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Tether for BlackBerry Review

CrackBerry Idol - Aloha Joe
By Kevin Michaluk on 8 Jul 2010 11:15 pm EDT
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Review of Tether for BlackBerry Smartphones

Tether by definition is:

  1. (noun) a cord that anchors something movable to a reference point, which may be fixed or moving.
  2. (noun) an application that allows you to access the Internet on your computer anywhere there is cellular coverage, through your Smartphone.

Today, I will be reviewing the latter of the two, as I don't think anyone wants to hear how well my new surfboard leash (a.k.a. tether) has been working out for me. For those still in the dark...not to worry, just "hang loose for a minute" and I'll do my best to get you up to speed. Tethering, is the use of a mobile device, such as a BlackBerry, to supply Internet access for another device (i.e. computer), which is otherwise unconnected, using the Smartphone as a modem. This can be done through Bluetooth wireless technology or cables (such as USB). Now that the technicalities are out of the way, let's get to the meat and potatoes, or as we say here in the Islands...Fish and Poi.

Tether for BlackBerry

I'm always on-the-go; brunches, meetings, conferences, etc. As you may have seen from my video, I work from a pretty unique office setting. At times, Internet connectivity has posed a bit of a problem. Due to my on-the-go lifestyle, I need to be able to "connect" from just about anywhere and everywhere. This is where Tether comes in. Whether I'm at the corner café or a remote beach location; as long as my BlackBerry has cellular service, I can count on Tether to keep me connected and "surf'n the web". Connectivity speeds are limited to your specific service provider's network, however, users have experienced download speeds up to 2,400 kbps.

Tether for BlackBerry

True Story

Tether is appropriately titled, as it truly is a lifeline. During the holidays, I flew to Las Vegas for a business meeting, with the expectation of returning home for Thanksgiving. As fate would have it, I was flying on an airline's "buddy pass", which basically means ridiculously cheap airfare "on standby" status. Those who have flown on a ‘'buddy pass" know where this is going...you guessed it, my return flight was overbooked. Needless to say, things were not looking too promising for me.

As I was patiently standing in line at the airline's customer service counter, (which was swarming with an endless sea of people) an idea hit me. I could jump on my laptop and book a flight home on another airline. As fate would have it, the airport's Wi-Fi signal was too weak to make a solid connection. Now here is where it happened...

You could say I had a "CrackBerry moment". As I gaze at my BlackBerry, frustrated, there is was...the ever-present blue "t" icon (and no...it WAS NOT Twitter...but TETHER). I was relieved to see that oh-so familiar Tether connection screen. Within seconds Tether connected my laptop to the Internet, utilizing my BlackBerry's data plan. It took a total of about 5 min...I had "looked and booked" a flight home on an alternate airlines via their website. Though, it cost me 30,000 frequent flyer miles, it was well worth Thanksgiving back in Paradise. This would never have been possible without my lifeline-Tether!

Tether for BlackBerry

Tether is available for purchase via their website or at CrackBerry.com for a one time fee of $49.95. This may seem like a hefty sum (at least I thought so) for a single app, however, if you compare airport and hotel Internet access fees today, you will find that an investment in Tether will pay for itself after just a few visits.

For those bargain hunters: NEWS FLASH... Tether went on sale last week for $24.95! I'll be crossing my fingers, hoping this review finds you in time to take advantage of this 50% off special. Too late???...not to worry, Tether goes on sale at least twice a year. I was fortunate enough to pick up my copy of Tether (back then called TetherBerry) for $19.99. Months later (in March), Tether offered a "Birthday Special" for $29.99, as Tether had officially turned one year old. In April, ShopCrackBerry.com offered Tether as the Deal of the Day for only $24.97 (50% off). For the conscientious consumer, I would wait to snatch Tether up during one of these "specials".

Upon purchasing this app, you will receive (via email) simple-easy-to-follow installation instructions. Set up should take no more than 5-10 min, depending on connectivity speeds. In order to use Tether, users must install the application on both their BlackBerry and their PC or Mac. Both applications are extremely lightweight. Tether only takes up 64KB, so BlackBerry bog down should not be an issue.

This app offers two ways to tether one's BlackBerry to their computer. You can connect via USB cord, or my personal fave...via Bluetooth. While the USB connection can be a bit cumbersome, it also provides you with the advantage of charging your BlackBerry while tethering.

