Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just turned my wifi iPad to a 3G

I recently am one of the brave souls to purchase a first-gen Apple product. Yes I'm talking about the (in)famous iPad. I'm not going to review it, because what could I write that hasn't already been droned on endlessly about elsewhere.

I will however give a cliff notes version of my opinion of it: Overall, it is an amazing device. The iPad is basically something I wished for as a kid watching sci-fi movies. At work I use it as my primary note-taking device using Evernote (the onscreen keyboard is quite adequate). I also use it as a control panel at work. I run the IT department at the Alley Theatre, and taking advantage of an RDP and VNC app I am able to access all our servers and all our client machines.

I will say there are a few issues I have with it. First, I don't understand why this device needs to be tethered to anything. Out of the box, the first screen you see is "Connect to iTunes". You can't even use it without connecting it. I own a Nexus One phone which runs the Android operating system. With Android, you never need to connect it to a computer. It helps if you would like to sync it or put big files like movies onto it, but the point is you don't HAVE to.

The other main issue with it is the problems it has with wifi. As with any first gen Apple product they are still working out the kinks. This time it happens that the wifi receiver has very weak reception, drops connections, and sometimes won't auto-connect. Apple has already addressed these issues with a few quick fixes, but the real issue won't be solved until a firmware update is released.

That brings me to the subject of this posting. Because I have the wifi-only version of the iPad (the 3G won't come out until later) and it has been having some, but not all, of the previously mentioned wifi issues. I decided to find a work around.

I discovered a great app on the Android Market titled Barnacle WiFi Tether which essentially makes your phone become a wifi router. The only problem was that you needed to root your phone. Rooting your phone gives you complete access to everything and allows access to previously restricted functions of the phone. Using some great instructions I rooted the phone and installed this miracle app.

So now I have a wifi router in my pocket using my T-Mobile 3G connection that my iPad connects to. The speeds aren't great, but they are tolerable. And now anytime I'm in a spot that has weak or no wifi, I just connect using my phone. The best part: I don't have to pay anything to AT&T to have a 3G connection.

I love technology.

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