I recently moved house, and in the process lost my broadband connection for longer than anticipated. Having looked into the various USB Dongle solutions, I decided to opt for a tethered connection form my iPhone. I learned a lot from my week or so working this way – about my productivity, and about how affective tethering is.
The thing I noticed the most was how much more productive I was. We all know how easy it is to get distracted by email, RSS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and web surfing. And many of us know we should practice better time management. Well, next time you laugh at friend who tells you that where they work they don’t have internet access, I’ll have to admit, I completely understand why management make such decisions (unless your a web developer of course!).
Here’s my 2 tips to remaining productive:
- I really recommend only checking you mail periodically – it’s so easy to get into a conversation over email these days. I’d rather just fire-and-forget.
- Treat Twitter, Blogs etc. as a break from work, or something to read over breakfast/lunch/midnight feast depending on your working habits. I now read twitter feeds like RSS feeds – scanning for something interesting to pick up on.
My experience was pretty good. I must admit, I’ve not used USB Dongles in anger, and form what I’ve seen, results vary widely. I’ve moved to Didsbury which has a strong 3G signal, and tethered over USB. My iPhone is the 3G, not 3GS. Here’s my experiences:
Connection is really good. I even managed to watch an episode of Dragon’s Den on my Mac with very little buffering. Of course, I couldn’t have done this on the phone itself.
Large File Downloads
Whilst streaming was fine, downloading wasn’t too good. I did try to download the whole episode, but it would have taken hours.
The biggest surprise was the poor quality of graphics. The quality is drastically reduced/pixelated. Hovering over the images reveals a hint that:
Shift+R improves the quality of this image. Shift+A improves the quality of all images on this page.
A quick look on Google reveals that thsi same file is used by Vodafone.
Whilst tethering, the phone does stay rather warm. With regards to battery life, as I was connected via USB, the phone remained fully charged. Interestingly, if the laptop is on battery power it still charges the phone, so the laptop loses juice pretty quickly.
Making ands Receiving calls whilst connected is fine. However, I did accidentally turn off 3G once. Whilst I could still browse OK, if the phone rings, you are disconnected.
There is (or was, as I just downloaded the latest upgrade) a small bug with the address book. Every other letter in the right-hand alpha list became a bullet point. Odd.
Whether you think the £20/month tethering fee is justifiable or not is a different matter. It’s certainly cheaper than buying a USB Dongle if you only plan to use it the odd month or two. Regardless, if you have a good 3G connection I can recommend it – unless you hate low res images!