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Samsung A-920 as a Bluetooth Mac modem
Merlin Mann | Jul 13 2006
Earlier this year, like many of my siblings in the minor web dorkerati, your author was made a “Sprint Ambassador.” This is actually not nearly as fancy as it sounds — you still have to pay parking tickets and can’t necessarily have rude waiters whacked with impunity. Plus you get this really weird (Kansas? Missouri?) area code that makes all your friends think you’re a telemarketer or a Republican pollster.
Anyhow, the deal is that Sprint sends you their multimedia Samsung A-920 to use for free for a few months in exchange for offline comments (and, one speculates, the chance that their little blue unit might make an appearance in, say, a blog post along the lines of the one you're reading).
The phone’s okay, I guess — although why it takes 8 mother-scratching clicks to send a photo to Flickr from this purportedly high-end “multimedia phone” is just really hard for me to understand. Plus, until the other night, I’d never been able to use the EVDO modem functionality that’s one of the phone’s marquee features. The idea of internet access from any place that gets a phone signal made me salivate in the early days of my Ambassador tenure, but, as with so many of these things, I quickly made my peace with the usual excuse; unsupported on Macs. WANH-wahn. Still gotta drive to Starbucks to check my email on vacation. Oh, well.
Turns out I was wrong, and, boy, do I love being wrong about this.
It’s actually pretty easy to use the phone’s Bluetooth connectivity to get wireless internet via EVDO. I learned this a couple nights ago from an unbelievably helpful advanced tech support person from Sprint. She found some arcane tome that explained, yes, it’s unsupported, but, yes, here’s how to do it anyway on a Mac. And she sat there and walked me through the whole friggin’ thing over 15 minutes. Nice. (I checked three times to make sure this was actually someone from Sprint, since said help seemed antithetical to the global brand of assy customer service they’ve been crafting over the years).
I was going to write up a short tutorial on this, but a bit of Googling told me the work was already done when I turned up this lovely how-to from noDRM:
Now, don’t just dash off to Bit Torrent to start downloading “Black Adder” episodes from your room at the Sheraton; this is really slow access. I don’t have enough experience to know whether this is a result of the EVDOness or Bluetoothiness of the connection, but I’m seeing approximately 100 kbps connection speeds. We’re talking 90s nostalgia speeds, here. It’s still plenty fast for grabbing your email and even (patiently) surfing the web. (If anyone has advice on improving this speed, do share, in comments). Also, I get the feeling that I’ll be paying through the nose if I want this service to continue after my Ambassadorhood is revoked some time this month; I’m hearing prices in the $50/month range, which seems, well, completely crazy to me.
I may have more to say about the phone later (like: GPS map locator; don’t need: CNN on my phone; hate: Bluetooth no sync-y with iSync) or I may not. Who knows? In any case, if your own Sprint Ambassadoritude is just beginning, or you’re a garden-variety Mac user who’s bought the A-920, give the tutorial a spin. Could make life on the road a lot easier this summer.
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