By Christopher Spera | March 15, 2004 12:50 AM
The iPAQ sleeve I mentioned has gone the way of the dodo. It still
works with iPAQ 3000 and 5000 series devices running PPC2002 on GSM/GPRS
networks…IF you can find it; but its day is largely over. From
what I understand, there’s a petition circulating on the Internet demanding
that HP release WM2003 drivers for the sleeve, and support it on 38/39/5000
series devices running the newer OS. However, today, we also have
full blown PDA-Phones and new hybrids like the Motorola MPx. But,
like always, I’m just a little ahead of myself…
Many people have seen two basic kinds of converged devices hit the market:
a SmartPhone and a PDA-Phone. Despite what everyone may think,
AND how device manufacturers market their devices, all PDA-phone combos
are NOT SmartPhones. A SmartPhone is a converged, phone-based
device combining long-range, telecommunications capabilities and tools
with PDA functions. A SmartPhone is more phone than PDA.
Devices in this category include the immensely popular Treo 600, the
Samsung i330 and i600, and the Motorola MPx200.
A PDA-Phone is a converged, Personal Digital Assistant device combining
the ability to manage your Appointments, Contacts and Tasks with long-range,
telecommunications capabilities and tools. A PDA-Phone is more
PDA than phone. Devices in this category include the immensely
popular XDA/ Seimens SX56/ T-Mobile PPC Phone, the XDA II/ MDA-II/ i-Mate
Phone Edition, the Hitachi G1000, and the Samsung i700.
Not having seen the Motorola MPx first hand, I have NO idea if its a
SmartPhone, a PDA-Phone; or if Motorola has created a new category of
device. Time will tell, but I can’t wait to find out.
Over the past 2 months, I’ve been using a Samsung i700 Pocket PC Phone
Edition Device (a PDA-Phone) on Verizon’s 1xRTT network. I wanted more
PDA than phone. I wanted a touch screen (which some SmartPhones
don’t have) and I wanted a Pocket PC vs. a PalmOS based device.
Since I had a 3 year old Verizon account, it was logical for me to gravitate
to the i700. Has it lived up to my expectations? Is it the
device for you? Let’s take a look and see…
First of all, any cell phone, whether a SmartPhone
or PDA-Phone, is only as good to the owner as the network coverage their
carrier has. Period. I don’t care if the device you have
is a portable, well adjusted HAL 9000, if its cellular network coverage
is sparse or spotty, its not going to do you any good. No signal
(or the wrong signal…roaming charges are expensive) = not so good.
First of all, any cell phone, whether a SmartPhone
My wife recently had a Cingular account that had gone off-contract.
As a result, I had the opportunity to give her my phone and number and
get a new account with a new carrier if I wanted to…depending on the
converged device I chose. Being a Verizon customer and liking
their coverage, I ultimately decided to stay with them; but I did look
at T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless and Cingular as possible new carriers
Looking at coverage maps for all of these carriers, and then the devices
they offered, made my choice very easy…
TDMA Network has decent coverage. They were a serious candidate…
uses the Siemens SX56 Pocket PC Phone on their network. Finding
one of these at a good price was a bit difficult, though. Amazon
had all kinds of specials; but NONE of them were available to me in
Nashville, TN. I don’t know why, and neither did anyone I talked
to at Amazon. As you can see from this map, TN is well covered
by their network.
GSM coverage sucks! They have some serious infrastructure
building to do…
time I was looking for a PPC Phone, T-Mobile was offering their PPC
Phone for $199. I could get one of these pretty easily; but their
coverage outside of any major Interstate corridor just plain sucks.
With Verizon’s and Cingular/AT&T’s coverage nearly encompassing
the ENTIRE lower 48 States, T-Mobile has a serious problem: Shi…
ummm, go, or get off the pot. You may have very inexpensive pricing
plans; but your coverage is so poor that I can’t get a signal outside
of my local coverage area at all. Build up your infrastructure,
or get-out of the US Cellular market. And you’d better hurry.
With AT&T now part of Cingular, T-Mobile needs to take notice.
AT&T Wireless was a "smaller" carrier with rate plans
similar to T-Mobile’s. Now that they’re gone, Cingular represents
a better value and has much better coverage via their GAIT Network (see
In my opinion, T-Mobile will need to do something serious in order to
attract new and to keep current customers. They may have some
attractive rate plans, but since their coverage is so poor, you can’t
use their phones in many areas. For example, according to their
above map, if you live in North or South Carolina, you can’t get T-Mobile
and be in a local coverage area. Those areas that do have coverage
in those two states are on their digital roaming network, and then there
are some areas of the Carolinas that don’t have coverage at all.
