Netbooks at $99 from AT&T

This piece of news is exciting enough to merit a blog post.

This year, at least one wireless phone company in the United States will probably offer netbooks free with paid data plans, copying similar programs in Japan, according to industry experts.

But this revolution is not just about falling prices. Personal computers — and the companies that make their crucial components — are about to go through their biggest upheaval since the rise of the laptop. By the end of the year, consumers are likely to see laptops the size of thin paperback books that can run all day on a single charge and are equipped with touch screens or slide-out keyboards.

How long before we have the intersection of 3G and Netbooks in India? I see this as a positive trend for Web services and the Internet economy.

My Nokia E61i

I have been eyeing a new phone to replace my existing Nokia 6230 for a while now. I finally caved in and bought a brand new Nokia E61i from the Nokia priority dealer in the Pune city area today.Nokia 6230

My last smart phone was a BlackBerry 7100. The phone was tuned for e-mail like other BlackBerry’s. However, the 7100 fit well in my jeans since RIM managed to squeeze in two alphabets for every key. Setting up GMail on the BlackBerry was a breeze and did not require additional tweaks. Using the proprietary BlackBerry network, my desktop Outlook contact book always stayed in sync with my BlackBerry. I could even charge my BlackBerry over USB – a feature that was extremely handy when I traveled overseas.

The BlackBerry 7100 (and later models) are killer e-mail devices because they do the following extremely well.

  • push e-mail
  • new e-mail notification
  • a huge local e-mail cache with search
  • a complete contact book to store names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • keep your e-mail, desktop contact book and calendar in sync without cables
  • the ability to modify your “sent from”
  • auto configure access to GMail and other popular personal e-mail providers

However, without the BlackBerry network, it is next to impossible to provide the functionality listed above. Joining the BlackBerry network in India costs Rs. 2000 a month which is by no means priced for individuals. In comparison, AirTel GPRS costs Rs. 350 a month with no caps on how much data you can transfer. Additionally, we decided to avoid Microsoft Exchange and opt for Google apps for our office e-mail infrastructure. Until and unless you plan to be on the BlackBerry network, a BlackBerry might not be a good fit.

Nokia E61i

There are several phones that compete fairly in the general smart phone category. I had a serious look at Samsung i600 (~Rs. 18,500), Nokia E62 (~Rs. 12,500). The Nokia E61i was the final winner primarily because it is based on the very stable Symbian OS. Also, it is an improvement over the earlier (tried and tested) Nokia E61 and was launched in May 2007. In terms of features and connectivity options the E61i is comparable to other phones in the category.

Nokia E61i - package contents

The Nokia E61i costs a little north of Rs. 18,850 here in India. Additional charges including VAT apply. In my conversation with the dealer, he claimed that Nokia phones have only a 1% retail margin and therefore credit card charges would be over and above the price of the phone (an additional 2%). Unlike the US, additional discounts are not offered by carriers. You usually end up paying the full cost of the phone and having a zero commitment contract.

The phone comes in a box with a battery charger, a single battery, a memory card (microSD) of 256MB, a pop port headset and a CA-53 data cable. The Nokia CA-53 data cable happens to be the most popular data cable as far as duplication by after-market vendors. I have attached a screen shot of the cable to help identify the real thing. Fake Nokia CA-53 cables never work as intended.

I will be looking to get the best out of the phone in the coming weeks and promise to highlight some of the best applications available out there.

Related Links and Credits:

Nokia E61i is just about good for anything

Nokia CA 35

BlackBerry Internet Service is a hit with T-Mobile

Trends are clearly indicating a device with data (connectivity) is just as precious as a device with voice for many different reasons!

T-Mobile customers in the US are trading up from ordinary phones to the BlackBerry pearl. The BlackBerry Internet Service is a primary driver of this trend. It allows users to receive their personal e-mail instantaneously on their handhelds. It is very easy to setup and works well with GMail, Yahoo! and other free e-mail providers.

How repeatable is this trend in India? Yesterday, as I walked with the crowds in Mumbai, I could not help notice the number of folks who were carrying data-enabled handsets, for example – the Nokia 6030, 6230 and so on. I promise more on that later. It looks like there is a sizeable customer segment just waiting for the right spark to flip the demand for mobile data services.

At the Dadar ST bus stand – vendors (street) were selling cheap versions of mobile FM receivers with headsets. This is an oh-so obvious prediction – Mobile Entertainment, Television, Movies will be the next big wave to carry mobile data services into India. Perhaps not e-mail.

Bollywood films are now a click-away.

Regional content to drive rural mobile market.

3G GSM Summit Held in Mumbai with a Focus on Ecosystem around Mobile Value Added Services.

BlackBerry pearl proves consumers want smartphones – Fast Company.

T-Mobile has this to report about it’s BlackBerry Pearl users:

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 T-Mobile customers who upgraded to a BlackBerry Pearl traded up from a regular phone, rather than another converged device.
  • The majority of T-Mobile customers using the BlackBerry Pearl are using it for personal e-mail rather than staying connected to corporate servers.
  • Approximately 80% of all T-Mobile Blackberry Pearl customers to date have signed up for BlackBerry Internet Service only, to take advantage of personal e-mail accounts like gmail, Yahoo! mail, etc. (rather than Blackberry Enterprise Service for corporate e-mail).
  • 96% of T-Mobile Pearl customers send personal e-mail from their device weekly.

More trends on Sukshma.

AirTel GPRS settings for prepaid users – Nokia 6230

Important: To those who found this page while searching for settings for airtel gprs. Make sure you have activated Mobile Office first. As far as I know, Mobile Office or AirTel GPRS is not free for prepaid users. If you were to e-mail me – please note that I cannot help you if your phone is very different from a Nokia 6230, 6030, N-series, 3030 and some of the other standard Nokia gadgets.

Your best bet is probably to visit an AirTel shop like I did. If you must do it yourself – the AirTel GPRS access-point in Pune (and maybe other cities) is airtelgprs.com. Try setting that on your phone. There is no username and password needed, but you need to have activated Mobile Office as shown in AirTel pre-paid GPRS Activation and Usage.

More gprs related articles on Sukshma.net.

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Finally received GPRS settings for my phone. All I did was stop by my local AirTel prepaid shop, they fixed up my Nokia 6230 for GPRS usage.

While speaking to the salesmen at the shop, I requested for the settings to be (at least) written down so that I might share them here. Unfortunately, the gentleman who was aware of how the Nokia 6230 should be set up refused to write the instructions down (odd?). He setup the phone and handed it over.

After a quick glance at my phone settings, I could figure out he had made the following changes: Go into Settings >> Connectivity >> GPRS >> GPRS modem settings. Alias for access point was “Airtel live!” and GPRS access point was “airtelfun.com” (Update: Turns out, these settings are really rubbish – the settings in the next paragraph are the ones that work).

Step out of Settings, go back into Web >> Settings >> Connection Settings. Create a new Connection set by selecting an (empty) slot. Edit the new connection settings, call it “Mobile office“, set your home page, disable all proxies, select “GPRS” as the data bearer. Select Bearer settings, set the GPRS access point to “airtelgprs.com“, authentication type “normal“, login type “automatic“. Leave the username and password as empty.

Let me know if this works for you. Remember to activate GPRS. by sending over SMS “GPRSACT” to 511. Also remember that they are charging Re 12/- per day.

Web and GPRS network-enabled applications started to work fine immediately after.