Around the first of April, Verizon Wireless announced it was dropping the price of Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus phones to $49 and $29 respectively and you could buy one and get one free. (two-year contract required) That’s a good deal for a pair of ‘smart phones’.
But what got me to take action to purchase the phones the was free Mobile Hotspot service offered with the phones. Mobile Hotspot turns the Palm phone into a WiFi router allowing up to 5 WiFi devices access to the internet via the phone’s 3G connection. Mobile HotSpot service is only available on the Pre and Pixi phones and originally cost $40 a month.
As full time RVers for over 10 years, my wife and I have used just about every method possible to get access while we travel… dialing 800 numbers on landlines, tethering our old analog cellphones… using our free nights & weekend minutes, WiFi and DirectWay (now HughesNet) satellite internet.
For the last year we’ve been using a Verizon USB 760 plugged into a CradlePoint MBR 1000. The setup has served us well with only one instance where we couldn’t get a signal.
My two complaints regarding using Verizon’s data service should be no surprise to anyone who knows about cellular data service plans. Complaint 1) Too expensive and 2) a 5GB data usage cap. In other words, we’re paying way too much for way too little.
I know that for many RVers the 5GB cap isn’t an issue but for the two of us and our heavy dependence
on the internet it is, and we found that we got very close to the limit nearly every month. Sometimes, to the point that we would have to curtail our internet usage for a few days. So, I am always on the lookout for a service or method that will allow more than 5GB per month. I even considered getting another USB modem/service plan and paying the additional $60 per month.
As I said it wasn’t so much the Palm Pre Plus… even at the great price… but the Free Mobile Hotspot service that got my attention. Mobile HotSpot service on two phones would double our limit. It seemed like it might be the answer to our problem.
Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch but doing some checking and a little math I figured we would have to pay just about what we were now paying for 5GB.
Here’s how I figured it:
Current setup: $60 per month for our Sprint phone service plus $60 per month for the Verizon data plan equals $120.
Going with Palm Pre phones: Calling plan $60 per month plus the required ‘smart phone’ data plan $30 each ($60) equals $120. We would have 10GB data cap instead of 5GB for the same price.
Keep in mind that we’ve only had the phones a few weeks as I wright this, but I wanted to get it posted while anyone interested would still have time to take advantage of the deal. As I understand it, the promotion will end sometime around the first week of May.
The Mobile HotSpot service:
On the way home from the Verizon store, Fran needed to stop at another store. I waited in the truck and played with my new phone. The first thing I wanted to try was the Mobile Hotspot but couldn’t find the app. The phone was still downloading the system upgrade initiated by the Verizon tech so I decided to wait for that to finish before I panicked. Sure enough, the Mobile Hotspot app came with the new software install. Cool!
Activation of the Mobile Hotspot is done through an App and, once you have gone through the one-time setup, it’s just a matter of tapping the on/off button. You connect your computers, and other devices to the Mobile Hotspot the same way you connect them to any other WiFi access point.
Speed of the Mobile HotSpot is equivalent to our Verizon USB 760 – CradlePoint MBR 1000 setup. We haven’t been on the road with the phones so I cannot say whether the phones will find week signals as well as the USB760 does.
The Palm Pre Plus
For a phone we will be using for the next two years, paying the extra $20 for the Pre plus was a no-brainer. But the shorter overall height and larger screen made the Pre attractive as well. There are many reviews of the Palm Pre Plus already online so I won’t rehash all that here. I will simply say that overall as a phone I’m very satisfied.