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By Mark Gibbs on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 11:00pm.
Following last week's column on tethering (connecting a PC to the Internet via a cell phone data connection) long-time reader Morris Tabush wrote to report: "I got home last night with a bunch of work to do and my wife was out for the night so it was the perfect opportunity. Lo and behold, the cable modem was dead. After hanging up with tech support I thought to tether my Verizon BlackBerry to my Macbook. Only problem is, I'd need to find a Web site on how to do that, and alas, the Internet was down. Catch-22. I ended up just relaxing instead (which I needed) and 2 hours later my Internet was back up."
The takeaway here is figure out how to tether your PC before you actually need to or prepare to chillax.
Anyway, after I wrote that column I received a new cell phone to play with, er, review … a Verizon HTC Droid Incredible. Before I go any further let me give you the proverbial bottom line: The incredible is, indeed, incredible.
This is, without doubt, the best cell phone I have ever got my sweaty hands on. The display is outstanding, the battery life is very good, the ergonomics are great, the user interface is terrific, a gazillion applications are available from the Android Market, and the performance is excellent (and Android multitasks and has done so for years. Suck on that, Apple).
New in this Android is the heady combination of a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of RAM, an optical trackball, an upgraded camera (8 megapixels with an LED flash – the camera works OK but won't win any awards), and multi-touch support, including a pinch to zoom feature for images.
To understand all that the Incredible can do, check out the formidable 206-page manual … this is a very feature rich and therefore very complicated cell phone; you have to wonder how many people who buy this device will ever learn to do much more than the basics.
While I'm digressing somewhat might I also point out the excellent Flash-based Web presentation Verizon offers for the HTC Droid Incredible has, sadly, one major flaw: The site uses sound that you can't turn off! While I can tolerate the initial techie sounds they play with the spiffy graphics, the site then loops a low, rumbling, sci-fi sound that you can't switch off! This is about as user friendly as a cornered rat.
But getting back to the phone … in the "Wireless & Networks" section of the "Settings" menu is an option to turn on "Mobile Broadband Connect", which is another way to say that tethering is built into the system.
The instructions for the Mobile Broadband Connect feature are on page 78 of the user manual. It tells you that after you've connected your PC to the Incredible via a USB cable you'll need to download the software for the PC to become tethered and the manual gives a URL on the HTC Web site to download it from.
Unfortunately, the page you land on claims it is for the HTC Tattoo, HTC Hero, and HTC Magic phones and tells you this a total of four times but not once does it mention the Droid Incredible. Also, when it says "Click Download below to download HTC Sync.exe to your PC" it lies; there is no download button or link. In other words, some brainless corporate wonk wrote this support page and HTC apparently doesn't care.
It turns out the sync software is actually shipped on the Incredible's included SD card so you have to make sure that when a USB cable is plugged in, the Droid connects to the PC as a "Disk Drive". You can then copy the installer to the PC and, assuming the gods are smiling and the wind is in the right direction, the HTC Sync application will be ready to go. That is, unless you are me: I've been waiting for the installer to finish for about 10 minutes and the progress bar hasn't even started to move.
Maybe it will finish by next week …
Gibbs is patient in Ventura, Calif. Tell email@example.com if you can wait.