Review by allquixotic
Good "Amazing reliability; clarified terms of service"
- Location: Pasadena,Anne Arundel,MD
- Cost: $50 per month (24 month contract)
- Install: about 1 days
Bad "5GB cap is too small compared to transfer speeds"
Overall "Great if you're on the go, but only for web/email"
|Pre Sales Information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
I just completed a review of my abysmal Verizon DSL, and thought I should share my polar opposite experience with Verizon Wireless.
In 2006 I was due for a cellphone upgrade as part of my 2 year contract renewal with Verizon. I went to a brick-n-mortar Verizon store in a local mall to check out their offerings.
Then I saw the Samsung SCH-i730. Based on its price, features and the tantalizing prospect of broadband on the go (which I had never heard of before then), I emptied my discretionary spending fund and went for the unlimited data plan, and the phone itself retailed at $699. Whew!
The price sure hurt in those early days -- the service was $44.99 for "unlimited" and there was still the implicit 5GB cut-off if you read the fine print. And the smartphone was a rip-off. Its feature set wasn't worth that price.
Before I knew about the potential ToS violation that is tethering, I used to do it all the time with my SCH-i730 -- this helped me stay connected to the net all the way across the country on a vacation trip via Amtrak train, from Maryland to California. Sure, there were substantial periods of having no coverage (this is to be expected out in the plains of absolutely nowhere), but every major city and even some rural areas had either 1xRTT or EvDO. Cool. 3 years ago, having anything faster than dialup on a dual core ThinkPad, riding a train going 70mph in the plains of Illinois, was pretty amazing. Of course, I was completely oblivious to the fact that this whole time I wasn't supposed to be tethering, and I was probably being monitored closely because of the way I was using the service (i.e. more than just checking email).
Fast forward to 2009. Verizon clarified their TOS, which had always been that you would get cut off if you used over 5GB/month on the "unlimited" plan. Now they no longer call it "unlimited", which is a real drag; but at least now they aren't outright liars. I got a new (and much cheaper) phone, due to the fact that Windows Mobile has advanced to a new major release and Verizon isn't updating the SCH-i730, and because my i730's battery is just about useless, and because the i730 was slowly becoming frail and beaten up with age. Understandable. It was a rugged and useful little device during its time.
My new smartphone is a Verizon SMT5800, a re-branded HTC LIBR100. The capabilities are almost identical to the i730, except that it cuts out some of the features I didn't need of the i730: I hardly ever used the i730's WiFi (802.11b/g), its IrDA (infrared), and the touchscreen didn't make things easier. I like buttons. Other than that, its CPU, RAM and NAND seem comparable to the i730, but this phone only retails at $160. It's also got a standard Mini USB-A hookup, which means that the cable that comes with every MP3 player, camera, or other small miscellaneous digital device will work with my phone just the same. This is huge for the convenience factor.
The SMT5800 has similar software issues to the i730 that I blame on Windows Mobile (I'm a Linux guy primarily), but I can work around them. The important features are still there.
Anyway, the phones are good, but the service itself is infinitely more valuable. If I could somehow get two EvDO Rev. A connections to a single box, I would buy the modem and pay $100 - $120/month to get 2 x Rev.A speeds, and make that my primary home internet connection. But with the current transfer caps at 5GB, I couldn't very well do that, could I?
In its current state, EvDO Rev. A on Verizon's network is an outstanding way to look something up on Google Maps or Skyfire (my mobile browser of choice) while you're driving around looking for somewhere to eat, or a hotel, or whatever. But the bandwidth caps make tethering or any sort of "interesting" uses (even instant messaging apps on the phone) impossible.
I give it two thumbs up because it's just so amazingly reliable, and the coverage of the network is actually quite good, speaking from experience on a round trip cross-country train ride. I hope that someday this kind of reliable, wide-area connectivity will replace land lines that take years to finally get hooked up to your house. And if there's a problem with a cell tower, it affects hundreds of users, not just you, so they prioritize fixing it. That means you won't have to beg Verizon to fix your problem.
UPDATE 2012: The 700 MHz LTE network is incredible, and the devices have advanced by miles since the days when I wrote this review. My current device is a Razr Maxx HD. The devices are great, but the same old data caps are still around. Verizon still wants $10 for every gigabyte that travels over their network. It is highway robbery. While the capabilities of the handsets and network have improved, my opinion of Verizon has languished, as they have failed to price data at a semi-affordable rate.
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