Aug 30, 2010
Tethering. You know, siphoning the internet connection from your phone to your computer. Everybody talks about it, yet nobody seems to know just what the deal is. You might know that certain phones on certain carriers offer this feature—for an add-on price of up to $60. You also may have heard of people getting charged hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in data fees because they “illegally” tethered their phone. One app in the Android market hopes to clear up this fog of uncertainty, and that app is EasyTether Pro.
To try out the virtues of EasyTether Pro and see if the app lives up to its name, I decided to test it out on my latest road trip from New York to Atlanta. After downloading the app on my phone and firing it up, it started a nice setup wizard. First, I was told to choose my PC’s operating system. At the moment, only Windows XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 bit) and Ubuntu/Fedora are supported. (Mac is supposedly “coming soon.”) Then, I was directed to a website to download the installer of EasyTether’s desktop client. After it finished, I mounted my phone’s sd card and launched the installer on my laptop. The software requires installing a driver on your computer. A warning pops up asking if I really want to install it…you bet I do. My virus scanner has no problem so I trudge on.
After installing the desktop client, I hit back on my phone to return from the browser to the EasyTether App. Next, I’m told to turn on USB debugging. Again, some warnings, but whatever, I’m focused on my goal. Then all I have to do is click connect on the EasyTether tray icon and I’m ready to surf.
And that’s it. It really is pretty easy. Of course, USB debugging does make it easier for bad things to happen to your phone, but the risk is minimal. (You can always turn it off when you aren’t using it.)
So how fast is it? My speed test while passing through Clifton, NJ with a solid 3 bars of Verizon 3G was .97 Mb/s download and .49 Mb/s upload. We’re not burnin’ rubber here, but for most surfing it feels quite speedy. I’ve also managed Skype video calls, but that seems to be pushing the limits. A casual youtube test of a 1:44 video had two small hiccups as the the buffer caught up–something that could be easily avoided by a brief pause at the beginning. Again, nothing stellar, but usable on the road for sure.
Sounds too easy right? What about those urban legends of forum-posters tethering themselves out of house and home? Well, I can report that after a month of extensive tethering with EasyTether Pro (among other tethering apps), I racked up over 2gigs of data with no extra charge. On my bill, it shows up under my unlimited mobile data allotment. While using it, I tried not to download too many large files, and definitely didn’t download any torrents (not that I ever do such a thing). But for normal browsing, and occasional Skyping, it really does the trick. One note: while your phone is charging while connected, the power drain is significant. Usually it will stay at a constant place or charge slowly, but I’ve found that if I’m in a particularly low signal area, the charging can’t keep up and I’ll slowly lose juice.
A nice option that the EasyTether desktop client gives you is to connect automatically on device discovery.This means that whenever you plug in your phone, you are connected right away. I like to keep this on when I’m on the road, so I don’t have to go into the tray every time I want to get online.
So that’s EasyTether Pro. It’s easy…enough. And ss long as you can follow the instructions and click yes on sometimes ominous-seeming warnings, you’ll be surfing in no time. There is a free version available that doesn’t let you access secure sites—no shopping, bank accounts, or secure email. But for 9.99, the pro version is really worth it. If you need mac tethering, you’ll have to check out PDA Net, which costs 17.99 for a paid license. That app offers Bluetooth tethering, however for the nearly half the price, EasyTether Pro lives up to its name and clears the hazy fog of the tethering mystery once and for all.
EasyTether Pro Review Rundown
App available on the Google Play Store »