I’ve been living for the last week with a Verizon EV-DO card as my primary access mechanism at home. And of course I’ve been plopping myself down in random places and trying it out on the go as well. I have to say I’m not as blown away as I was expecting to be when I first picked the thing up and got online. Given the price as a whole, and the required 2 year contract (2 years!!!! Who the hell came up with that? That’s like 4 lifetimes in technology time) this thing is going back to Verizon once I have my Comcast install done.
First a few things about the service itself. When I installed the wireless card management software it also installed something called Venturi which does compression and puts an annoying little spinning icon down in the system tray under Windows. Now, first off, I’m already kinda seething about having to use Windows to begin with, on top of casting a critical eye towards this given the cost and commitment level. Turns out this Venturi thing isn’t a lossless compression low level driver kinda thing. I noticed that many of the images on web pages just looked like junk, and poking around found that the default settings in the wireless manager actually run my traffic through a proxy. At least one of the things the proxy does is transcode images.
All this talk about the insane bandwidth of these 3G networks and already we’ve resorted to proxies? Why do I bother bitching about them using a proxy? Cause the other night my web pages were taking FOREVER to load, but my ssh session was zipping along no problem. Turn off Venturi and sure enough the web pages are loading quick as well. Probably just as quick as they ever did with Venturi on as a matter of fact. So Venturi has mostly stayed off for me:
- Too much latency.
- It’s annoying having to roll over all the buttons on some website cause Venturi has transcoded the images into unreadable sludge.
- Dealing with the network bandwidth problem is Verizon’s task.
If I were keeping the service I would have to pay them $80 a month for the next two years. If that doesn’t buy a stellar experience all the time I don’t know what would. This network is supposed to deliver audio and video and be my primary conduit to the Internet, and it can’t pull me a few simple images without downsampling them? Dubious at best.
It’s also dropped out on me a bunch of times. Normally not much of an issue when I’m browsing the web. The little notification comes up that the connection has dropped, I click connect again, no problem. However.. say I’m in the middle of a transfer. Say I have some command running in an SSH session that I actually care about. It’s actually happened to me just about once a day so far, and that’s a bit much. Frequently when I’m sitting at my desk working too, not moving the computer around or anything. It just drops out. Which makes me think that my longer term use for this, as a backhaul for my car system, might be problematic.
Finally, Cingular HSDPA is up, and I can move my cell phone over to Cingular and pay the lesser price for their HSDPA. Still expensive, but a savings of $20 a month for two years is significant enough that I can bother caring about that. And then there’s the possibility of getting a direct HSDPA phone also, which I’m very unlikely to do on the Verizon network.
What timing too, the Comcast tech just left my house and I’m finishing up this post across my Wifi network attached to a cable router. And let me tell you, the difference between the EV-DO card and the cable modem is amazing if you’ve just pulled out one and swapped in the other. So I’m off to Verizon to do some returnin’.