it was always Israelis, don't ask me why -- who would clone certain brands and models of cellphones for you. Basically they could take a second phone, and make it appear to the network like a second instance of an already-existing phone. This was how a lot of crooks stole your phone service, but it was also handy because you could buy a second handset, and attach it to one number. Basically, just like having two phones in your house; two extensions on the same number.

      I never actually did it, but I knew some commercial users that had it done, or said they did, and seemed to like it. I haven't heard of it being done in years though so I assume with the digital changeover the phone companies figured out some way to prohibit it.

      I gotta imagine though that somewhere, in between designing new xBox mod chips, somebody has been working on making a reprogrammable SIM card that you could reflash and give a new address to, so that you could effectively duplicate an existing SIM. Assuming it wasn't so common that the network checks to see whether there are multiple instances of a particular SIM active at the same time, it seems like it would be able to give you the "multiple extension" effect. You could have one 'extension' as your computer, and another as your voice handset. Just set the computer to ignore incoming voice calls, and you'd be all set. You'd only have one service plan and you'd work off of the same pot of minutes using both phones.

      I can imagine the cellular carriers would frown on this though, since they don't get to squeeze you for the extra dough on the second service plan.

      Anyone ever heard if this is possible? It seems like something that somebody must have put some thought into, either on how to do it, or how to prohibit it.
      • Aye. New IMEI/SIM numbers means your SIM is now tied to the IMEI. Yes you can move the SIM to a different phone (Vendor lock in permitting) without any trouble, but if your SIM keeps hopping IMEI too often it's liable to be picked up and your phone company will call and basically say "Is it you who keeps swapping handsets?". Basically, it's still possible but a PITA to do with newer models and network handshakes.
      • So what happens when someone ring you?? Do they both ring?

        This sounds so much like an Urban legend.
      • Under GSM, you'd have to duplicate the SIM rather than the phone. There is an "official" way to do this, whereby the phone company creates a new SIM for you with the same MSISDN (phone number) but different IMSI (SIM number - the phone network actually works on the basis of IMSI rather than MSISDN). A few companies offer this, mainly to make certain types of car phone easier to use.

        It's also possible to crack some (but not all) SIMs to get "Ki", the shared secret. Having done this, making a duplicate SIM

      • I forgot to answer your second point. I work for a large non-US GSM operator. We're very happy for you to swap your SIM around: you're paying for the time, not to rent a phone. I swap SIMs between three phones - for instance when I'm travelling I take a video phone to call my wife, but at work I use a Nokia 9300. I also use my SIM for test purposes in loads of other phones with no problems. If your SIM wears our (mine never has) we'll replace it over the counter and free.

        One of the other respondents mentio

    • Wow, this sounds pretty interesting. I also have T-Mobile and a bluetooth phone (Motorola V330). What does T-Mobile charge for internet service? Also, does this really drain the battery on your phone?
  • However with Orange UK charging £1 a megabyte for data, actually using the thing could be expensive even if you get a driver for it. Admittedly, Orange and other networks in the UK do data bundles but it's still a (very) big chunk of profit for your network, and prohibitively expensive for many users.
    • I used to have a contract with Orange. They decided that I couldn't upgrade my 'phone to support 3G, however, without paying a large fee because they only count the amount you have been paying for voice when they calculate how valuable a customer you are. Since most of my bill was data (I was on the cheapest possible voice plan with SMS and data bundles added), they didn't want to know.

      I cancelled my contract with them the same day (the reason I was considering upgrading was that I had received a flyer

  • not neccesarily (Score:3, Informative)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:26AM (#15190102) Homepage
    Many phone companies will give you 2 sim cards on the same number, e.g. for use in your car. They are also pretty easy to copy. Better still would have been Bluetooth: did you know there is a bluetooth profile for "borrowing" a SIM card? Keep the Laptop (or whatever) anywhere near your phone and it can act as if it had the SIM card inside....
    • Re:not neccesarily (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      did you know there is a bluetooth profile for "borrowing" a SIM card? Keep the Laptop (or whatever) anywhere near your phone and it can act as if it had the SIM card inside....

      Did you know there's a Bluetooth profile for dial-up networking? Just keep the radio hardware in the 'phone and transmit the data via BT. That way you can replace your 'phone and keep your laptop when you upgrade to 4G, or whatever the next mobile buzzword happens to be.

      • Did you know there's a Bluetooth profile for dial-up networking?

        Absolutely there is. Of course, if you get your phone through (m)any of the networks in the US, you'll often find that that feature has been disabled in firmware. You could take the phone to a service center for a firmware upgrade, but guess what, you'll get the Verizon/Cingular/Sprint firmware back on the phone, they won't flash it with a factory firmware.

  • A 2 year old review of the GSM Flybook []

    A 15 month old review of the GSM Enfora CF card []

    Those products, though very cool at the time, don't seem to have gone anywhere. Is the 3G and integration of this Lifebook the key to the revolution? Is it even usable as a voice phone?
  • It doesn't seem that useful, at least if 1) your phone and laptop both support Bluetooth and 2) you're carrying your cellphone anyway. You can just run the network connection over Bluetooth. So I'm told by my Cingular sales rep, anyway.
    • That's the same feeling I got from the "air cards". Why should I get a dedicated piece of hardware when I can just use my phone over bluetooth. I can tell you Cingular's LG U340 works nicely with a MacBook Pro on UMTS (in Phoenix).
  • Have you ever looked at 3G tariffs? Vodafone charges [] a mere 20 for 50MB monthly limit with 1.50 for every subsequent MB. That's on the best plan.

    They could afford to subsidize a substantial part of the machine and still make their money back when they're charging that much.

  • is the model reviewed in the link.
  • I thought one of the advantages of using a pcmcia 3G card is that the antenna is physically sticking out of the laptop, giving both a better signal and reducing the possibly cancer-causing radiation your lap/hands are exposed to. So when 3G is integrated, is the antenna placed for example at the top back of the LCD screen, maximizing the distance between you and the transmissions (and probably eliminating some interference from all the other electronics)? None of the specs seem to mention this...

    If its in
  • I have been using my Sony Ericsson T630 with GPRS and bluetooth to access the net on my XP laptop. It all works fine (thanks for asking), but the prices are criminal.

    I didn't originally buy a phone for this type of use, but it's pretty capable. I am on a pay-as-you-go sim with virgin mobile, and they charge 0.5 pence per KB. At first, I didn't worry about that, as I had no real idea how much simple e-mail usage was going to work out costing me. Anyway, one day, I was checking the mail, and the AVG popped u

  • The new Latitude laptops from Dell (D620 & D420) have 3G as an option. I was evaluating one today and it is a pretty nice Gucci piece of kit. Wireless 54G, Bluetooth, 3G cellular, Ambient light sensor for the screen, beautiful screen and very light. Seems they may have it right folks!!
  • EVDO on sprint (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Everyone who is complaining about price for a data connection in the US needs to look at Sprint. The plan I'm using has an additional $15/month fee for a data connection for my phone. Thats a flat rate for unlimited data usage. I have a Pocket PC 6700 so i use the data connection through the phone all the time. When I need to get some work done i use bluetooth to my laptop and it works great. The PPC has 802.11 in it, but I rarely ever use it because of the speed, ease of use, and lack of limits on use
  • Given my recent woes of getting my Nokia 6682 to actually work as a UTMS/EDGE modem for my Powerbook, the notion of integration is a really nice sounding idea.

    I believe that your real problem will come to light when you trade your Just Works(tm) OSX for something evil - simply to get integrated 3G.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.