By Jim Guld
I have had my new Droid device from Verizon Wireless for a few weeks now, and I like it. You don’t need to be a geek to want one. If you are one of the many folks who want a phone just to make calls, the Droid is way overkill. For a phone, it is expensive at $200 with a two-year contract. It’s cheap for a computer, though.
Droid as Computer
The Droid is essentially a computer that can also make phone calls. It is connected to the Internet through the Verizon cellular data network or a local Wi-Fi network. You can browse the Internet, send and receive e-mail, stream or download videos/music and so much more.
Texting or entering data is easy using one of the three keyboards (touch screen vertical or horizontal, and slide-out keyboard).
The Google Search By Voice is a neat feature. Just say, "RV campgrounds" and up come the results.
Some people I know could use the Droid and never need a conventional laptop or desktop computer.
Droid as Internet connection for your laptop
The Verizon data plan for the Droid is unlimited. There is no 5GB limit as with cellular data cards or tethering my old phone using VZaccess Manager. How about using the Droid’s Internet connection to connect my computer like I used to do? Well, I can. I just need PdaNet software for the Droid from June Fabrics.
Tethering is the term we use to describe the hardware and software needed to connect a computer to the Internet using the cellular data connection from a smartphone. It is usually a USB connection, but could be wireless using Bluetooth DUN (dial-up network) or Wi-Fi. A wired connection to the computer is simplest and most reliable. The necessary cable comes as a standard attachment to the Droid.
There are two parts of the system: 1) a program that runs on your computer and stays in the system tray; 2) an app on the Droid. Installation is easy. Follow the easy instructions. Download the installation program from the Web site and run it on your computer. Plug the Droid in to an available USB port. Let the program talk to the phone for a moment to establish communication, and you are ready.
First, start the PdaNet app on the Droid phone and Enable USB Tether. Then, on your computer, click the PdaNet icon in the system tray and connect.
This is a broadband connection and speed is determined by the cellular network. In a good Verizon area, the speeds are excellent. You can easily stream video and not worry about going over your monthly data limit.
The Droid is not the only smartphone that allows tethering. PdaNet has been available for PalmOS phones, the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones for a while.
If you want to use PdaNet for the iPhone, you need to “jailbreak” it, voiding the warranty.
The price of a single license is $23.95. It is a one-time purchase for the Android version. One license covers one phone (you can reuse the license if you switch to a new Android phone). There is no limit on the computer side and your license gives you unlimited free upgrades.
Droid as Internet Connection for your Network
So far, there is no support for connecting the Droid to our Cradlepoint router, but I expect that fairly soon.
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