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Cell Phones for Laptop Users? 89

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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  • If you could look up a Verizon -> USB/Ethernet/PCMIA card for a 15 1/2" laptop I'd be much obliged. :D
  • 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 [] is a *great* resource when it comes to stuff like this.
    • 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 [].

      I use the E815 as well; I love the BT obex under linux.
      • Re:Verizon e815 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fez ( 468752 ) *
        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-byt
        • EN-MOU (Minute Only Usage) was phased out long ago. People who had MOU were grandfathered in and still have MOU, but new users will only have either Pay-Per-KB or one of the data packages.

          I believe VZW TOS does forbid using the PDA/Smartphone Express Network plans with a PC.

          I am not sure about other hardware, but hacked Bluetooth is the ONLY way to have tethered mode with a Treo 650 and a Mac. The T650 does not support DUN via the USB sync cable. While there is a third-party hack (PDANet) that enables th
      • I have a Razr. I got mine on release day, so i got the .02 firmware, which is OBEX and other BT services enabled. Apparantly Verizon is backing off on their anti-BT stance with their latest phones, but I would still warn you to try out a phone and see if you can connect from your lappie first.

        That said, I love my Razr, and I have used BT to sync it as a 'modem' and called into my work VPN dail up service. Not very high-tech, I know, but I cannot yet afford the monthly for wireless internet.

        I don't know ho

    • Have you had problems with you phone not allowing connections after a disconnect? I always have to power cycle mine before using a Bluetooth function of any sort.
  • 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 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.
      • seconded. I have a samsung t809 and can use it as a USB modem if i so wished, although I have no dialup account to dial into, but that's neither here nor there :-)
      • I BELIEVE if you are using your phone as a modem to (for example) call some other ISP then I think you are correct, but of course you use up your "minutes" then.

        On the other hand, if you have any kind of phone plan with them, for an extra $19/month you can ALSO get unlimited wireless internet from them. With T-Mobile (at least when I got it) it's only "fast dial-up" speed (true 56k), but they seemed (again, when I first checked) to have a lot more ubiquitous coverage than, say, Sprint or Verizon's faster

        • u can dail up to an isp and use the phone like a traditional analog modem (csd), you would only get 9.6kbps and it would eat your minutes. doesn't require a data plan though. i was refering to getting a data plan and going using the phone as a gprs modem (if your phone can do edge, you can get about 160kbps) with your laptop at no extra charge. they used to have a normal data plan for this for 19.99, now it's packaged with their hotspots too for 29.99. not as good a deal if you never use hotspots, but still
        • "Wish I could figure out why I can't get it to use my custom MP3's as "ringtones" but that's not exactly an important feature for me."

          Not sure how you are accessing it on the linux OS (since, omg, I haven't meddled with them much), but using my razr connected with Bluetooth to my powerbook I just click on the phone, and download the mp3s to the phone's sound file. Maybe it's a limitation fo the phone too, I don't know.
          • I suspect it's the phone - I can UPLOAD the file, and the little "play a sound" application actually does play the little mp3 clip just fine - it's just that the phone seems to ignore me when I tell it to use the file as a "ringtone".
        • Wish I could figure out why I can't get it to use my custom MP3's as "ringtones" but that's not exactly an important feature for me.

          Check out Moto4Lin []. I've got a V-188 too, and I've uploaded custom ringtones and backgrounds onto my phone using it.

    • 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: []

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

      -- C
    • "But if you get a USB cable (check eBay), which they don't officially admit exists"

      That must depend on the model. The USB cable came in the box with my phone (samsung a900) when I signed up with them. Works for transferring pictures from it and as a model cable.
  • by scenestar ( 828656 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @09:40PM (#15209319) Homepage Journal
    can be found here []

    • Just avoid Verizon like the plague. They like to charge you money for things you can do with your hardware for free. They also like to bait-and-switch: I was promised that I could use my phone as a laptop modem. I bought the plan. Tech support explained to me how to do it. I used it for a couple days, then didn't need it for a while.

      Then I was traveling and wanted to use it, so I called them up to get the access number. I was told that "customers who abuse this feature are having their accounts disa

      • I haven't read the entire agreement, nor do I care to. My attorneys will, and they'll then recommend my course of action.

        Binding arbitration, forgoing your day in court.

