Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Upgrading the Apparatus

I've acquired several new gadgets over the past four months and I thought that people might be interested in my experiences.

1) New phone - HTC TyTN
With Sourcefire expanding like it is, I need a phone that I can use anywhere in the world. I've been using a Sony z600 for a few years now and buying prepaid SIM cards for whatever country I'm heading to. The downside of this is that nobody can really call me when I'm abroad and if the SIM card runs out of money then I've got to jump through hoops to get it working again. I solved that problem by moving to Cingular and getting the TyTN. The TyTN is a quad-band GSM phone with tri-band HSDPA data and 802.11, plus Bluetooth. It runs Windows Mobile 5 but is still pretty useful despite that. Compared to the Treo 650 it's replacing it's been reliable and pretty straight forward to use. The Windows paradigm is so so on the mobile platform, it's certainly got a lot of clicking required to perform complex tasks compared to Palm. That said, it's a good phone and runs the apps that I need on a mobile device (Mail, IM, SSH and a web browser). Overall I've been about as happy with this phone as I am with any cell phone, the data connectivity is nice and it worked well when I was overseas in December.

2) New laptop - MacBook Pro
I passed on the initial MacBook Pro release and waited very patiently for the Core 2 Duo processors to make their debut in the Apple laptop line and was rewarded with this very nice machine. The Core 2 Duo chip has a few nice new features over the first generation Core Duo chips including the EM64T instruction set, a larger L2 cache, higher performance and lower power consumption. It turns out it also runs cooler than the Core Duo.

Since my laptop is my primary development/presentation/communications/everything machine, I got it maxxed out with a 2.33GHz CPU, 3GB of RAM and the 200GB hard drive and the glossy screen option. It's a heck of a lot faster than the PowerBook it's replacing for pretty much everything I do except maybe MS Office since it's run in emulation via Rosetta. It's also great for running Parallels, the OS X virtualization environment. I've been running XP under Parallels for various esoteric applications, like running my telescope and CCD cameras for astrophotography and it works like a champ.

This is without a doubt the best laptop I've ever owned, it's fast, stable and like all Macs, it just works. It's a great development platform, a great travel machine and all around nice computer.

3) Novatel Wireless XU870 HSDPA modem

I used to use a Novatel EV-DO card on Sprint for my mobile internet needs but the MacBook Pro has an ExpressCard/34 slot and there was no EV-DO card available for it. Luckily, since I was switching to Cingular anyway I found this card. It supports GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA data connections up to 3.6 Mbps and uses a standard SIM card for network access. It also has drivers for OS X available, so it's pretty much a winner across the board. I got a second 3G SIM card from Cingular, set it up as a modem in OS X and it was off to the races! I also got international data roaming turned on for the SIM card so it even worked overseas. I've been surprised at how often it's been able to find an HSDPA signal to connect to, it's worked really well everywhere I've tried to use it (including France and the UK).

Supposedly there's a firmware upgrade that will be coming in the not too distant future that will allow the modem to handle up to 7.2 Mbps over the air. Once it comes out I'll be sure to post my experiences with it.

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At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Said it before... a M$ based phone?? ;-)

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Martin Roesch said...

Yeah, I know. The experiment has been a failure, I'm not using the TyTN any more. It's slow, navigation around the device is painful, and to top it all off it's not a particularly good phone. It's a pretty good palmtop computer and communications device though, but I need a great phone that's a great internet terminal too.

I'm using a Nokia E70 for the time being and eagerly anticipating the iPhone...


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