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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

February 13, 2006 at 6:19 PM

Time out for a tech review

BARCELONA, Spain — One thing with traveling abroad is you never know how well your technology will work. So far, so good. Three out of my four devices have worked in both London and Barcelona.

The first device is my computer. Wireless Internet has been available in both places I’ve stayed and worked perfectly. At a moderately priced hotel in London, it was 10 pounds for 24 hours. At my budget accommodations in Barcelona, it is free.

The second device is a BlackBerry, the 8700c from Cingular Wireless. The device is enabled with EDGE, which is a 2.5G technology and makes loading a Web site the difference between excruciatingly painful and manageable. This device has roamed seamlessly in both London and Barcelona, bouncing around to various service providers, most notably Vodafone and Amena.

The third is the T-Mobile USA phone called the SDA, which is officially launching this week. It too is capable of EDGE speeds and has Wi-Fi capability. It is roaming on the MoviStar network. Without Wi-Fi or EDGE, it can be cumbersome to send large files, but it still works.

The odd thing is that the two devices I bring with me are EDGE-enabled and yet I have traveled to the two countries in Europe that don’t support EDGE.

A map provided in some of the press materials show that EDGE is rolled out worldwide, except for a few large areas, such as Africa. And, if my geography is correct, also the United Kingdom, Germany, and — you guessed it — Spain and Portugal. Oh well …

My fourth device is a Cingular wireless laptop card. It has not worked in London or Barcelona. It does attempt to roam on to another network, but each time, it fails. I don’t know what the cause is, but it almost appears the local networks don’t want me using it. Perhaps they don’t want a foreigner using all their bandwidth? Just a thought.

Because the card is enabled with HSDPA, a higher speed 3G that only Cingular has launched commercially worldwide, it drops back to 2G, or practically dial-up. That makes Wi-Fi a more preferable option anyway.

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