30 Jan 2006, 02:25

Is that a broadband connection in your pocket?

Why yes, yes it is. Thank you for noticing. I recently just renewed my cellphone contract with Sprint and picked up the uber cool Samsung A900. This thing is a seriously impressive piece of pocket sized hardware. While its design obviously “borrows” heavily from the Razr, the A900 wins the technological superiority contest hands down. In a form factor only slightly larger than the Razr it manages to pack in an overwhelming list of features. I’m giddy. Here are some of the high points:

EV-DO. Or as Sprint’s marketing division prefers, “PowerVision”. This is the big one. Essentially, this phone offers an internet connection as fast as a low end DSL or cable modem. Phone web browsers and network apps were pretty much a joke in the past, being so ridiculously slow that they seemed more like a proof of concept than something that would actually be useful. Not anymore. Checking Gmail, searching Google, streaming audio/video now all work at speeds that don’t make you want to smash your head into something hard.

Bluetooth. It took them forever, but Sprint finally has a Bluetooth phone that they didn’t cripple to only work with headsets. Sure it does headsets, but it also transfers contacts and files, and allows dial up networking over a Bluetooth connection for devices like PDAs and laptops. A high speed completely wireless network connection in your pocket. Believe me, it’s GLORIOUS.

1.3 megapixel camera/camcorder. Pretty decent for a cellphone camera. Nothing amazing but at least I’ll always have it on me.

MP3 player. There’s 50 megs of internal memory that can be used to store audio files to play on the phone’s media player. Granted, that’s not much space and a miniSD card slot would have been nice, but it’s just a nice bonus feature on an already amazing phone. Plus, the connection speed is fast enough that you can just stream audio and video from home using Orb (which is really cool enough to get its own post)

Now for the negatives:

Battery life. The phone may be sports car sleek, but it burns through its battery like a Hummer. There’s no way around it, this thing is a gas guzzler. It’s rated for 3 hours of talk time, but with any significant amount of network/camera/java app usage, it pretty much always requires charging at the end of the day. So you could say it’s a little high maintenance but I think it’s worth it.

Confusing & expensive data plans: Here’s the problem – no one working for Sprint has anything resembling a clue about how the new high speed data plans work. There are plans for unlimited data on the handset, but try using it as a modem with that plan, and you’ll get billed an absolutely disgusting amount per KB. There’s supposed to be a plan that lets you get a whole 40MB/month (you’re joking, right?) of modem usage and unlimited handset data, but no one at the Sprint store could figure out how to apply it. On top of that, all of Sprint’s marketing materials are piss poor at distinguishing plans that apply to the old standard Vision as opposed to the new PowerVision. Then apparently there’s a plan that gives you unlimited data on the phone when used as a modem, but you can’t use the phone for voice calls. Who would want that? Until Sprint’s marketing and customer service departments can extract their heads from their collective nether regions, I’m just sticking with the basic unlimited PowerVision handset data plan and having to smack myself every time I think about trying to use it as a modem.


Comment by Ash on 2006-01-29 21:08:19 +0000

Man.. I gotta get me one. That’s all I gotta say.

BTW, I think its funny that EV-DO is nicknamed PowerVision at Sprint. So, what technology are you using when you write Notes with your a900? or… if you were to fill out Forms, lets say? Or, in … Ok ok I’ll stop with that. But seriously. I think the naming-droids in marketing are in the shop for servicing…

Did I mention I wanted your phone!??

Comment by Ash on 2006-01-29 21:11:29 +0000

Also… Sometimes I feel like they make the plans confusing intentionally so that you get the old hucklebuck when you actually use the bandwith you’d *expect* only to be shot down by the automated Sprint text message czar and his cease and desist order. Then you already have the phone and you are forced to upgrade your plan. You should blog about it and we’ll have 9488432 people DIGG it.

Comment by Will on 2006-01-29 21:29:48 +0000

You cannot have my phone. You should, however, get one. I can’t stress that enough. And you’re right, I’m positive that they make the plans confusing on purpose so that people either end up paying monthly for services that they never use or get charged extra fees for services they thought were included.

Comment by Neal on 2006-01-30 11:30:46 +0000

I started crying before you got done with the bluetooth point.

Points that get a hearty “I concur!”:

  • Phone companies are schizophrenic about data plans – “Check out our neat-o internet access! But don’t use it!”

  • I never thought that a phone company would make a non-crippled bluetooth phone. My understanding of cell providers so far has always been justified by the theory that they hate us. At least, that’s the model that their actions reflect. So they’ve made a bluetooth phone that can transfer files and act as a network connection for a laptop? Maybe they just didn’t understand what they were doing.

Comment by Will on 2006-01-31 08:28:35 +0000

Yeah, it’s funny but my first thought when I read that the phone could use bluetooth for files and as a modem was “Oh man, someone at Sprint screwed up”. Like the dude that normally cripples the bluetooth is was on vacation or something. And I think you’re right that they hate us. Probably not all of their customers, though. I bet they really like the ones that sign up for expensive plans and never really use the phones for much more than voice. It’s the geeky customers who get minimal voice plans and want to get every last bit of bandwidth out of their data plans that they must hate.

Comment by Seth on 2006-04-10 06:43:46 +0000

Perhaps young William has abandoned his blog because the Internet is so much more fun on his phone…

Hope all is well, looking forward to your return.