T-Mobile as a cellular carrier is a poor choice unless you live in the
North Eastern US Coastal States, in the South/ Eastern area of Texas,
Minneapolis/ St. Paul, MN, or in the middle portion of the State of
California, and don’t leave your local calling area. All remaining
T-Mobile coverage is concentrated around major US Interstate Corridors,
and then not all of the Eisenhower Interstate System is covered…
GSM coverage is better than T-Mobile’s…
GSM coverage is better than T-Mobile’s, but that’s not saying much.
I theoretically have better coverage with Cingular than with T-Mobile,
but in real-world use, my wife had problems with poor signal strength
all over Nashville. Cingular also DOES NOT have
a Windows Powered Pocket PC Phone. Blackberries… Oh yeah.
They’re lousy with those. Who wants a Blackberry?? I didn’t…
When you combine Cingular’s GSM coverage with AT&T’s TDMA coverage,
in the new, combined Cingular organization, you get what’s called a
GAIT Network. GAIT Combines both GSM and TDMA; but requires handsets
that can function on both networks in order to take advantage of both.
GAIT Network…Now this is coverage! Only the most remote areas
of the US lack coverage.
is, I don’t know of any GAIT compatible devices. It may be that
the new Motorola MPx will work on a GAIT Network; but I haven’t heard
anything to this effect. This network option also wasn’t available
to me when I purchased my i700.
CDMA Coverage WAS the best game in town…
A few things
about Verizon’s coverage vs. AT&T’s TDMA coverage that are important
to note are signal strength and then, signal strength. With Verizon,
I can get a 3/5 bar signal 230 feet underground here in Nashville.
Most of our AT&T corporate customers here at the office have trouble
getting signals in their basements. I have very rarely had a dropped
call on my StarTAC or my LG-VX6000. Most of our AT&T corporate
customers here at the office HATE their AT&T Wireless phones.
They have trouble keeping a signal on the west side of their office
and the southeast corner of their coffee table, let alone underground.
So, keeping with my original statement that a cell phone is only as
good as the coverage and signal strength its carrier has, I decided
to stay with Verizon. Verizon has a the Kyocera 7135, a PalmOS
4.1 SmartPhone, the Samsung i600, a WM2003 SmartPhone, and the
Samsung i700, a PPC2002 PDA Phone. Since I am interested in more
PDA than phone, I ported my wife’s number from Cingular to Verizon,
did an ESN transfer from my LG-VX6000 to her newly ported number, and
chose the Samsung i700 for my existing number.
The Samsung i700 is a Pocket PC first and foremost.
What’s in the Box, Dude?
As such, it is delivered and boxed as a Pocket PC. The device
comes with a desktop cradle, 2 styli, 1 AC Adapter, 1 Standard Li-Ion
Battery, 1 Extended Li-Ion Battery, 1 Leather Carrying Case, 1 User’s
Manual CD, 1 Getting to Know Your New Phone & Service CD, 1 Wireless
Sync Start-Up CD, and 1 i700 Software Companion CD (Includes ActiveSync
3.5 and Outlook 2000…Huh? More on this software debacle later.)
The Samsung i700 is a Pocket PC first and foremost.
new i700 and the Contents of the Box
As I mentioned, I ported my wife’s Cingular number over to Verizon.
Honestly, if I weren’t able to do this, I wouldn’t have been able to
get the deal done. Neither my wife or I wanted to part with our well
established phone numbers, and I had just renewed my contract with a
new phone upgrade in September of 2003. Since number porting is
new (since November 2003), there were a few hiccoughs. After the
port began, my wife’s Cingular phone went inactive. She was supposed
to be able to receive calls on it until the port finished. This
was not the case. Her new Verizon phone was supposed to be able
to make calls during the port, with full functionality coming after
the port finished. It was effectively dead until the port finished.
If you port a cell number from one carrier to another, the before is
ok, and the after is good; but the during can be a real pain.
If you are new to PDA-Phones, please note, that buying and using a Pocket
PC Phone is just a little different than buying and using a regular
Pocket PC. I am very much into being the first person to touch
or play with my device. I want to take it out of the box and study
it first for a while before I actually start pushing buttons.
If I can charge a battery first BEFORE turning it on for the first time,
I like to do that. Not the case with the i700.
Buying a PDA from a cell phone store is a bit on the weird side.
Absolutely NO ONE in any of the Verizon stores here in the Nashville
area (that I bumped into) knew ANYTHING real-world about the i700; or
any other PDA for that matter. Don’t ask them any technical questions
about the PDA. They probably won’t know the answer. As far
as the phone goes, the chances of the sales person/ tech having any
real knowledge (past the basics), is a crap shoot. Actually putting
you hands on an available i700 is also a crap shoot. I got mine
simply because two units were mistakenly shipped to the Verizon store
in Murfreesboro, TN and I happened to call in on that day looking for
However, Verizon has to configure the phone so that the ESN is recognized
by the network, and so the sales person pulled the device out of the
box, put the standard battery in the device and turned it on.
