Mobile Lan

My iPhone 3G is black like that.

Guess who got a 3G iPhone… two weeks early?

Try not to be too jealous of me, but… me!

Hooo yeah, it is SO sweet, being able to download web pages, like 90 times faster. Not to mention, I can access the iTunes Store anywhere now, so I can rock out to 30 second clips of whatever song I want, anytime I want, for FREE. Plus, YouTube works better now, with higher video quality and faster streaming.. not to mention downloading and updating apps is lickety-split!

To top it off.. my 3G iPhone is already UNLOCKED and on T-Mobile, AND I share the 3G network over wi-fi (802.11g) to my laptop, my Nintendo DS, and everybody else riding my bus!

Now, how did I finagle all this awesomeness? You might say, being the greatest corporate blogger IN THE WORLD is finally starting to pay dividends!

Or, you might say… I just got one of these:

The phs300 stands for Pretty Hot Shit 300.

The PHS300 from Cradlepoint

So, the truth is, I’ve still got my old iPhone.

Ain’t nobody beating down my door with free new gadgets to test and review. But, what this “Personal Hot Spot” does is take any one of the USB high-speed data modems on the market right now in the US from Verizon, Sprint and AT+T and turns it into a portable, rechargeable battery-powered, wi-fi hotspot!

I had heard about this thing before but I’d sort of forgotten about it. And with the new iPhone news, I was thinking, “Man, if only the iPhone could just share its 3G network over wi-fi, turning itself into a little portable hotspot, that would make it perfect.”

And that’s what made my brain remember about it; it was right about the time I was testing all the various USB modems and starting to accept that I was going to have a HUGE dongle sticking out of my laptop all the time. The PHS300 saved the day with its 100% pure awesomeness..

THIS is only 99% pure awesomeness.

Pure Awesomeness

Oh, pure awesomeness, let me count thy ways:

1. You can plug any of the various USB modems out there and they immediately just work.
2. Therefore, you don’t have to install any of the relatively crappy software drivers on your laptop.
3. Therefore, my VPN now works fine on all of them.
4. Therefore, macs/pcs/linux machines all work fine… and with zero configuration.
5. Now, dozens of machines/phones/gaming systems can all share your one USB modem.
6. The web-based management it provides works great and has every feature you’d expect from any 802.11b/g wireless router.
7. From completely off to connected to the 3G network on wi-fi only takes about 30 seconds.
8. The battery lasts a bit over 2 hours, enough time for my daily bus rides.
9. The PHS300 also works while charging from the wall.
10. It only costs $145.

More Testing

Being a huge nerd, I decided to do some performance testing of my new 3G wi-fi setup. In this case, since I’d already returned the Sprint Compass 597 USB modem, I tested another Verizon modem (the USB720 this time) vs. the AT+T USBConnect 881 modem, both directly connected to my laptop, and through the PHS300.

Set Up % Loss, Min/Avg/Max Ping Down/Upload
Verizon Direct 0% Loss, 60/88/162 ms 160/28 KBs
Verizon PHS300 0% Loss, 79/117/682 ms 160/28 KBs
AT+T Direct 0% Loss, 124/137/185 ms 230/35 KBs
AT+T PHS300 0% Loss, 118/147/361 ms 110/20 KBs

(A few notes:

1. My apologies to Verizon. It looks like the slowness from my last test was more due to the PCMCIAM interface to my laptop, rather than the speed of their EVDO Rev. A network! Using this USB720 modem brought it up to the speeds I’d seen from Sprint’s modem.

2. I pinged craigslist.org this time instead of google.com. For some reason craigslist’s ping times were much better across all the various networks.)

Now, for the two things I found:

1. The PHS300 added about 10-30ms to average ping times it seemed. No big deal.

2. For some reason the AT+T down/upload speeds were essentially HALVED by the PHS300. I thought that I must have been hitting some (surprisingly low) threshold for throughput of the device, but then the Verizon modem performed the same whether it was through the wi-fi or not! Weird.

There's nothing weird about that.

So…

That “halving” effect is a technical mystery to me… and it’s making it hard for me to decide if I should keep the AT+T modem or just stick with the (USB) Verizon one. HMM! The Verizon USB720 does have this annoying super-bright flashing green light on it, but that doesn’t matter if it just stays hidden in my bag all the time I guess.

Anyway, in case I haven’t made it clear, I really like this PHS300 thing. It’s 100% pure awesomeness. In fact, it’s so awesome, it’s small enough to fit in my pocket, so I can walk around and be a human hotspot, a full five years before the rest of America!

I also like having a hotspot in my car (again, a full five years before it comes standard in all new KIAs).

Especially since you can’t talk on the phone while driving in California anymore, I’m definitely going to have to be doing a lot more emailing, instant messaging, and pushing out while driving!