Innocent Bystander

A little tech, a little current affairs, and my view on whatever has my attention at the moment...

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Phone Update

Well, I made my decision. I bought the ETen M500 from Mad Monkey Boy's Gadgets. So far I'm really impressed with the device. As you can see from the pictures, it's smaller than my old Ipaq 4150, but it's quite a bit thicker. So far I've found that it has really good sound quality as a phone, and I like the interface used by Windows Mobile for phone operations. It comes chock full of applications, more than any other PDA I've had in the past, although I've got a long way to go to figure all that's on there and how to use them.

Setting up the M500 to work with T-Mobile was much easier than I thought it might be. All I needed to do was pop my SIM card into the M500 and it was ready to send and receive calls (SIM cards are only in phones on the Cingular and T-Mobile networks, if you have Verizon, Sprint, and I believe Nextel, then your phone doesn't have a SIM card.) It took just a few minutes on this website to find the settings I needed for the data connection, and viola I was ready to go!

The downside of the device: T-Mobile. The M500's biggest weakness happens to be the frequency that T-Mobile uses primarily on it's network (1900MHz). I can see both the Cingular network and the old AT&T Wireless network on a fairly regular basis, but T-Mobile can be a little challenging. It's a little frustrating, but not enough to drive me to hate the phone... at least not yet.

Now you may be wondering, what is the phone? I've never seen it at my local T-Mobile or Cingular store, or any other cell phone store I've ever been to for that matter. This is one of the cool things about GSM or Global Standard for Mobiles, GSM is a standard used by cell phone networks around the world (Hence the word Global in the name). The key piece of the GSM standard is that your phone number and assorted information is stored on the SIM card mentioned earlier, and not on your phone. This means you can take your SIM card and stick it in any GSM phone and the phone will work with your phone number. Verizon and Sprint use a standard called CDMA where your phone's ID is what identifies you on the network, you can't change phones on a CDMA network without notifying your carrier, and they may (read that will) prevent phones that you didn't get from them from working on their network. On a GSM network, your carrier doesn't know (and probably doesn't care) what phone you're using, that is as long as you don't call them for support if it doesn't work!

The M500 I bought is an "unlocked" GSM phone. Which means that I can stick any GSM carrier's SIM card in it, and the phone will work. When it comes to many electronics devices, I hate to say it, but the US doesn't get much of the really cool stuff. That all goes to Europe and Asia, we often times get the dumbed down budget stuff that's a few years behind what's new and cool in Europe and Asia. But if you can find a reliable electronics importer, you too can get some of the cool toys!


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