Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AT&T Pre-paid SIM Card for LG Eve GW620

I went across the border to Washington state yesterday to buy a AT&T pre-paid SIM card for my unlocked LG GW620 Eve Android phone. I did some research on different carriers and found that AT&T was my best choice for a GSM network with 3G data access for pre-paid accounts. Despite the Verizon advertisements that like you to believe otherwise, coverage was actually better than some other carriers I checked out. (Verizon is not GSM so I didn't consider them at all.)

On eBay, you can buy a AT&T pre-paid SIM card for just under $10. I decided to take my chances and stop at a kiosk at a mall since I was going down to the US to do some shopping anyway. I was pleasantly surprised that the SIM card was free. All they asked for was my first and last name (no ID required) and they scanned my phone for the IMEI number. And that was it. No charge, no fuss. They told me to buy minutes at the Radio Shack in the mall. I bought $100 because that would give me 1 year before it expired.

Once the minutes were added, I had phone access right away. Data access did not come as easily. I found out that I need to add a data package for $5 for 1MB (or $20 for 100MB) before I could access the 3G network. That was simple enough to do, but I still could not download any data. Since the LG GW620 Eve is currently sold only in Canada, the AT&T support could not give me specific help. I found the Mobile Networks settings on the LG GW620 and discovered that it was still trying to connect to a Rogers Access Point. When I called 611 again and asked for the Access Point Name (APN) I was transfered to 2nd level Tech Support, but after 30 minutes, they still couldn't find the info I needed. I'm sure they were trying to run an emulator to find the settings on a similar phone, but of course there way no other AT&T LG phone similar to it.

Lucky for me, I discovered that there was a AT&T store close to the Best Buy I was parked at. I went in, showed them the screen with the info I needed, and gave the clerk my phone. He knew exactly what to look for, punched a few buttons on his keyboard and entered the info into my phone. I had 3G access as soon as he handed the phone back to me! Whoo, hoo!

We travel in the US during the summer quite frequently so the pre-paid AT&T card will be much more economical than paying Rogers' outrageous roaming fees for voice and data.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Unlock LG Eve GW620 Android Phone

After many years of resisting, I recently jumped into the world of cell phone ownership and purchased the new LG Eve GW620. It's the first Android phone from LG and Canada is one of the first countries in the world to receive it. I'm not a big talker, but I wanted the phone for the 3G data access and the ability to run different apps.

I already own a 32GB iPod Touch so the natural transition would have been to get an iPhone 3GS. However, restrictive Apple policies (regarding their products and App store) as well as the high cost of the iPhone ($300 for the 32GB, even with a 3-year contract) turned me off.

The LG Eve GW620 cost $50 with a 3-year contract but I got it basically for free because it came from Costco with a $75 gift card and a car charger as a bonus. Rogers has a current promotion right now selling the Eve for $0.99 with no activation fee and a $50 gift card. A much better value than the iPhone where no bonuses or deals are offered.

The Android market isn't as extensive as the the App Store, but I see the potential with open source and the power of Google. I've been able to find an app to suit all my needs and I like how the phone can run multiple apps at the same time.

It comes installed with Android 1.5 but there are people who have already figured out how to root the LG GW620 and are now working on getting Android 2.0 running on it. They're making good progress and I can't wait to see what they can do. The LG GW620 will be released in the Czech Republic in early 2010 January, and in the Netherlands and the UK in late January which means even more potential for the phone.

So far I'm very pleased with the LG GW620. There was a bit of a learning curve making the transition from iPod Touch user interface. I'm not patient enough to read the owner's manual, but after some quality quiet time playing with the phone I was able to customize it the way I wanted. I really like the way apps can be organized on the phone much better than the vast mess of pages that are on the iPhone. The LG Eve GW620 has a slide-out keyboard with a very solid feel. It also has a 5.0 megapixel camera with a built-in flash and facial recognition. For some reason, though, it still seems to take blurry pictures. I'll have to take some shots under good conditions to see how the camera performs. The screen is smaller than on the iPhone but it's acceptable. I miss the ability to double-tap on the the web browser to zoom in and out of sections of the page.

I bought an unlock code off of eBay for $6 and unlocked the LG GW620 because I'm planning on buying a pre-paid SIM card when I go travelling in the US. The procedure to unlock the phone is really easy:

  1. Find the phone's 15-digit IMEI number by pressing *#06# on the dialer.
  2. Submit the IMEI number to the seller to get the unlock code.
  3. When you get the unlock code, enter 2945#*620# on the dialer.
  4. You are allowed 10 attempts to unlock the phone. Enter the unlock code and when the phone reboots it is unlocked.
To confirm that the phone is unlocked, the next time you enter 2945#*620# on the dialer, the phone will say "Your phone is not personalized."

Nice and simple! My favorite app right now? Foursquare :0)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Subaru Pulls Out Truck

This is what makes a Subaru, a Subaru!

Thanks to Tijmen Fongers for finding this awesome video for me :0)

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