        You did have "your attorneys" read it before you signed it, right?
  • Verizon Blackberry 7250

    EVDO, tethering, syncing, bluetooth, etc.
    • That's a good choice, but that's a PDA, not a phone. I personally wouldn't do a PDA since its 1) too big, 2) too expensive, and 3) too likely that my business will come home with me.
  • I bought an unbranded SLVR and it does everything you want, except it's not 3G. It is however a very nice phone. It's eminetnly capable, Motorola phones have a large userbase and are rather hackable. I was able to use VirtualPC to put iTunes on the phone and perform other various hacks. It works great as a modem to use with my t-mobile plan (20/month for unlimited data).
    I like bluetooth, and like not having to carry one more cable, even if I do usually carry that cable for charging purposes, I don't want to
  • Find a phone you like with bluetooth. Done.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 [] 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 lapto
  • I've used my RAZR to sync and connect to the internet. The new version is basically the same, except with 3G and some better photo capabilities. Now if you can find a provider that's unlimited 3G, you've got a solution.
  • I've always used SprintPCS for data. Pricing seems to be the most fair of any provider and they are always on the leading edge of high speed wireless.

    From the SprintPCS site for their Power Vision phones:

    Phone as Modem Capable
    Use the included USB cable or Bluetooth Wireless technology to connect to a PC allowing Internet and email access.

    It seems that SprintPCS is more open to everyone using their phones for Internet Access. A friend of mine purchased a Verizon phone an
  • Sprint (Score:4, Informative)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> 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 [] are nice and can answer almost anything.

    Good luck.

    • I have the Sanyo 8200 as well. I found a charging USB cable on eBay for about $10, and I picked up a copy of Susteen's Datapilot software and it syncs like a champ. It also worked with the 8100 I had before that, and it will work with the 8300 if I decide to upgrade to that later.

      It's also universally compatible with 90% of the other Sanyo phones.
    • I've heard much better things about the kinds of phones one can get from Cingular on that point

      If you don't have a "data plan" with Cingular, you get charged by the kilobyte (which is nice compared to Verizon who won't let you do anything but 14.4k without adding "data" to your cell plan) Cingular doesn't support computer configurations that don't use their software (which you can't download if you can't get a connection, but you can't get a connection without downloading the what they told m
  • by Silas ( 35023 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @10:31PM (#15209543) Homepage
    Just FYI, I asked Slashdot pretty much the same thing [] about a year ago. Got some interesting responses, but I still haven't found a good enough recommendation to pursue. Hope that helps...


  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * 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.

    • What sort of perfection would meet your requirements? Do you require that it sound like the person is next to you? Are you expecting psychic inference of the numbers you wish to dial? Do you feel the phone should magically hold itself next to your face? What is lacking, exactly?

      Maybe I've just been lucky, but every phone I've had has been great for making calls.
      • I'd like it to work approximately as well as a cordless phone used on a land line. No dropped calls, no momentary dropouts and very little garbling or static during calls.

        Fundamentally what this requires is greater density of cell sites, so it's more a problem with infrastructure than with the phones. That's why I said that the Treo works about as poorly (or well) as any other cellphone.

  • I have a Motorola bluetooth phone (V330, which they stopped making last year) and it syncs awesomely with my Powerbook via Bluetooth. It works quite well for voice as well, amazingly enough. The one thing I have not tried is using it as a modem. There is a USB cable available for $20, and the T-Mobile internet service is cheap ($6/month) and unlimited...but I have no idea if it works as a modem. Anybody know?
    • I use the Motorola v360, a USB cable and t-Mobile. The plan I use is a bit more expensive, $29.99/mo but includes both unlimited cellphone data use and unlimited t-Mobile Hotspot Wifi. The service has been fine, although it was a royal pain to find a t-Mobile service rep that knew how to provision the account with the service plan that was in the brochure.
  • GoMadic [] has stuff for this.
    • I never was succesful getting my Nextel to work with my laptop with one of these. Even still, i'm under the impression that the data transfer rate would have been 9600 baud which is pretty slow compared with 3g. Good alternative though.
  • 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.
    • I have this exact setup and it works very well with both the builtin EDGE connectivity and as a USB modem dialing up Speakeasy. This is all under WinXP, no experience with it under Linux. I also use it as a cheap MP3 player; I dump podcasts to it automatically before I wake up (its a removable storage device OR a usb modem, switchable in the phone UI) and listen to them on the way in to work.
  • I've got a verizon LG VX6100 that let's me sync and usbmodem, in linux no less!. I would start with the compatability list for BITPIM and narrow your search down from there.
  • How hard would it be to get two cellphones with a free mobile to mobile calling and have one at home wired into your broadband connection and then use the other as a modem on your laptop to call your home cellphone.

