Sierra Wireless has a secret weapon in the hotspot wars: a booster dock for its new Sprint 4G Overdrive Pro mobile hotspot that can truly send its WiMAX reception and speeds into overdrive. Ensconced in the dock, 4G WiMAX reception jumps by 50 percent, a Sierra product demonstrator in the company's booth told me.
The $99.99 (minus $50 rebate) Overdrive Pro is better in every way than the Overdrive hotspot it replaced. It's smaller. It boots up faster. It has a bigger LCD screen to show status information. The back is a grippy, soft-touch plastic rather than the greasy, slick black plastic of the last model. It has easily accessible dual external antenna ports.
And it has that dock. The dock isn't very portable; it's about the side of an iPod dock. It's really made for your desk. Sprint is the only wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited 4G plans, so one of the aims may be for a docked Overdrive to double as an alternative to a home Internet connection.
Pop the Overdrive into the dock, and it can charge, tether to a PC as a modem, and gets that 50 percent signal boost. The dock will be available sometime in May, Sierra reps at the booth said. They weren't clear on the price.
The Overdrive Pro goes up against the new Novatel Wireless MiFi 4082, which I've been using at the show. The MiFi is smaller and classier-looking than the Overdrive; I suspect it will have slightly longer battery life, too, but that's without any real evidence. The MiFi's e-ink indicators don't give you nearly as much information as the Overdrive's LCD display, though, and it doesn't have the dock option.
We'll test both products as soon as we can get hold of them.
Sprint today announced that the Overdrive Pro 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless will be available on March 20. It is the next generation of Sprint's previous Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot, increases the number of shared users from five to eight, and has a 45 percent larger LCD screen.
Sprint claims the Overdrive Pro offers a number of enhancements over its predecessor, focused mostly on performance and usability. There is a 35 percent improvement in power-up and power-down times. The integrated LCD screen is now 45 percent larger to provide a greater viewing area, while the device itself is actually smaller for easier portability. And the LCD can now display detailed connection and device information through additional screens that can be accessed by double-pressing the power button.
The Overdrive Pro allows users to connect up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices simultaneously–including laptops, tablets, eReaders, gaming devices, cameras and even smartphones from other carriers–through a single connection (via Wi-Fi) to Sprint's 3G or 4G networks.
Sprint will allow customers to start reserving the Echo on March 26 via sprint.com/echo, for pickup on April 17. On that day, the smartphone will also be available in Sprint stores and online.
The Kyocera Echo was announced in February. It features two, 3.5-inch 800-by-480 LCD touch-screen displays that can operate side-by-side, independently, or together via a 4.7-inch integrated display.
Dreading the hassle that comes with moving your contacts to a new phone? Don't despair. You can transfer your address book from your old phone into your new Verizon iPhone 4 in less than 10 minutes, you don't need a pen and paper, and in most cases, it's free.
Below are instructions for extracting your address book from most phones on the big four U.S. carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. There are only two things you need before diving in—active service on your current phone, and a Gmail account (unless you're already a Verizon Wireless subscriber).
AT&T on Wednesday announced the launch of unlimited free calls for select AT&T plans, regardless of your recipient's provider.
Starting today, the 'Unlimited Mobile to Any Mobile' plan will be available to AT&T subscribers with a Nation or FamilyTalk plan who subscribe to unlimited messaging. AT&T's unlimited messaging add-on costs $20 per month for individuals and $30 per month for those on the FamilyTalk plan. The deal only applies to in-country voice calls.
Activate your unlimited mobile-to-mobile promotion by visiting www.att.com/anymobile from today onwards.
The dual-screen Kyocera Echo smartphone for Sprint lets you do two things at once, or look at the world through a 4.7-inch window. But it's only the vanguard of a legion of dual-screen devices that may be coming to American shelves, Sprint and Kyocera said today.
First, the phone itself: the Echo is a crazy device, but it thinks the way a lot of us do. It multitasks. The Echo starts out as a standard touch-screen Android 2.2 phone, and it works fine like that. But then you slide the 3.5-inch, 800-by-480 LCD screen, it does a strange hingey thing, and pow: the screen almost merges with another screen hidden under it. (Look at the slideshow below to understand.)
The Echo's unique hinge is made out of "liquid metal," Sprint's vice president for device operations Fared Adib said. It felt like plastic to me, but he said it was metal - and when tested, it was stiff and strong. The phone can survive a seven-foot drop test, he said.
If you're planning to get a new smartphone on Sprint, you should probably do so in the next couple of weeks. After Jan. 30, data plans for smartphones activated on the carrier will go up in price by $10 a month, the company announced today.
Called "Premium Data," the mandatory charge is added to the Sprint's existing unlimited $70 Everything Data plan, pumping it up to $80 a month. Sprint says the increase is to address its users' "growing appetite for a richer mobile experience." The charge affects only smartphones activated Jan. 30 or later—existing customers will not experience the increase until they upgrade.
2010 will come to an end in just a few short hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, but Microsoft gets the top two spots with our Xbox 360 dashboard tour, and the an unboxing of the new Xbox 360 slim. Also getting an honorable mention is the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Popcorn Hour Popbox, among others.
We've come to the end of another year, and as we wave goodbye to 2010, we figured it was only fitting that we share the most popular stories published on Gear Live in 2010, as determined by our readers (we've also got the top ten most read stories regardless of publish date!) These are the ten stories that were read the most, and when you consider that fact, it's pretty surprising to see what made the list. Let's kick it off with our most read story of the year:
Fring App Brings Skype Video Calling to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi and 3G:
Sure, Skype just formally announced video calling in the Skype 3.0 iOS app, but Fring brought us Skype video calls months ago! The thing is, Skype pulled that feature from Fring with the quickness, but that didn't stop this from being the most read story we published in 2010!
We have a Samsung Galaxy Tab in and wanted to give you guys a look at the first major competitor to the iPad. The Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch Android tablet available from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and soon AT&T. It sports a 7-inch display, and in all actuality, just feels like a really big Android phone. Hit the video above for the full scoop.
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