Earlier this week, TechRepublic colleague, Jason Hiner, Executive Editor of Tech Sanity Check posted a good story about three gadgets that helped [him] survive CES 2008.
Interestingly, all three were “enterprise-related” wireless gadgets. The first “gadget” Hiner discusses is the OQO handheld PC with integrated Broadband Wireless Internet Access via Sprint. The second “gadget” was the odd-looking, but apparently very functional Jawbone wireless (Bluetooth) headset. Hiner’s experience at CES 2008 was probably about as tough a trial as it gets in dealing with the intense background noise at a colossal trade show.
The third “gadget” Hiner discusses is the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U Broadband Wireless Internet Access modem distributed by Verizon Wireless. Interesting that Hiner apparently has a different, perhaps not yet generally released version of the 595U. I use the 595U distributed by Sprint Nextel, and unlike the unit in Hiner’s photograph, mine does not have an extendable antenna.
I agree with Hiner that Broadband Wireless Internet Access “gadgets” such as the 595U sometimes don’t perform well in venues such as the massive exhibit halls of Las Vegas and CES 2008. (Ironically, as I was composing this story at a wireless-related conference, I was using their “show” Wi-Fi network, which all of the sudden stopped working. I switched over to my Sprint Nextel 1xEV-DO Rev. A modem, connected uneventfully, and continued working.) One reason is that the wireless networks are typically saturated with other users, not to mention that there were undoubtedly many new devices being demonstrated “live” on networks. Another is that the venues themselves are challenging to provide adequate coverage. Outside such venues, my experience with my Sprint Nextel 595U is that coverage is surprisingly good and surprisingly comprehensive. I’ve even gotten good Internet Access using the 595U (albeit, “falling over” to the slower 1xRTT service, from the more usual 1xEV-DO Rev. A) on a fast ferry between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia.
I partially disagree with Hiner’s statement “I wouldn’t recommend any of them as a primary Internet connection…” that if your primary computer usage is on a laptop, I think that wireless telephony Broadband Wireless Internet Access is now good enough for a primary Internet connection, provided you’re in an area that provides HSPA (using GSM) or 1xEV-DO Rev. A (Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless) “Broadband” service. I partially agree with Hiner that Verizon Wireless’ 1xEV-DO Rev. A service isn’t suitable as a primary Internet connection because of their stated limits on allowed types of usage and an overall cap of (if memory serves) 5 Gigabytes per month of data transfer. My experience with Sprint Nextel is that they do not have, or enforce, such limits.