So what’s the moral of the story? It works. I accomplished what I hoped to accomplish. I have a good cell phone, a good wireless headset, all the accessories I need, Bluetooth capability on both phone and laptop, the ability to go online (albeit slow).
I am happy with the phone. It is rich in features considering the numerous voice options, WAP, SMS, MMS, built-in Bluetooth, built-in modem, etc. It is quite a step up from the Nokia 8260 that in spite of being slightly heavier and bigger, doesn’t offer a fraction of the features and services. It works well, is easy to use, and reliable. It was well worth the $50, no regrets there, I would recommend it. Seeing the evolution in technology I’m looking forward to the next generation of phones and seeing what they can do.
I am also very happy with the Jabra FreeSpeak Bluetooth headset. It fits well, works well, and is reliable. I had one incident where it lost the connection to the phone, and one incident where it could not answer the call, which I suspect was because I already had one or more data Bluetooth connections open to the phone. Overall, it was well worth the $60, no regrets, I would highly recommend it.
AT&T has been my provider for many years as stated earlier, and overall I am satisfied with them. While I believe they are overpriced, their GSM network could be better, and they are going a little overboard with their restrictions and metering, they are reliable, professional, and have decent customer service based on my experience. I did not have any significant reason to change providers, and I preferred to keep my phone number. Of course everybody’s experience varies, every provider has their fans and enemies, and everybody is entitled to their opinion. This is my subjective experience and opinion – your mileage may vary.
The D-Link Bluetooth adapter also gets my seal of approval. It is affordably priced, it works perfectly, was a breeze to set up, and has not given me any reason to even think about it. I’ve had good experience with D-Link products in the past, and this one is no exception. I recommend it.
ebay is another place that gets my thumbs-up. Instead of being an uninformed consumer paying excruciating prices for accessories at the AT&T store, I was able to get everything I wanted for a fraction of the cost. They would have charged me $20 for the belt holster, $30 for the car charger, $50 for the data cable, and $130 for the Bluetooth headset for a total of $230. Going through ebay instead I paid $67 plus shipping charges. Can’t beat that with a stick.
Speaking of cost: Everybody loves free, including me. Therefore I was impressed to see a good collection of free software available on the Internet for the phone. I ended up successfully experimenting with functionality I hadn’t even planned on when I initially purchased the phone. Being able to change and back up phone settings from the laptop is extremely useful, and being able to create themes and pictures and send them to the phone to customize the hell out of it is a lot of fun. Thanks to floAt and Christersson for their programming efforts.
Another nice side benefit from this project was to learn a lot of information about Bluetooth and mobile technology. It’s always fun to experiment with something that’s fascinating and fun, and learn a ton in the process.
Of course there have been quirks and problems. You better believe me that I did not download, install, learn, understand, configure, and customize everything described in this article in one afternoon. It took several weekends and evenings to gather up all the information from websites, forums, manuals, and most of all through trial and error.
Setting up something like this is definitely not for the faint of heart. Some technical expertise, good troubleshooting skills, patience, and the willingness to read the friggin’ manuals are mandatory requirements for such a project.
The hardest part was to discover all this information from many different resources, filter out the useful stuff and get rid of the hearsay, errors, and useless garbage. The other hard part was to figure out exactly how each item fits into the big picture and needs to be configured properly to work as intended. This lead me to writing this article and put the results in one place for anybody else who is interested in setting up a similar wireless configuration, purchasing any of these items, needs any of this software, is looking for these tweaks, etc. to spare other poor souls from the agony of searching for each morsel on the web.
At this point in time, the speed of the online connection leaves a lot to be desired. Running several basic online speed tests at http://www.bandwidthplace.com/speedtest/ revealed an average speed of 21 to 33 Kbps. The screenshot below displays a typical result.
A connection speed equivalent to a slow dial-up modem is not exactly fun. However, it is quite nice to have a connection at all when on the road, and it is sufficient for checking email, chatting, and basic websurfing. Turning off displaying images by default speeds up web page loading considerably, and reveals many a site who offers much eye candy and little content. In addition, AT&T promises that the quality and speed of their GPRS network will improve drastically over the next year.
Final judgement: If you’re a geek or technically savvy roadwarrior, then this is a great project with nice benefits. If you don’t really need it or are technically challenged, approach with caution.