After going through the initial PPC setup screens, he was able to get
to the Phone applet and program the phone. After it could make
and receive calls, we talked about Voice and Data Plans.
The following is the voice plan that I chose for me and my wife.
We each get about 800 minutes (but there’s nothing that says one has
to stay to that 800 minutes), but no more than 1600 minutes total between
the two phones. As of this writing, the noted costs were associated
with the plan that I chose.
Choicesm Family SharePlansm* 1600
long distance is included from your home airtime rate area.* Domestic
roaming is $0.69/ minute. CDMA tri-mode phone with specific software
and preferred roaming list required. No activation fee for two-year
agreements. $35 activation fee per line on one-year agreements.
One- or two-year agreement required. $175 early termination fee
applies to each line. Long distance and roaming rates for International
calls where available will vary.
* Airtime charges apply. Night hours are 9:01 PM – 5:59 AM, Monday
– Friday. Weekend hours are 12:00 AM, Saturday – 11:59 PM, Sunday.
Peak hours are all other times except certain holidays.
**If calling outside your FamilyShare Plan account, calls will
be rated against your price plan allowance, not your IN-Network
The following are data plans available for the i700 as of this writing.
These charges are over and above any Voice Plan you choose.
or two-year agreement required. $35 activation fee on one-year
agreements. $175 early termination fee applies per line. Long
distance and roaming rates for international calls (where available)
will vary. Digital service, features and promotions are not available
in all areas, may not follow you across the entire America’s Choice
home airtime rate and coverage area and may be limited to the
Verizon Wireless digital network. Plans are not available in all
areas. 411 Connect is $1.25 per call plus airtime. To get
home airtime rates, calls must be placed within designated home
airtime rate and coverage area and on a preferred carrier as defined
by the preferred roam list. Tolls, taxes, surcharges, including
a universal service fee, regulatory fee and other fees, such as
E911 (which varies by market) apply in addition to airtime.
With the i700, both a Voice and Data plan is required, or you will likely
incur big charges against your bill, especially if you use the device
to surf the Internet. Verizon’s data network, called Express Network,
not only has two different plan choices, but also two different configurations.
The 5MB Data Plan, for $29.99 a month will get you access to the Internet,
but only at speeds to a max of 14.4kbps.
The Unlimited Data Plan, gets you access to the EN, but with speeds
nearing 144kbps. While Verizon indicates that this is an "unlimited"
access plan, real world use of this plan by registered users indicates
that "unlimited" caps out at about 100MB. After that,
you end up getting charged $0.25/ minute Home Area, and $0.69/ minute
if Roaming. I can see the application of roaming charges,
but 100MB is NOT unlimited access. Unlimited is unlimited. Period.
I hate it when vendors play semantics and fail to define what their
definition of the word, "is" is.
Anyway, I chose the $29.95, 5MB Data Plan, meaning I will rarely check
my personal e-mail when I am out and about. I will occasionally
check movie times at a local theatre; and in a quick pinch, pay a bill
when I have a now identified "senior moment." (Though they
seem to have hit me a tad early…) My data plan gives me access
to the Internet on my i700; but as I am not dependant upon SMS messages
from a database server, nor does my company allow VPN access to our
Exchange Server from Pocket PC’s, I just can’t seem to find any justification
for the "unlimited" data plan.
Express Network Coverage Map. Things are mighty "naked"
Looking at the coverage map also helped me make my decision. While
most of TN is covered, and while I do travel on occasion for business
and pleasure, there are a number of States and HUGE regions of the country
that simply aren’t covered by EN yet. I just can’t justify $50 bucks
a month to surf the ‘Net from my phone… Even at 144kbps, it just ain’t
worth it; and remember, that charge is OVER AND ABOVE what you spend
on voice calls… OUCH!
OK, now that I was set up with the right voice and data plans, and the
phone was making and taking calls, I shoved everything in a plastic
Verizon Wireless bag and headed out the door…
Samsung i700 Pocket PC Phone has the following specifications:
64 MB SDRAM
32 MB NAND Flash ROM
5.2 x 2.8 x 0.6 (in inches w/standard battery)
240 X 320 Pixel, 65,000 Color, TFT Touch-Sensitive LCD Display,
3.5 Diagonal Inches
Up To 17 Lines Of Dynamically
Adjustable Backlight Settings
Band/Single Mode (800/1900 mHz) – Digital Only CDMA
Rotating Digital Camera
(640 x 480, 320
x 240, 160 x 120)
Serial Infrared Port