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Cellular provider opinions - bluetooth support
Ok, last fall I was gung-ho about getting a new Kyocera 7135 Palm phone. Well, Verizon finally has them in, and I went in and poked at the *one* they have for demos at Solomon Pond. It is indeed nifty, just a big bigger than my Star-Tac, and selling for $499. Which is what I paid for my Star-Tac the day they hit the street. And if this were last fall I would've ordered one then and there.

But it isn't, and PalmOS 5 devices are out, with better performance, nicer displays, and bluetooth support. I've had a chance to play with both the Palm Tungsten T and the Sony Clie NX-70V. I know the 70V doesn't have BT, but it has the same form factor and screen as the NZ-90, which does. The physically larger screens, which are hi-res (320x320 & 320x480, respectively) are *so* nice. There is also the Sony Clie TG50, which is 320x320 with a keyboard. (I'm also considering digital cameras, and since the NZ-90 has a 2-megapixel camera built in, that'd probably satisfy me. And for ~$665 (pricewatch.com) the cost about the same, or less, than a similar camera plus a standalone OS5 PDA.)

I couldn't bring myself to settle for the smaller display, lower power, and older OS since I use my PDA a lot more than I use my cell phone.

Since Verizon seems glacial about adding bluetooth to their lineup, I'm looking at other options. It looks like at least AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile offer one or two GSM phones with bluetooth. I really don't care much if my phone is CDMA or GSM, GSM coverage is a LOT better today than it was 5 years ago. I thought Sprint had a bluetooth phone for their PCS/CDMA network, but I don't see one now.

Does anyone have experience with bluetooth support from any cellular provider? Barring that, any experience with AT&T Wireless and/or T-Mobile? I live in Worcester and work in Marlborough, and spend most of my time between Worcester and Boston, so huge roaming areas aren't *to* important. I do travel a bit though.


I am: curious curious
Current Media: fan noise

laudre From: laudre Date: April 18th, 2003 12:29 am (UTC) (Direct Link)

Well... it's dated info...

But back a few years ago, when I was selling wireless for a living (for Verizon, when it was still Bell Atlantic, and for Sprint PCS), and shortly after, I had quite a bit of first- and second-hand exposure to all of the carriers.

I had an Omnipoint phone back about three years ago; Omnipoint was eaten by VoiceStream, which has become T-Mobile. Back then, Omnipoint's customer service was worse than Sprint PCS' legendarily horrifying and evil customer disservice department (as I had to deal with both, at many points, having been a customer of both companies). As for AT&T Wireless, I can't say much, other than that all of the customers who I spoke with about them absolutely hated the service. This was three years ago, though, so they could've improved, but I've got the impression that AT&T coverage in New England hasn't improved much.

Now that I'm once again working in the Wonderful World of Wireless, though in a different part of it, here's what I can say, as someone who takes over 4,000 calls from wireless customers on their phons a week (including the market where you'll be using your phone):

Sprint PCS, which we've just started working with, seems to have improved their network over what it was like back when I sold their phones, and their network falls into the "as long as you've got enough of a signal to get bars, it works well" category. I don't often get a call where I can't make out what a PCS customer is saying.

I never seem to have substantial reception problems with Verizon phones in Northeast markets, except in some rural areas (VT, NH, parts of upstate NY). During the day, when the networks are running above capacity, I see a fair number of dropped calls, though, often without warning.

And Verizon is running on CDMA, which has a much higher user capacity than TDMA (AT&T) or GSM (T-Mobile) (and, yes, I know TDMA and GSM are close relatives), if I'm remembering how the technologies work right. While you might have much better luck with AT&T's customer service, for instance, I'd be uneasy about relying on the things during peak hours. Cellular providers have gone to the point of exceeding their capacities in the attempt to remain profitable (which they do only marginally), and doing that with an inferior (if cheaper) technology seems like a bad idea.

Just my two cents, give or take.
krellis From: krellis Date: April 18th, 2003 07:45 am (UTC) (Direct Link)

Re: Well... it's dated info...

AT&T's legacy network is actually more correctly described as IS-136. Both IS-136 and GSM are TDMA technologies; calling one or the other TDMA isn't technically correct (and AT&T's way of doing that really annoys those of us who know the truth :)). AT&T is actually deploying/deployed a GSM network, now - I think New England is covered under it. A friend of mine on their old IS-136 network hated it and got rid of it as soon as he could.

For a pretty detailed description of CDMA vs. TDMA, if you care, check out this site - it goes into a decent amount of detail about all of the differences between the various transmission methods, protocols, and codecs, including the capacity handling differences that you mentioned.
blarglefiend From: blarglefiend Date: April 18th, 2003 02:03 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Bluetooth is more a handset issue than a carrier one (carriers are only relevant because they subsidise some handsets via contracts), so I reckon I can make useful comments.

If you want standards-compliant Bluetooth, avoid the Nokia handsets. They don't support the standard profile for doing things like address-book sync, so you have to use their software and no other. I also hear that there are issues making the Nokia software co-operate with anything but Nokia BT dongles.

Personally, I'm drooling over the Sony-Ericsson P800. But they're a bit pricey if what you want is a basic phone with BT that'll co-operate with something like a Clie TG50 (my latest object of techno-lust). The T68i is being discounted quite a bit around here now that the P800 is out, so that might be a good choice, and it has that nifty remote control software...

My recollection is that Ericsson had another BT-capable model out before the T68, but I don't remember which one it was. Only that it was selling for a very reasonable price back when I was looking at the T68, but got not-so-great reviews as it had a typical Ericsson user interface.

Can't really comment on carriers, oddly enough. But if you can get a GSM phone that does what you want for a price you're comfortable with, then at least it's portable between carriers by merely changing SIM. CDMA gives me the heebie-jeebies thanks to the lack of network portability, but I will admit that the little Samsung CDMA jobbie I use these days was (a) cheap and (b) pretty decent. Pity it doesn't have Bluetooth -- if it did it'd be pretty much perfect for me.