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Author Topic: The $30 ultimate tool - a review of the Motorola i425t on Boost Mobile  (Read 1797 times)

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MissingNo

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Mobile Review: Boost Mobile's Motorola i425t
Another pointless gadget review by MissingNo

Specs at a glance:
  • Slimmest iDEN phone ever manufactured
  • Nationwide Boost/NEXTEL push-to-talk
  • Messaging (AOL, YIM)
  • Wireless Web
  • GPS functionality
  • Java functionality

Price, etc
  • $24.99 at Best Buy (Mobile area)
  • $29.99 at Boost Mobile's website
  • Service plans vary

I recently picked up the Motorola i425t on Boost Mobile, and, well, might as well review it and tell why it's an awesome device for the price.

My main review centers around it being a "road-warrior" device, something that does most of what you need on the road - navigation, Internet, and most importantly - calling people.

"Where you at?" - First Impressions
When I went to Best Buy [mobile], I saw that this is currently the lowest priced Boost Mobile cellphone available. That does not at all mean this phone's an utter pile of crap like a Tracfone. Boost has several plans available - as do most carriers with prepaid options - ranging from a $.10/minute plan with no daily fees to a $1/day "Chat" plan that includes unlimited internet, text, and nights/weekends. The downside to the Chat plan is - even on days you do not use your phone, $1 is still deducted.

The cellular data plan for Boost is $0.35/day, charged each day until data service is disabled.
Push to Talk is $1/day as well, only on days used. One word of warning - if someone else beeps your phone or sends you an alert - even when your phone is off - it'll automatically deduct $1.00 from your account.

Boost phones come with an initial $5 of airtime - it may not be much, but even the minimum refill available (at certain stores you can purchase as little as $10 airtime) will continue service for 90 days, therafter a 60-day grace period to re-add airtime and keep your numbers.

Click goes the USB
One issue I noted when first using the phone - the charger didn't seem to slip in all the way into the phone. It wouldn't charge, nor would my computer recognize it from a USB cable.

Ended up pulling out the Contacts list and seeing 3 already there - "CALL BALANCE", "CALL CARE", "CALL RE-BOOST". I selected "CALL CARE" and hit Send. Surprisingly, this was my first call. Quality was great over the NEXTEL network with full bars. Within ~1-2 minutes I was at a care representative to explain my issue. Unfortunately, they didn't have much help for my charging issue, so I went off to find the number for Motorola.

During that, I got a little aggravated and tried to force the USB connector into the socket. It worked. Turns out I wasn't snapping it in far enough. With that fixed, I could try...

Tethering - the true road warrior's utility
"Tethering" is the practice of connecting a phone or other mobile device, via USB or Bluetooth or otherwise, to a computer to use the Internet connection provided by the device.

I installed the Motorola iDEN drivers from MOTODEV's website - the Motorola developer's resource center. From there, a few configuration files were set up on the laptop, and away I went at the blazing speed of... on average, 8 KB/s to 23 KB/s.



GPS and the magical satellites of the sky
This phone also has Assisted-GPS, otherwise known as aGPS. Boost phones are known for their use as GPS tracking devices with several Java applications built for these devices.

A nice option in the GPS settings is "Interface > NMEA Output". NMEA is a sequence that contains current location information. It can be sent to the computer via USB cable on the same modem connection as tethering uses, to be used as a bona-fide GPS device for use in a mapping program, such as Google Earth or Microsoft Streets and Trips.

Now OBVIOUSLY I'm not going to say where I live, so the coordinates have been censored. The "EST ACCURACY 133 FT" is way off - plugging the values obtained into Google Maps gave me a location 10 FEET from where I was sitting when viewing the Satellite Map View.

Besides using it as a GPS for a computer, Boost also has their own GPS navigation suite for use with the phone itself, along with a GPS-aware social networking application, called Loopt. I haven't much experience yet with Loopt or the GPS - I've had a few issues with where I am in my house to get a proper GPS satellite lock.

CHIRP! goes MOTOtalk
A "hack" people make to Boost Mobile phones is to enable a feature called MOTOtalk. As defined by the Help entry on the phone, "You can make and recieve MOTOtalk calls even when network service is not available." Essentially it's enabling the push-to-talk features for free, but with a catch. MOTOtalk switches the entire phone off - so you can't make or receive a phone call, but you can make or receive a MOTOtalk message. The range of MOTOtalk is claimed at around 6 miles between phones.

In essence, MOTOtalk makes it a cheap walkie-talkie. And with it, you don't even need to have active service to use. One thing, though - MOTOtalk isn't enabled by default. There's modifications beyond the scope of this review that have to be done involving changing system settings on the phone with a Motorola internal program called Radio Service Suite. Don't ask me how to do it.

Overall impressions
GPS. Internet. Wireless modem. Push to talk walkie-talkie. A phone. All this and more for $30 is a decent deal. Or well, good enough for me.

Second day with Boost (edit)
Some things I've figured out with the phone:
  • The GPS system REALLY fails. I haven't been able to get a lock except for one time.
  • Pressing the push-to-talk key, in MOTOtalk mode, with the volume at 7, will piss off many people in a school hallway.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 08:08:05 pm by MissingNo »