Tether for BlackBerry
Tether for BlackBerry

I highly recommend that you add Tether to your arsenal of apps. It is a powerful business tool, and an amazingly useful and life saving application. I would compare the acquisition of this app to big wave riding..."Go Big Or Go Home!" Definitely a must for the traveling professional, savvy leisure traveler, or anyone who just wants to stay "connected"...from just about ANYWHERE on the planet.

Pros

  • Utilizes your Blackberry's data plan to keep your computer "connected" from just about ANYWHERE on the Planet
  • Blackberry to computer tethering can be done via bluetooth
  • Easy to install, without the need for any advanced network configuration
  • Good download speeds-up to 2,400 kbps 

Cons

  • Priced @ $49.95, this app boasts a hefty price tag (as far as apps are concerned)
  • App allows your BlackBerry to tether with only one computer at a time
  • Use with an unlimited data plan (NOT required, but highly recommended to avoid any data overage charges from service provider)

Now, should you still be a little hesitant about dropping $49.95 for this app... not to worry, you can try-before-you-buy! Tether offers a Free 7 Day Trial, that's right...FREE! After all, if you can't surf EVERY SPOT in the world...at least you can surf FROM ANY SPOT in the world! Drop me a line describing your Tether experience.


Tether gets "Aloha Joe's" 4 out of 5 surfboard rating.

** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **

58 comments

Kevin Michaluk

Kevin (aka Ryan Seacrest): Seriously Joe... I don't care where the community votes you to finish in this competition... win, lose or draw I think I'm going to have to come for a visit! Let's see what the judges had to say on your review.

CrackBerry Idol Judges

Dieter: That island life is practically an unfair advantage, dawg, but it's cool. Your video was well produced but a little light on details of the app. Your review... same deal. It's great that you're explaining the basic concepts of what the app is with an island flavor, but we also need to nitty gritty details like how it performs, what it does to the battery, options, etc. I do think you deserve a shot at the next round!

Georgia: Aloha Joe, you just rocked that video review! You caught me from the start and then it just kept getting better. From the demonstration of how to use the application, the music and then the picture montage, it was a pleasure to watch. Your written review was just as interesting and engaging. I enjoyed the opening definition of tether and then your story of how this application helped you out really brought the review home. You are setting the bar high for everyone else in the competition. Amazing job and I am sure that we will be seeing you in the next round!

Craig: I really like this video and written review. I especially like the the continuation from your audition video, and yes it makes me really wish I could work from an island! The video had style and was well edited. The written review had a personal story which helped sell the features of the product. Great stuff! I hope we see you in the next round.

freddymartinez9

Pro -> Unique Choice
-> Story about booking your flight
Cons -> Not enough details.
-> Video didn't seem like a "video" review if that makes sense.

Definitely the best choice in reviews I've seen during the whole CB idol. All the other ones were very...boring. If I log into CB, I don't need a review on how to check FB or Twitter.

r.deepsea

Not sure if you guys are aware, but various Bell users have been getting bills for upwards of $2000 a month after using tether. You can check their official support forums... they advertise no extra charges with an unlimited on device data plan but this obviously isn't the case. When pushed, all the tether support people said was "we aren't liable - read our terms of service". Worst customer service I have ever seen. Walk away from this useless app unless you like to burn your own cash.

French

While you are correct about Bell users getting hit w insane data charges you are not entirely right about Tether's response nor did you indicate the cause. Tether has in fact acknowledged the issue w the version that has 6 in it. The updated version available on their site fixes the Bell users' issue.

Tether's forum has more information for those concerned and wanting more detail.

I use on Verizon's network however I use it sparingly. I've never incurred extra days charges.

webmeister

Yes. He is entirely correct in his response. They admitted there was a problem with 1.1.0.6 but told people that while the newer version would fix the problem that Tether wasn't liable for the outstanding charges per their terms of service. Nor did they contact any of their subscribers by email or otherwise to indicate that there was a potential problem after first learning about it.

/ES

French

I was on my Blackberry when I originally replied so couldn't give as much detail. The version 1.1.0.6 was using the wrong apn for Bell which resulted in the charges. They fixed it in 1.1.0.7 and it appears Bell users are no longer being impacted. There is an entire thread about it on Tether's forum. http://tether.com/bell-mobility-tether-usage-now-showing-pay-use-6meg

That said, it was an expensive "issue" for some and had it happened to me I would have been ticked, but it is the risk you take when using the program. You are basically "flying under the radar" and avoiding a monthly fee. For most of us Tether works as advertised with no issues. Some of us are more cautious than others...myself I only use it when on vacation and the rare times my home internet goes down. But I see posts from lots of others all the time about how they use it extensively and have never incurred extra data charges.

