We have reviewed the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus on wireless CDMA/EVDO carrier Verizon Wireless. The most notable upgrade for the webOS devices–previously available on Sprint sans the Plus moniker–is the ability to share the Pre Plus’ and Pixi Plus’ internet connection with up to five other devices, similar to the stand-alone MiFi. WiFi tethering, unlike Bluetooth tethering, removes some of the bottleneck in speed that Bluetooth may have. Additionally, it allows multiple simultaneous connections. This way, your Pre Plus can bless your laptop, Zune HD, or iPod Touch with wireless connection while on the go.
This ability to share your mobile broadband connection doesn’t come cheap. Verizon Wireless will be charging $40 per month for 5 GB of data transfer–that’s in addition to the monthly cost of a voice plan as well as a $30 smartphone plan. Your combined broadband data (for the Pre Plus and for the tethering ability) will run $70 monthly. However, in comparison with current solutions, such as the unlimited data plan on a USB modem sold by the carrier, the $70 charge is very reasonable and doesn’t seem atrocious. With the unlimited data plan on wireless internet devices (netbooks, USB modems, PC card modems), you get a 5 GB per month allowance and are charged $60 per month. The $70, in contrast, for the Pre Plus includes the data cost for your smartphone–which is unlimited–as well as the 5 GB tethering limit. Additionally, with USB and PC card modems, you can only use the data on one device at a time–if you’re using your laptop, your friend next to you can’t share–but the Pre Plus allows sharing with five other devices.
The Mobile Hotspot app will be available for download in Palm’s App Catalog on January 25th when the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus will be available for sale.
The Mobile Hotspot app is easy to use and setup–you can rename your network as well as provide a passphrase for users to access the “router” or hotspot so that you can prevent unauthorized users from eating up at your 5 GB limit. It’s a very consumer-friendly setup and the app also displays how many users–and who–are connected at any given time. Yet, while the data costs seem reasonable in comparison to other solutions, for the average consumer who may need to hop on the laptop every now and then while at a coffee shop to quickly look up something, the extra $40 on top of the $30 smartphone data plan is still quite costly, especially in this economy. However, on the other hand, we do get Verizon Wireless being careful in this realm–the carrier has seen what rival AT&T endured with the high traffic that the iPhone brought. By being cautious, it will hopefully attract less data-hungry laptops on its network.