Mobility

Review: Palm Pre Plus 3G Mobile Hotspot

IT pros who are often in the field or who require an almost always-on connection may want to check out the Palm Pre Plus Mobile Hotspot feature.

As an IT consultant who is out in the field a lot, sometimes my smartphone will do when I need to google something, download documentation, or connect with another tech, but there are many times when that small screen and awkward keyboard just doesn't cut it; that is, there are times when I really need my laptop and a network connection.

Sometimes I am able to connect to a client's network or grab a wireless signal from the client or a nearby network), but there are times when I cannot do any of these options. At that point, I can depend on the clunky smartphone keyboard or use the smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Believe it or not, some mobile providers don't restrict tethering; for mobile providers that do restrict tethering, if you're willing to jail break your phone, you can get around that restriction. But if you're not willing to risk bricking your phone, you want a legit means of using your smartphone as a hotspot. The Palm Pre Plus 3G Mobile Hotspot from Verizon Wireless allows you to do just that, and it will act as a hotspot for up to five devices. Let's see if the Palm Pre Plus hotspot is the right tool for you.

Requirements

  • Palm Pre Plus from Verizon Wireless
  • A data plan for your Palm Pre Plus
  • A laptop to tether to your phone
  • You might also want a USB cable to connect your phone to your laptop (this will spare your battery).

Who is the target audience?

The Palm Pre Plus 3G Mobile Hotspot is for anyone on the go enough to require an always available wireless access point. While I can see IT consultants, IT support pros, CIOs, and CEOs using this service, it's also useful for anyone who needs this type of service but doesn't necessarily have the technical chutzpah to tackle anything terribly difficult. Why do I say that? Because the Verizon Palm Pre Plus wireless hotspot is simple enough that anyone can take advantage of it.

What problem does it solve?

With the Mobile Hotspot feature, you always have a wireless access point at your fingertips. This is for anyone who needs to be ready for emergencies or feels the smartphone isn't always the best option for mobile computing. This also keeps the user from having to search for the nearest coffee shop or retail location with a Wi-Fi connection.

Standout features

  • Simple to set up
  • Simple to connect to
  • Open and WPA2-encrypted networks are supported.
  • Network name and passkey are configurable.
  • Included in data plan price.

What's wrong?

As with just about any mobile carrier, the devil is in the details. With the standard data plan, you get 5 gigs of monthly allowance to be dedicated to tethering. Beyond that, you are gong to pay $0.05 per MB. The problem is actually monitoring that usage. Without knowing what to monitor and how to monitor, your mobile bill could all of a sudden skyrocket.

The other big issue is battery life. The Palm Pre Plus has a fairly decent battery life during normal use; however, when the device is used as a hotspot, you can sit back and watch the battery drain. So don't think you're going to spend the weekend out in the woods with a hotspot that will last without a source of charging.

You will also notice the speeds of the hotspot are very dependent upon the speeds of your phone's data pipe. If your phone doesn't usually have fast up or down speeds, your hotspot will suffer the same issue.

Make a connection using Mobile Hotspot

To make a connection using the Mobile Hotspot feature, follow these simple nine steps:

  1. Power up your Palm Pre Plus.
  2. Click the UP arrow on the desktop to reveal the applications.
  3. Scroll until you find the Mobile Hotspot icon.
  4. Click the Mobile Hotspot icon.
  5. Click the Security "button".
  6. Select the security type and give the hotspot a password (if necessary).
  7. Slide the Hotspot power switch to the "on" position.
  8. Go to your laptop and select the Mobile Hotspot from the wireless networks listing (the name of the Hotspot will be the one listed on your phone's Mobile Hotspot app) and allow it to connect.
  9. Enter the password for the hotspot that you created (if necessary).

When you have successfully connected, you will hear a chime on your phone.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

There are times when business users must have network access when network access wouldn't normally be available -- that is when Verizon's Palm Pre Plus is a must-have for demanding users. Mobile hotspots are not a perfect replacement for a standard access point, but they are outstanding go-to tools if all else fails. For IT pros who are often in the field, these types of devices are quickly becoming a necessity.

User rating

If you have deployed a Palm Pre Plus for use as a hotspot, how would you rate your experience?

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
kmendez
kmendez

I have my Pre through Sprint and it's fantastic. I don't understand why people have been quick to criticize the Pre, it is a great phone and an even better smart phone.

nvrtis
nvrtis

One minor annoyance is that the hotspot 'chimes' when ever somebody connects. Good because it lets you know that there is a device connecting. Bad because some devices (such as an iTouch) drop the wifi after some inactivity, then reconnection... This can get to be annoying.