    I'm sure it would be slow, but it in theory wouldn't cost you anything.
  • I've had an unlimited internet plan on my cel phone for a couple years now through Cingular ($20 a month). It has only been at GPRS & EDGE speeds in my area during that time, but 3G is now available in several area's around me. Hopefully it will be in my area soon, but for now the EDGE speeds are fast enough.

    I just use my Bluetooth adapter on my laptop to connect to my Bluetooth cel phone. Formerly a Moto v600, and now an LG CU320 (3G). Once paired with my laptop it appears as a Bluetooth modem, and the
    • I'm in the process of changing from ATT to Cingular finally, and you're the second person to tell me about a $20 unlimited internet access from Cingular.

      The best I can find on their site or reps is $39.99/month for "Data Connect Unlimited", which has to be purchased with a minimum $39.99/month talk plan.

      The other person I spoke with was an HP exec, and I figured it was a HP-negotiated pricing plan; but barring you being corporate, can you tell what this plan is for $20/month, and any details (connectivity,
      • The $39.99/data, $39.99/voice is their business plan.

        There is indeed a $19.99 consumer unlimited data plan. I think you need a $30/mo+ voice plan to get it, and it only applies to one phone, not the entire account.

        Data rate is whatever your phone is capable of. I used to use it with a GPRS phone over USB, (think 56K modem) now I use it with a EDGE phone over BT (Think slow DSL).

        I think there are seperate plans for 3G, only slightly more expensive, but as my W600I doesn't do 3G, I didn't pay attention while
        • She's a rep? Ask her why they make their service options so difficult to coordinate via the website for idiots like me :)

          There's MEdia Basics, MEdia Works, MEdia NET... it's just too much. They need to make it simple, or at least attempt to explain things a little better, you know, say something like "Hey, dummy, don't pick a TXT service if you get MEdia Works, it's already included!"

          For example, why would I want to buy MEdia Works, and ALSO select a TXT and/or MMS package? It makes no sense, yet their s
  • Like an internal modem (card device), but like an internal wireless device in notebooks/laptops. Do they exist in U.S.?
    • by Cybert8 ( 968584 )
      For awhile now. Some are even built-in (don't take the card slot). Some caveats--my cingular EDGE PC Card had horrid latencies (1s or more).
  • I use the SE P910 with my windows laptop. Here's what I do (and what I *can* do) with it:

    - use it as a modem (pc bluetooth to phone gprs to internet)
    - use it as a modem (pc bluetooth to phone dial into an ISP's dial-up -very slow-)
    - retrieve IMAP e-mail via gprs
    - retrieve & send data for a handful of apps via gprs (opera web browser, avantgo, an SSH client, and worldmate pro, to name 4 useful ones)
    - sync contacts and calendar data with Lotus Notes 6.5.4 (what I do)
    - sync contacts, calendar data, a
  • I've been happily using this phone with my Mac since August, and I think it does everything you want. I wrote up a review on my blog: e815/ []
  • As soon as my current contract expires, I'm planning to purchase a T-mobile MDA, which is a rebranded HTC Wizard. It seems to have the features you want, USB connectivity (make sure you have a cable intended for USB 2.0), Bluetooth, wireless, etc.

    One guy's experience getting it to work as a modem is here: []

    The HTC Wizard seems to have good reviews, although nothing is perfect, and even though its CPU is dual-core, people are concerned about its speed.

  • I just got a Nokia 6230i to replace my old Siemens S55. Now I get a camera, MP3 player, Edge connectivity on bluetooth (150 kbps on average) but the address book and organizer do not synchronise with my powerbook 12" (maybe 50% of Nokia phones are recognized by Apple). It used to work with the S55 (the modem was only GPRS) but its battery was dead anyway.
  • I just did computer service for a guy who has a Razr. It will sync (I think) and do Internet connection (115kbps) over a usb cable, and as long as the phone's battery isn't uber-low, it will charge on the usb connection as well.

