Exploring the East, Revisiting the West

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Tech Diversion

September 15th, 2009 · 1 Comment

When I checked into the iPhone’s monthly service plan, I was disappointed by the high price of service, which, after taxes and other fees comes to about $90/month. It isn’t only the iPhone that is overpriced; most cell-phone plans cost more than they should given the extent of today’s network and that voice connection only uses a tiny amount of bandwidth. Add to that the fact that current cell-phone technology is essentially a dead end, and I wonder whether these gadgets are really worth owning anyway.

Because of these and other limitations of cell phones and other handheld devices, and the fact that I like the power of a real computer, I’ve avoided them to the extent I could up to now. However, the evolution of WiMax technology has brought some advantages in terms of price and convenience that have given me cause to reconsider my distaste for handhelds.

I have been a big fan of wireless for some time now, having had an intense dislike of unnecessary cables for quite a while. I’ve set up my home office with Clearwire broadband and a VOIP phone, which has finally started to work about as well as a normal land line and has the added benefit of incredibly cheap long distance (I can call China and Europe for two cents per minute from my home phone, and all of North America is free). If I travel to any city with a Clearwire connection, I can bring my modem and phone box along and plug them into any normal telephone and make and receive calls as though I were at home, and I also get the same broadband internet connection on my laptop. This is quite convenient, and requires no more than a power outlet, but the equipment is too bulky to take to a cafe, meeting or park — it isn’t worth dragging around unless you have a place to stay for a few days where you can set up a little desk.

However, Samsung has just come out with a little machine called the “Mondi” that promises to offer WiMax connections (3G and 4G) and is eventually supposed to be enhanced to serve as a miniature Wi-Fi hotspot. The reviews for the Mondi haven’t been glowing, but I see some serious potential in these kinds of devices. With a $40/month plan, I could use one of these devices as a mobile VOIP phone, broadband router and PDA all in one neat little package as well as cut $10/month off my current phone/internet bill and rid my house of even more cables (yay!).

If someone brings out something like the Mondi that does not use Microsoft software, it would be hard to pass it up.

Finally, I see a day when I can dispense with cumbersome modems, cables and telephones, have access to 4G speed on my laptop, and receive all my calls at one phone number — all with one little device I can keep in my pocket and one reasonable monthly bill. Simplicity is elegant.

Tags: Predictions

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 novaseeker // Sep 16, 2009 at 6:11 am

    I agree that it will be nice when we have one usable device.

    The iPhone is a fun toy, really, but yes it is expensive due to the lack of competition (AT&T only, still, more than 2 years after its release). The main pull of the iPhone is the huge number of applications available for it, quite a few of which are very useful. I do find that the screen is too small to be very useful for browsing the internet, however, and so it’s of limited usefulness for one of the core uses of a computer.

    I think right now we’re in a place where the laptops are still too big to be superportable (and the netbooks have limited functionality), while the cell phones are too small to be useful for core computing functions, regardless of their processing power. That would point towards the need for an intermediate device. The netbooks are trying to serve that niche, but not doing it terribly well, I think.

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