Tag Archive for "UMTS"

Vodafone’s 3G Internet

Hallelujah, it’s only another week until we move and get real internet again! Since moving to Auckland we’ve been relying on Vodafone’s 3G data service (UMTS up to 384kbps) accessed through our phones.

The Good Bits

  • Sweet, sweet internet, how I love thee (or, the internet you have is always better than the internet you don’t have).
  • No on-site installation required.
  • You can take it with you. We’ll probably be travelling over summer so this’ll be very useful.
  • Receiving and making phone calls didn’t interfere with the data connection.
  • Having paid for a proper data plan on the phone means that I can happily use it for internet access while out and about, without having to pay the horrendous casual data rates of $10/MB ($10000/GB!). In particular I’ve liked uploading photos straight to Flickr, navigating using Google Maps, and just general web browsing.

The Bad Bits

  • We had some issues with the USB/phone connection on Kim’s computer. Rob kindly lent us a bluetooth adapter and this fixed things up.
  • Bluetooth itself can be more ‘fun’ to configure than it should be.
  • Windows Vista doesn’t cope with internet coming and going as well as it should.
  • The speed is just good enough at best, and it often drops well below best.
  • Take your phone away from the computer (bluetooth range of ~5m) and you lose your internet connection.
  • Providing access for other people and devices, while possible, is too much of a pain. (I could use internet connection sharing on the laptop but really, having your internet tied to your personal phone means that it’s a personal connection.)
  • We’re paying $60/month each for 1GB of traffic.

Using the newer HSDPA data standard would have been better for performance, but I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a Vodem or a phone that supports HSDPA (although the Sony Ericsson k850i has finally come out in New Zealand – parallel imported only, of course). And, as posted earlier, I found using the Vodem to be quite frustrating at times.


Of course, someone in South Korea or other civilised countries would probably sneer at me equating Telecom’s ADSL service with real internet. “What? It’s not even 10Mbit!” That said, I’m still looking forward to being able to:

  • Watch videos from YouTube and similar sites.
  • Get back into my eMusic subscription and download some more music (although I’ll miss Oink).
  • Download the latest TV shows.
  • Browse the web at a reasonable speed.

In summary, Vodafone’s 3G data service is definitely good enough for roaming use and as a backup service for transient people, but it doesn’t really substitute for a real internet connection for general usage.

New Phone – Sony Ericsson k770i

This may expose me as being a sad and geeky person, but I’m completely enamoured with my new phone (Sony Ericsson k770i). A repackaged version of the k810i, not only is it small, svelte, purple and a good phone/text device, it’s also doing quite a lot more. This includes:

The Really Useful Features

  • Access to Google Mail and LiveJournal from wherever I am. This is particularly useful at the moment as my temporary workplace blocks access to these sites.
  • Internet access device for my laptop using 3G UMTS (up to 384kbps).
  • High quality 3.2 megapixel digital camera, complete with direct upload to Flickr or LiveJournal courtesy of Shozu.
  • Listening to music using the included headset and a 2GB M2 memory card.
  • Using the Google Maps application for on-the-go navigation.
  • Easy synchronisation of the phone calendar with my Google calendar using GooSync. If only it supported contacts as well (yes, it can be done in a two step Google-PC-Phone process but I don’t want to).

Bits of Good Design

  • Sony Ericsson have replaced the sometimes fiddly joystick with a functionally equivalent but easier to use directional pad.
  • They’ve replaced the superior Xenon camera flash with a LED photo light. While this isn’t so good for photos it means you can use the phone as a flashlight. I used this feature a lot on my last phone, especially when going down dark paths on steep Wellington hills at night.
  • It multitasks! You can receive/send texts while connected to the internet while listening to music.
  • You can set multiple alarms and even specify which days they operate. I’ve got one setup to ring at 6:45 from Mon-Fri but not in the weekends. (I cunningly remembered to turn it off for Labour Day.)
  • While the connector is the same old ginormous Fast Port plug, it’s been moved from the bottom to the side which seems to work better, especially for headphones.
  • It charges itself from USB.
  • The shiny metal lense cover is beautifully integrated both physically and electronically. Once you get over the initial hesitation about using enough pressure to open/close it, it works very well and switches the camera immediately into camera mode.

Bonus advantage! We got a Sony Ericsson k530i for Kim the week before and the way that they both use the same chargers and cables and so on just makes life easier.

Stuff That Isn’t So Great

  • I’m now paying $86/month to the dreaded Vodafone for my voice and data plans.
  • The video quality is still limited to 176×144 pixels (aka crap).
  • I miss the clock screen-saver on the k750i. This meant you could check the time without having to press a button.
  • Why does the little power bar show the battery to be about 80% full when the phone status reports it’s 55% full?
  • Power consumption when doing 3G data is high. When plugged into the mains it still manages to charge but only very slowly.
  • I have no idea why the PC software takes 10 minutes to install itself.

My Next Phone

But no matter how good this phone is there’s always something more to desire. Some things I’d like in the next one:

  • An even higher res screen. 320 x 240 pixels on a 1.9″ screen is pretty good but a bigger screen with even more pixels would be even better.
  • Better text entry. I’m not sure how this would be down while still keeping the same size – and not losing the tactility of the buttons ala the iPhone. Maybe haptics will save me.
  • An even even faster data connection.
  • It’s going to have be an even better internet terminal (see all three points above this one). I’m impressed with what this one does but it’s still far short of a ‘real’ internet terminal. I wonder whether I’m going to have to sacrifice my desire for small size to get what I want.

And to finish, I’d like to mentally apologise to the very helpful woman at Etown who got me to change my mind from buying the k810i to the superior k770i. Yes, I shouldn’t have been surprised when you were reasonably knowledgeable about the product lines even if you were female and young and dressed like a [classist epithet deleted]. If only stereotypes weren’t so useful much of the time…