A student told me about this application after I'd noted that I had just ordered Verizon's Broadband Access Connect for 15 bucks a month (more on that in a moment).
If you have a smartphone with a high-speed data connection, wouldn't it be nice to be able to use that connection with your laptop? PdaNet from June Fabrics Technology is an application for the Palm OS and Windows Mobile that lets you do just that.
Set up and use are as easy as you could hope for. After installing the app on your device and Windows desktop or laptop, you hook up your smartphone, click a button, and you're connected to the Net.
It's that convenience you're buying with PdaNet. Anyone with a goodly amount of expertise using a smartphone, and who is willing to spend some time on the Web looking up obscure settings for their particular carrier and then entering them into their PC and mobile device can probably do exactly what this application does. Or you can pay your $34 and be up and running in less than 5 minutes. It's your call.
Here's how simple this app is to use with a Windows Mobile smartphone. When you hook your device up to your PC, an ActiveSync session will start. At the same time, a windows will pop up asking if you want to connect to the wireless Internet. Tap on that window and PdaNet will connect you. That's it; you're done.
One thing you have to be aware of is that PdaNet is not going to give you free wireless access to the Internet. You have to have a data plan from your wireless carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.).
One of the nicest parts about PdaNet is you don't need to pay for one of the more expensive laptop plans. A standard "unlimited" smartphone plan will work fine. That can cover the cost of this application in a month or two.
But there are limits. Carriers monitor how much wireless data their customers use, and when you buy an "unlimited" plan, you need to be aware that there definitely are limits. If you're a very heavy downloader, you're going to get cut off. You should be fine with web surfing and email, but if you start doing some file sharing, expect to get nasty emails from your service provider.
My unlimited plan is limited to 5 gigabytes and even with the podcast/vlog downloads via my Q, I haven't come anywhere close to a merest fraction of an iota of that threshold yet. I do anticipate higher data transfer amounts now, though, because I'm using this connection at home as an alternative to dialup as well as a mobile option.
I was completely prepared to give Verizon 15 bucks a month extra for the privilege of tethered service even though I already pay through the nose for my voice/data plan. It seems rather unwarranted for them to charge me more to essentially use the same connection option from my laptop as from my phone when there's no increase in monthly data allowance.
Perhaps the assumption they make--other than that you must be desperate (I am) and loaded (I ain't) enough to want to use the service in the first place so why not make some extra coin to make up for declining revenues--is that you'll use it more and download larger file formats with your laptop, so you might get closer to that limit. Still, it's pretty stupid.
What's even stupider is how Verizon has handled my attempted order. I filled out an information request via the website e-mail form because I could find no way to add the service, classified as a Business product, to my personal wireless account. Got a response within a day and they said I could reply to that e-mail if I wanted to add the feature. So I did.
A day later I got another e-mail saying I really need to authorize the addition via another e-mail from the web, including information I'd already entered when I started the original e-mail query thread. The messages all have a code on them so one would expect they could track it back to what I had input previously, but whatever.
Then I got another e-mail a day later telling me they weren't sure exactly which version of the BBA service I wanted: one with a card or the tethered phone option. So I responded with the additional information I thought they already had.
A few days went by and I had received no confirmation of my order or, in fact, any indication of a problem or activation of the service. So I wrote back asking about that. A day later, another e-mail saying they really need to make sure they have my consent before adding the service, so could I go to their website...
I replied with a fairly nasty letter indicating that I had authorized the damned service multiple times with my account information and would they be so kind as to turn it on now, and signed it "an increasingly irate customer." In a fit of pique right after that I decided to download PDAnet and in 5 minutes was up and running.
If they finally add the feature to my plan, I'm pretty sure I'm going to cancel it right away. If they don't, I'll be even happier because then I won't have to deal with their crappy customer service again. Truly, it's abominable, and drove away a loyal customer who was willing to hand them excessive amounts of money. They clearly work hard to not take my cash, so I'm glad to give it to a software company who made it incredibly easy to get online.