I only used 171MBs of 3G data in the first month of iPad use

When I got my iPad WiFi+3G back on April 30th, I resisted signing up for the Unlimited 3G Data Plan ($29.99/month). Since there is no contract and you can upgrade or downgrade at any time I wanted to see if I could get by on the 250MB/month Plan ($14.99/month). My thought was "why pay more up front when you're not sure how much you're really going to use?". I was right! In the first month I used my iPad as much as I needed to/wanted to on 3G. The rest of the time I was on WiFi or traveling abroad and using it on WiFi. I only used 171MB in the first month. So technically I saved $14.99 by NOT doing the impulse thing and signing up for the Unlimited Plan right off the bat. Now that's not to say that I wan't have some months where I need more 3G data and if I do, I'll purchase more at that time. However, today I feel like I just saved $14.99 by not giving it to AT&T up front.

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Sprint Reminds Me of AT&T’s Broken Promises

Sprint says come on over and use our 4G data card with your iPad. Now I get that this is just Sprints way of trying to get in on a good thing with their newly introduced 4G Case for iPad. Clever! However, it reminds of one of the biggest broken promises of 2009.

Last year (June 18, 2009) AT&T told us that iPhone tethering (the ability to use your iPhone as a data connection for your laptop or in theory iPad) was "coming soon". By soon most of us assumed that meant by the end of the year. Well 2009 has come and gone and now it's the later part of April 2010 and official iPhone data tethering support is no where to be seen. To make matters worse or to give us more of a rub, Apple announced and is about to ship the iPad WiFi+3G model, which again runs data on AT&T's network!


So AT&T let me get this straight…

You can provide unlimited data to iPhones. You can provide tethering support to every other smart phone you make. You can provide 3G data cards for laptops to anyone that wants them. You can even bring a relatively low cost, contract free data plan to Apple's NEW iPad, but you can't provide tethering support for iPhones yet? I don't get it! No one is asking for FREE tethering support. So chances are you're going to charge for it and because you're going to charge for it, it means that not everyone is going to use it. Is your "improved" network still that fragile? Really?

I have no love or hatred for AT&T. For the most part my service has been fine and I travel all over. I just wonder what's really going on here?

Continue reading “Sprint Reminds Me of AT&T’s Broken Promises”

MiFi 2352 Portable HSPA WiFi Hotspot Review


The Novatel MiFi is something I've been drooling over for a while now. I think it was first introduced on Verizon and then Sprint. I have an existing 3G datacard from my employer on AT&T. So I waited for AT&T to bring out the Novatel MiFi for HSPA and as of the writing of this review they still don't offer it.

What's a MiFi

You;ve probably seen those 3G cards that all the wireless carriers offer (around $60/month here in the US) that basically allow you to have a 3G data connection for your laptop anywhere that they have 3G coverage. This is great for frequent/business travelers when you can't always depend on there being a WiFi hotspot around. Normally this 3G cards either connect to your computer via USB or a card slot like ExpressCard. Plug it in, connect and you're on the internet.
MiFi is the same thing, but instead of having to plug it into your computer (and installing drivers), you just turn it on and it becomes a 3G WiFi hotspot for up to 5 computers. Of course you can set it up with your preferred network name and secure it with a password.


I got tired of waiting


I'm sure AT&T will come out with the MiFi some day and who knows we may even see iPhone 3G tethering from them, but I'm tired of waiting. Since my existing 3G USB card has a SIM card in it, all I needed was to find an unlocked MiFi sold in another country, buy it and stick in my AT&T SIM card. Done!

I found one from this guy on eBay, ordered it, got it and it works great.
Continue reading “MiFi 2352 Portable HSPA WiFi Hotspot Review”

MobileMe is working for me (now)!


In light of yesterday's post about ratings, I decided to return to a product/topic that I wanted to give everyone an update on. With each iPhone OS update that has come out since Apple switched .Mac to MobileMe I've tried to use it to wirelessly sync all my data between not only my Macs, but my iPhone as well. Each attempt in the past has lead to problems. One of the most frustrating problems I had over and over was the loss of ringtone associations with the 50+ contacts that I assigned custom ringtones too. Since you still can't assign ringtones to a group of contacts, I would have to manually go in and reassign them each time. I would typically get so frustrated that by the 3rd time this would happen, I would go back to syncing manually in iTunes. 


Now it works!

Apple has been tweaking (ie. fixing bugs) MobileMe all along. So I tried it again when the iPhone OS 3.0 update came out. It's been working fine ever since. I've not once lost my ringtone/contact associations and it's been syncing flawlessly between my iPhone 3GS and various Macs. For me, it's finally working as advertised and I'm happy! 

Much too often people are quick to tell you that something doesn't work! So I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you that MobileMe does work.


