I've been really wanting an integrated phone / PDA for a long time. I was really close to buying the T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition when it came out last year. But, the device just didn't sit right with me. It only has a 4096 color screen, 32 MB of RAM, and didn't have either Bluetooth or WiFi. Compared to my Toshiba e750 the device was a huge step back. So far back, in fact, that I've owned three Pocket PCs that outperform it.

So I waited. Which is hard for me. How hard? Well let's just say that since the original Palm-Sized PC came out I really haven't missed a beat: I get a new device just about once a year.

Then I saw a picture on the web of the O2 XDA II. O2 is a mobile phone carrier in Europe that is pretty far ahead of the curve. Of course, as the US mobile phone market defines the bottom of the curve O2 didn't have to do that much to get ahead. The XDA II is the successor to the XDA, which is O2's name for the Pocket PC Phone Edition (are you following all of this?) The specifications for the device are quite good:

  • 128MB RAM, 400MHz CPU
  • Tri Band GSM with GPRS support for always on connections
  • Integrated Bluetooth with headset support
  • SDIO port
  • 640x480 digital camera
  • 65,000 color screen

This is definitely not a step back.

So I bought it. And then I bought a nice tiny Bluetooth headset. And then I left the store while my credit and dignity were mostly intact.

I popped my Cingular SIM chip in the back and charged everything up, and I haven't looked back since. When I got back to the States I had a bit of fiddling ahead of me: both chargers are 220V with a Singapore plug. Also, now that I was back at home I had to get the GPRS data stuff working.

The charger issue turned out to be pretty easy. My Toshiba uses the same voltage and plug, so I just used a spare charger for it. And, the Bluetooth headset I bought happens to use the same charger as my old Ericsson phone, so I was in business there too. All that was left was the GPRS data.

Ahhh, Cingular. I have had the misfortune of trying to get GPRS to work in the past. In the end, I canceled the GPRS support on my contract because they just couldn't get it to work with my Ericsson T39m. No one in any of the Cingular stores has a clue how to configure any of their settings, and Cingular won't blast the settings down via SMS like some other providers do. I was really looking forward to getting GPRS to work with the XDA.

After an unfathomable amount of web surfing I got it to work. Here, roughly, are the steps I used just in case someone else out there wants to spare their own personal suffering:

Cingular Account Settings

Order Wireless Internet Express from Cingular. Online you can order the 1MB/month option, but no more. That's a good starting point, but you're going to chew through a meg very quickly so call them and ask for more. Try to deal: their unlimited plan is over twice as expensive as T-Mobile. I opted for the online because it was about 11:00 PM when I started this project. After about half an hour GPRS was working on my account.

Creating a Data Connection

Your next order of business is to create a data connection.

  1. Tap Start->Settings->Connections and under My ISP tap Add a new modem connection.
  2. Name it and choose a modem type of Cellular Line (GPRS)
  3. Set the access point name to isp.cingular
  4. Set the user name to WIXDC001@W5.MYCINGULAR.COM (case sensitive)
  5. Set the password to ZXY203DC9K0402 (case sensitive)
  6. Tap Finish to create the connection.

Next, ensure that your GPRS settings are correct.

  1. Under Connections ensure that the CSD Line Type is set to 9600 bps(v.32).
  2. Ensure that the connection element set to non-transparent.
  3. Under GPRS Setting ensure that authentication is set to PAP and the class is 8.

These were the defaults on my device, but they can be configured by service providers so I don't know if O2 fiddled with them.

Whew! That was easy. At this point you should be able to successfully ActiveSync through the GPRS connection. Next, on to WAP.

Creating a WAP Connection

Ok, I copied this from a blog post on how to do it for AT&T, and I changed the settings for Cingular. I have really no idea why you need to do this. I guess that internet explorer will try the "Work" connection if it cannot resolve a name through the standard internet connection. Ok, here it goes:

  1. Tap Start->Settings->Connections and under My Work Network tap Add a new modem connection.
  2. Name it and choose a modem type of Cellular Line (GPRS)
  3. Set the access point name to wap.cingular
  4. Set the user name to WAP@CINGULAR.COM (case sensitive)
  5. Set the password to CINGULAR1 (case sensitive)
  6. Tap Finish to create the connection.
  7. Next, tap Set up my proxy server
  8. Check both "This network connects to the internet" and "This network uses a proxy server". Don't provide a proxy server. Click Advanced.
  9. Under WAP and Secure WAP set the following IP address: 66.209.11.61

Finally, in Internet Explorer navigate to http://device.home. This takes you to the WAP portal of Cingular's My Wireless Window. You can get a free account there and setup the portal to your liking. It's low budget, but also low bandwidth.

Yikes, that's all there is. No wonder cell providers pre-configure these things for their own network. Once I got it working it was damn cool, though.

Using Cingular's MEdia Works

Cingluar has recently introduced a new internet access program called MEdia Works. It's a pretty good deal, and makes Cingular's GPRS / data offering more competitive with TMobile, who offers unlimited GPRS data for $19.99. Cingular's plan costs the same $20 a month and gives you unlimited GPRS data, 1500 text messages and 200 multimedia messages. Not a bad deal.

The setup on a PDA for this is a bit different:

  1. Tap Start->Settings->Connections and under My ISP tap Add a new modem connection.
  2. Name it and choose a modem type of Cellular Line (GPRS)
  3. Set the access point name to wap.cingular
  4. Set the user name to WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM (case sensitive)
  5. Set the password to CINGULAR1 (case sensitive)
  6. Tap Finish to create the connection.

Note that I heard from a Cingular representative that they do not approve MEdia Works for PDA or Blackberry use. For that, they want you to use the more expensive Wireless Internet Express. That's a bit of a shame, since TMobile has been offering essentially this exact program for over a year. I could imagine that PDAs use more bandwidth, but I think the real truth is simpler: if you're going to spend $600.00+ on a PDA phone, you're probably willing to spend more on your wireless contract too. If that's the case, then shame on you Cingular. This market segment is quickly growing. The more you fight it, the more customers you may lose.

Anyway, enough of a soapbox. I just wanted to voice a warning that Cingular may not let you use MEdia Works for a PDA or Blackberry. That may all be hearsay as I found this link on Cingular's support forums that indicates the MEdia Works settings I have above are the ones that are recommended for PDA phones. Go figure.

Configuring MMS

These are the settings I have found for MMS. I'm not much of a MMS user, but they seem to work for the few messages I tried:

  1. Tap Start->Messaging->Tools->MMS Settings
  2. Tap on the Servers tab
  3. Tap on the server listed to edit its properties (or create a new server if none is listed)
  4. Server name: Cinglular
  5. Gateway: 66.209.11.61
  6. Port: 9201
  7. Server address: http://mmsc.cingular.com
  8. Tap OK

You should now be able to send and receive MMS messages.