    I think it was a Razr.
  • I have the same powerbook, but my choice of phone was the RAZR. Why? It syncs/file transfers over bluetooth, it charges over USB, it acts as a modem, it syncs with iSync. It's an all-around great phone, and I'm glad I got it.

    This is all on top of the fact that with bluetooth, you can do things like send/receive/archive SMS messages from your Powerbook (google BluePhoneElite), which is a handy feature if you send/receive a lot of messages - something I've started to do now that I have a phone with surprising
  • by pdawson ( 89236 )
    Except for the 3G component, the Treo 650 will do all you ask, you just need to add PDANet software to get the USB cable network connection.

    You may be able to do the same trick with the Treo 700W and PDANet, and get the 3G speed. However, I don't have 3G coverage here yet so I've never looked into it.
  • I've got T-Mobile's all-you-can-eat GPRS data service and a Nokia 3660. The 3660 is a good phone, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one now.

    It syncs with iSync; I can use the phone as a Bluetooth modem that works with my Powerbook and my Palm E2, both over GPRS (33.6K-ish speeds), and as an "analog" phone (at a whopping 9600 baud); and the phone isn't monumentally stupid, though the keypad has tiny, tiny number keys.

    As a bonus: I've got an IR ThinkOutside folding keyboard that works with both the phone

  • I used to commute an hour on the train and I hated trying to work there with no net access. Turned out it was pretty easy to get connected. I have a 15" PowerBook and a Kyocera 7135 Palm smartphone on Verizon. I found a USB data cable for that phone on eBay for $20 and I found modem drivers for the phone in various places, including the Kyocera website. A few trial-and-error cycles later I had cell modem internet access.

    That phone only did 1xRTT, not EDGE, but it wasn't bad for email or blogging and light s
  • I use a sony t637 with a 15" powerbook. Syncs over bluetooth with isync. Connects me to tmobile via bluetooth and i charge it up with this ziplinq usb charger: s/item-details.asp?EdpNo=585476 []
  • I'm a Verizon Wireless subscriber and G4 iBook user in Washington, DC. If I need Internet access while not at home or work, it's usually pretty easy for me to find a hotspot (free or paid at one of the 10^9 Starbucks within half a block from my house).

    I used to have a Treo 600 with the $40/unlimited PDA plan, which I could synch using iSync. Although I used it, I didn't see the value added for my needs. Verizon charges up the a$$ for data services as compared to Sprint (or T-Mobile). Their cellular co

  • I use a Samsung D600 which hooks up via USB to my laptop OK, although the software is Windows (2000/XP) only. It's quad band, so should work in the US. slide-it-baby [] seems to suggest that partial Mac support is there, but not contact syncing. A link from there suggests iSync support in 10.4.6.

  • Same situation for me- I wanted decent calling, mobile data from my iBook or Palm Tungsten T3 and full contact/calendar syncing between Mac/Phone/Palm.

    * Sony Ericsson phones gave me acceptable call quality and absurdly simple DUN & contact/cal sync.

    * T-Mobile gave me all-you-can-eat GPRS/EDGE for $20/month and they don't restrict which devices you use or how

    * iBook/OS X Panther with iSync handles all of the above. I use a Bluetooth dongle instead of a cable, I like it.

    A few things I learned along

  • I've been using this combo for over 2 years now. You have to get the USB cable from Motorola (many of the ones out there at Radio Shack will NOT let you use the modem feature). You also have to get one that allows you to plug the charger in (the phone will not charge from the laptop) in you want to be on for any length of time.

    It costs me about 20 bucks a month for unlimited connectivity, thought the BW is sometimes kind of slow. I've used it all over the country, pretty much anywhere there is cell phone se
  • > but my 12" Powerbook doesn't have a PC Card slot.

    Get a PC.
  • I recently had raised the same questions when getting a new cell phone.

    My previous phone was a Nokia 6230 (link []) and at the time I purchased it, was at the bleeding edge of cell phone technology. Bluetooth, GPRS Modem, Camera, Video, SD Card, you name it. So the decision to upgrade FROM this phone was a tough one. Which phones on the market today made the $$ I'd have to spend WORTH the upgrade?

    After spending a lot of time researching, I finally settled upon the Nokia 6682 (link []). It had the same features as

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