Yes, there is still room for improvement

Although MobileMe syncing is now working for me as advertised, that doesn't mean that the service itself couldn't be better. For example, I'm still stunned that to this day the iPhone doesn't support syncing of To Do items in iCal/Outlook without a 3rd party App (I use ToDo) and even more stunned that although you can finally sync Notes from Mail, that you can still only do so via the USB cable and iTunes. Notes themselves seem to sync up to the MobileMe cloud so why is it that we still have to plug in to get them to sync on the iPhone/iPod touch?

I could go on and on about things I would like to see implemented or improved, but for the most part I'm happy that it finally works the way it's supposed to.

You can get MobileMe here at a discounted price. It works on both Macs and PCs.

Would you pay for better cell voice/data coverage at home?



It's no secret that more and more people are dumping their landlines in favor of just using their cell phones or VoIP solutions. While I've covered VoIP stuff in the past, the purpose of this post is to talk about the ability to Extend your Cell Coverage in your home/office using a hardware extender sold by your wireless provider. All of the major carriers (AT&T, Sprint and Verizon) here in the US offer these devices. Luckily I don't need one. I even get 4-5 bars of signal in my basement. So my AT&T coverage here at the house couldn't be better. However, I know plenty of people that aren't so lucky that have really sucky service at home. My friend Dave has to either sit by a window or go outside to use his iPhone at home. If my coverage was that bad, I would probably opt for one of these devices, but something about this concept bugs me…


Should I have to pay for better coverage?

I have AT&T wireless. I have an iPhone. I'm happy. Sure, I think AT&T has dropped the ball in many areas and I've witnessed the poor coverage that my friends have in places like Tampa FL and NYC. However, for the most part my service has been really good. But let's say I wasn't so lucky. Let's say that my service at home was really crappy and AT&T said, "you can get great service at home. All you have to do is buy one of our NEW 3G MicroCell devices, plug it into your broadband internet and you'll have 5 bars of services for both voice and data all over your house." Would I do it? Probably, but it doesn't feel right. The part about this concept that doesn't sit well with me is that because you have poor service in my area, you want me to pay for a device to improve it. Yet, I pay the same monthly wireless rates as the guy across town that has great service. Not to mention that this device is $150!!! Verizon charges $249.99 for theirs! That seems like a lot of money to fix YOUR coverage problem. The other catch is that to improve my coverage with one of these devices you want me to plug it into my internet connection that I pay for to again make your service better! I wonder how Comcast feels about that?

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So why MMS?


As you know AT&T finally enabled MMS (Multimedia Messaging) on the iPhone last Friday after Apple introduced the feature back in July with the iPhone OS 3.0 update. Although the iPhone officially had this capability when 3.0 was introduced earlier this summer, AT&T iPhone customers had to wait until the end of summer before being able to use it. Now that it’s on and working for most of us (some are still having issues. If you are having issues, you may want to check out this troubleshooting document), the big question that I’ve been getting from a few friends is:


Why MMS? Why not just use email?

After all if you’re an iPhone user, you’ve been able to send pictures via email on your iPhone since day one right? In an iPhone only world, sending emails is a good way to go. However, most non-iPhones, especially non-smartphones, something as simple as email can be a real pain. Many (probably most) non-smartphone users don’t even have email setup on their phones. So the email would go to their computers and they would see what you sent then. OK, what’s wrong with that? Actually nothing at all. Desktop email is a rich experience and once the picture is received it can be printed, added to albums and managed in a photo management program. It can even be edited. So then why MMS? I don’t think that it’s one or the other (MMS or email), I think it’s a matter of using the right one for the right situation. Think of why you send SMS (text messages) vs. email today? Usually if you send someone an SMS message it’s because you want them to read it right then and there and usually you want a response. "Where are you?", "Bring home dinner." "What time does the movie start." "I’m running late." etc. etc. You could easily send each of these via email, but the problem is they may not get it in time. So you send an SMS message instead because you want immediate attention. 

Continue reading “So why MMS?”

iPhone MMS is here for AT&T customers! Sigh…


As promised (late!) AT&T/Apple released the necessary Carrier update to allow MMS (Multimedia Messaging) on the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

When you plug your iPhone 3G or 3GS (not compatible with the original iPhone) into iTunes,  and check for updates you should now see the update for Carrier Settings is available. I downloaded and installed the update which only took literally about 10 seconds to download and install.


I didn’t notice any change at all until I powered the iPhone off and back on again. Once the iPhone came back up the preferences were there for MMS as well as the Camera icon in the Messages window.


It’s not soup yet


As I expected everyone must be doing this all at once and of course testing it all at once and the servers are slammed!  From my iPhone 3GS I get an error each time I try to send an MMS message although regular SMS messages go through. AT&T warned some customers (via an SMS message yesterday) that it may take time for the feature to actually work and it wouldn’t affect sending SMS. Well I’m seeing that "not working" that they mentioned. I tested another iPhone here and tried using it to send my iPhone an MMS and while it did send, I still haven’t received it yet on my iPhone 3GS (10 minutes has past).  So once again we/I wait….

