This week in Mobile News Manor #15: Verizon 4G Mobile Hotspot rocks

This is a peek into a technology writer’s home office, aka Mobile News Manor, discussing gadgets, apps, best practices using same, and ebooks. This week Verizon's 4G Mobile Hotspot landed, twice.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

One of the primary benefits of being a technology writer is the ability to work in my home office, aka Mobile News Manor (MNM). It is a bustling place, with evaluation gadgets constantly arriving and going back to the vendors. As part of my daily work I spend a fair bit of time testing these gadgets for review, and also looking at new apps for various platforms to streamline my work methods.

This column is my look back each week to share pertinent experiences that I believe you might find useful. There is no telling what you might find in this column, but you’ll definitely get a feel for what it is like testing gadgets for a living. Welcome to the Manor.

Verizon 4G hits the Manor, fails and gets replaced

No gadgets were delivered to the Manor this week so I was able to spend a fair amount of time hitting up the Verizon 4G network. I took delivery of the Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot late last week and started having trouble with it that eventually led me to visit the Verizon store for help. The folks there took good care of me and exchanged my defective Samsung unit for a new one, and I've been using it a lot this week to make sure it's OK.

The new unit has performed as expected with no signs of the lockups I was experiencing with the original one. The Verizon 4G network has gotten good coverage everywhere in Houston I've used it, and it is a game-changer when it comes to mobile speed. I've connected as many as three devices to the hotspot at once, and not noticed any slowdowns.

I haven't been able to track my data usage yet, and that's just silly. There is no way to track it beyond the current session using the web interface for the Samsung. Verizon has it configured to only allow tracking usage via the My Verizon web site for each user. Unfortunately, for security Verizon insists on sending a temporary password to get the My Verizon site working, and it sends that by SMS to the device by default. That does no good with Mobile Hotspots like the Samsung that can't do SMS so the only way to get this temporary password to get online to track usage is via snail mail. Yes, Verizon insists on mailing the temporary password which must be used to get online. I am still waiting for this password to arrive at the Manor. I hope I don't get a nasty surprise when I can finally check my data usage. I've been using the 4G network hard to test things out and I hope I'm not brushing up against the 5GB cap I signed up for.

App of the week

The app of the week is a task list manager for the Android platform. I use the online Toodledo task manager for the ability to sync some apps with it. My preferred method of working with Toodledo is with Pocket Informant, as it is a great calendar/task manager. This works great but I started looking around for just a task manager as some folks ask me about dedicated task managers as they find Pocket Informant to be overkill.

Ultimate To-Do List is a good one I found that syncs with Toodledo and provides a lot of features for only $5. This app handles sub-tasks which makes it a pretty decent project manager. It also allows designing lots of custom views for big task lists, making it easy to focus on the task at hand. I really like this program and have no problems recommending it for those looking for a full-featured task manager. There is a 14-day free trial to let you see if it will work for you. I am using the version for tablets on the Galaxy Tab, which uses the big screen better than the regular version by enabling multiple panes.

Ebook of the week

The ebook of the week is The Price of Life by Greg McCarthy. This novel brings medical malpractice and multiple murders together to make a decent tale. It's not the best novel I've read, but it is entertaining.


You've now spent the week in Mobile News Manor with me, I hope you found something of interest. I enjoy writing this column and I hope you enjoy reading it. Until next week be safe.

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