Wireless Internet without HotSpots
November 9, 2005 2:19 AM   Subscribe

I want an anytime, anywhere Internet connection without having to worry about finding a WiFi hotspot. What devices can I use besides a Blackberry?

I want web browsing, e-mail, and instant messaging. I know a Blackberry is capable of this through cell-phone providers. What other devices can do this? I'm not familiar with smartphones - do they have fully-functional web browsers? At home, I do have a wireless router - will I be able to connect through that (when I am at home) for faster surfing? Ideally I'd like a device carried by Cingular, as I'm currently locked into them for cell phone service for another 18 months or so.
posted by IndigoRain to Technology (12 answers total)
the thing i'd suggest would be to use a PDA with a GPRS/EDGE/EVDO internet connection from a phone using bluetooth.

or you could buy a smart phone if you want to spend that much money, their pretty much a PDA and phone in one unit and (to my knowledge) usually have wifi standard so you can use your wireless internet at home... well, they better have it for the price. PDA's have web browsers, but remember that surfing the web on a device with a small screen can be frustrating unless the website is designed for use on mobile devices.
posted by a. at 2:38 AM on November 9, 2005

You haven't talked about cost, so I'm going to suggest a laptop with built-in WiFi, and a 3G/GPRS PCMCIA card (one of the first hits off Google, not a recommendation, there are plenty more like this).
posted by Leon at 3:41 AM on November 9, 2005

Wireless GPRS PC Cards are available that offer about 3x dialup speed no matter where you go, and are always on. Here in Montreal the card will go for $500 (or was it $250) and then for unlimited bandwidth you pay $50 a month.
posted by furtive at 4:26 AM on November 9, 2005

You can use a laptop with Verizon's EVDO service. It's $80/month for unlimited transfer, and manages speeds of between 300k-700k. It works all over the place, and plugs into your laptop with a $50 EVDO card (eBay price, natch.).

Otherwise, you'll need to look for a PDA like a. mentioned that includes Wi-Fi and GPRS/GSM. Any T-Mobile smart phone will be Cingular compatible, so you may want to take a look on their site at their HP/Compaq smartphone offerings—they tend to offer a somewhat decent browsing experience, although that was over GPRS, which is far slower than EVDO. EDGE/3G are supposed to be a great deal faster, but my only personal experiences are with GSM/GPRS and EVDO.

(At E3 this year, the power was out in the media room, so I was publishing to our site using a laptop on EVDO. It's actually a pretty decent connection, even in the middle of the LA Convention Center. It's just very pricey.)
posted by disillusioned at 4:59 AM on November 9, 2005

I use a Palm Zire 72 which talks bluetooth to my Nokia Cellphone. For you I would recommend a good PDA with Bluetooth and Wifi like the top-end Palms and all iPAQs.
posted by magpie68 at 5:59 AM on November 9, 2005

I've heard Cingular is coming out with the Nokia 9300i in a few months. It has everything you ask for. I use the 9500, but the 9300i is a much smaller, better implemented version. They're quite nice—best part is that the screen is big enough that it renders web pages as you would see them on your computer. It's also WiFi enabled, EDGE compatible. Big keyboard, big screen, small phone.
posted by lovejones at 6:02 AM on November 9, 2005

Hiptop can do all that, plus telnet with SSH.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:48 AM on November 9, 2005

You can get a Sprint PCS phone and the Vision package (extra $15 /month). Then buy a USB coord that plugs your phone in to your laptop and use the phone as a digital modem. You'll have to google around to find the drivers for your phone. The speed is pretty good, 500-700kbs, and it works whever your sprint phone is not in analog mode.

Of course, this isn't offically supported by Sprint, but I've gotten it to work an Samsung a600 phones, and heard about it working on others.
posted by gus at 7:47 AM on November 9, 2005

Since you are already a Cingular customer, why wouldn't you be interested in the upcoming BlackBerry 8700c?

I'm curious, why are you ruling BlackBerry's out when they provide everything that you're looking for (or, at least mentioned).
posted by purephase at 8:26 AM on November 9, 2005

A note of warning about Verizon and T-Mobile GPRS cards: Their coverage area, while very good in populated areas, will leave you high and dry in rural areas. Where I am, I have to piggyback my existing T-Mobile service over an existing GPRS agreement with Cingular. This is troublesome, as I only ever get about 2 bars of signal from them. ...and I'm 10 miles from the state capital.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:47 AM on November 9, 2005

Hiptop can do all that, plus telnet with SSH.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:48 AM PST on November 9 [!]

Any color palm can also do SSH using pssh. Plus you're not using a shitty little OS that'll only run apps from the company instead of the fifteen zillion palm apps out there.

I use a Palm Tungsten E2 with my cellphone with bluetooth+GPRS.

GPRS is slow as shit, but I purchased this browser which automatically uses a proxy server and some funky tricks to make it a _lot_ faster than the standard Palm browser.

If you can afford a Treo, I'd get one of those so you can just have one device for everything. Even Treo 270s can be had for 100 bucks or so off ebay.
posted by angry modem at 10:11 AM on November 9, 2005

Purephase - I *am* interested in the 8700c - I just want to know what other choices are out there before I commit. Not ruling out Blackberry, just wasn't aware of my options. :)

More info: My laptop is a desktop-replacement that weighs over 9lbs and has a 17" screen - so I'm kind of looking for a PDA/phone device.

I *have* browsed on a PDA before so I know about the small screen inconveniences.

Thanks all, if you still have more info please share!
posted by IndigoRain at 8:08 PM on November 9, 2005

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