   MMSsending       .MMSerror


UPDATE! Turns out my initial sending problem was AT&T account related (old data on the account). Called them and they corrected everything. All set now.


What’s your experience been with this update/feature?

Hey AT&T! Summer is almost over! Where is my MMS?


For the Northern Hemisphere, as in the United States, Canada and most of Europe, Fall begins on September 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT.

AT&T promised us that we would have MMS messaging for the iPhone this "Summer".  Although AT&T did recently announce that MMS is coming on September 25th (3 days after summer officially ends), there is still no word on Tethering support (which was given no timeline at all except for "in the Future").

I’m not a fan of AT&T nor do I hate them. I’ve had AT&T service for years before the iPhone. However, I’m starting to see WHY so many people complain about their service. The mere mention of AT&T in a public setting will usually get you a few glares and eye rolls.

We can speculate and take AT&T at their word that in order to allow for iPhones to do MMS, they had to do some network upgrades. However, the odd thing is that MMS is hardly new technology. All other AT&T phones can do this and have been doing this for years. Tethering is also not a new thing. Again, other AT&T smart phones can do this. What this really says is that although AT&T allows both MMS and Tethering on other phones, these features must either be rarely used by non-iPhone users or that they are so hard to do on other phones that most people don’t ever use these features. So it was OK to offer these features with the existing network to non-iPhone users because they couldn’t handle the traffic. Studies have shown that because the iPhone is so easy to use that 80% or more iPhone users do web browsing and email REGULARLY on their iPhones. So it’s a sure bet that iPhone users will also be using MMS too!

Note to AT&T: Advertising that you have the biggest, fastest 3G network doesn’t really mean much if you can’t actually do anything on it!

We all know that the minute Apple announces iPhone availability on another US carrier such as Verizon, that they will see an immediate increase in market share especially from those hold outs that have refused to go on AT&T’s service. Now what will really be interesting is how many people will LEAVE AT&T to go to Verizon for their iPhone service?




UPDATE: Seth, the AT&T Blogger responds!

AT&T FamilyMap vs. MobileMe Find My iPhone


A couple of months ago I reviewed AT&T’s FamilyMap service. This service allows you to track the location of the cellphones you have on an AT&T Family Plan. However, since that time Apple introduced the Find My iPhone feature, which works with iPhones and iPod touch devices as long as you have a MobileMe account ($99/year or less). After I posted my FamilyMap review, many of the blog readers here signed up for the free trial and many said the same thing. "It’s just not accurate enough." Now while I didn’t have a problem with the accuracy of it, I do have a problem continuing to pay for a service I may not need anymore. 


AT&T FamilyMap

This service works by giving you a website that you can go to and "Locate" your loved ones. Depending on the phone the accuracy and the ability to pinpoint the location can vary widely. For example, a phone with a built-in GPS is liable to be more accurately found than a phone without one as it would have to rely on cell tower triangulation. AT&T FamilyMap starts at $9.99/month for up to 2 phones and 14.99/month for up to 5 phones on the same family plan.


MobileMe – Find My iPhone

The MobileMe Find My iPhone feature only works with iPhones and iPod touch devices. You log in to the me.com website, click the settings icon and then click the Find My iPhone link. Your iPhone’s location will be pinpointed on a map. You have to have a MobileMe account to use this feature and MobileMe retails for $99/year (or less if on sale). In order to find more than one iPhone, you would need the Family Pack which is $149/year (or less if on sale). 

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iPhone 3G S Review and a little fun with Woz

iphone3gsinmyhand1 The iPhone 3G S is Apple's newest offering for an already insanely successful product. The iPhone's success has exceeded everyone's expectations and even the naysayers can't deny that Apple came from nowhere and all of a sudden became the market leader that every other phone maker now aspires to be like. If you don't believe me, look at all the other smart phones that were recently released and you'll see "me too" like features and advertising. So what do you do when you have one of the most successful phones ever created? You improve it to keep the momentum going. My original iPhone review 2 years ago has had over 135, 000 reads. If you Google "iPhone Review" mine will come up on the first page. The reason for this success is that my first review was one of the most in depth reviews written. I spent almost 24 hours writing it. Then the iPhone 3G came out last July and I followed up with another in depth review. Now it's time to take a look at the iPhone 3G S, however, this review will not be anywhere near as long or in depth as the last two. It's not because I don't feel like writing, it's just that there isn't as much to cover that I haven't already said. If you have read my iPhone 3G review last year and my iPhone OS 3.0 Review a few days ago, you're 95% there in knowing about the New iPhone 3G S. (Also see my iPhone 3G S Unboxing Video here). Continue reading “iPhone 3G S Review and a little fun with Woz”