I do think Tether could have handled it a bit more proactively.

Mystic205

The version of tether is largely irrelevant... at the end of the day, the use of tether is a violation of the terms of service of pretty much all the operators... and neither tether nor crackberry are honest enough to explain to the potential users that this is the case..

hiding the data onto a specific channel in no way shape or form changes the facts that the use of this app, and tethering your BB to your laptop by any means is against your terms of service.

this app needs a warning label, and shame on CB for glossing over this fact.

Kerri Neill

If this keeps up I'm calling all 9 of my cousins (and trust me they're big!) in Waimanalo and asking them to take you out of this competition lol.

All joking aside it was an entertaining video but I agree with Dieter in that I would have liked more facts about the application. Best of luck!

Brandon 8ch

Great Review Joe. The music and the change of atmosphere keeps your attention to the screen instead of watching 30 seconds, going "Hmmm..." and then going to something else on Crackberry. My dad uses Tether all the time. When he and I go to the states it's a great way to not pay the internet rate at hotels =P. I also enjoy this app because whenever we are stuck in traffic I pull out my Dads 9700. Plug it in the computer and play some games. Great Job I hope you win! You've got my vote for a looooong time =D

The_Adventist

You had me wanting to watch and read your review just from your audition tape. Your style is refreshing.

I am definitely looking forward to your next review where you will bring out the full detail of the product whether it be good or bad.

bessemercityburgess

I won a copy of this yet have never had the chance to use it does anyone know if verizon will charge for the use of this or can someone that has used this on verizon network confirm they weren't charged thanks

chuckh0308

I have never been charged, but I only use it as a back-up at home or for occasional use away from home. I think as long as you don't abuse it you'll be fine. The problems happen when you start streaming movies, pron, etc. Just do the basics and you'll be fine. But, if you want to use it as a primary internet connection you may be better off paying VZW the $30/month for the tether plan.

FunkyDog

There's no guaranteed that it works with all carriers.
APN is required and the carrier may not reveal it or block it totally or monitor unauthorised usage.
Does not work at all on my carrier sadly.
Gotten my refund for it when I bought it at half price over Mobihand.

SwsFoe

I feel like I was just told what Tether does not how it performs. I could of done this review without even having the program and just reading the product description. Felt like someone was trying to sell me tether and didn't give me any facts.

Xopher

Very good editing on the video - definitely sets the bar pretty high for other contestants!

The review was pretty good. Partnered with the video, it covers most of the points of Tether. I think the only thing that was missing was giving a word of caution about data usage (and possible carrier charges), as well as the APN requirement. If those two items were covered, I would call this a very thorough and balanced review.

Other than those points (which can be important & deal breakers for some), it was a very well done review.

baykine

Keep up the good work! Just wanted to let you know that this island style website called www.DippedinShoyu.com is supporting you too!

Aloha Joe

Thanks for the support. I see you have Lanai coming on-board...awesome. Hey, if you didn't get to see my 1st CrackBerry vid, it's here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2xUnzdursA

Thanks again for the Island support;)

baykine

You want to exchange pins? Got something to ask ya. Let me know.

baykine

Just sent you a message on your youtube account.

Dragondima

Hey, so anyone can have a "@crackberry.com" email, and have it forwarded to their regular email. After you log-in, you can go in to the My Account section, and a little bit further down the page you'll see a link to "Create/Modify your @CrackBerry.com Email Address." I hope that helps!
-David S

trjnberry

Entertaining write up and fun venue, but I felt like you were bragging more about your lifestyle than you were reviewing a great app. You showed how we use the app to connect our mobile pcs to the internet via our Blackberry, but then you went on a showcase of your lifestyle. How does that convince me that I need this $50 app?

I would have liked your review better had you shown an example using the program to surf the internet. Perhaps, visiting a graphics heavy site, like one for a Hawaiian Boat Tour or Surf Board shop for example, demonsrating viewing speeds and how it performs. You showed us how to set it up, but you didn't show us how it works compared to normal hookups. It would have been helpful to cover in more detail the top complaint about this app, which is the legality of using it in place of your tether plan by your carrier. For example...Will the carrier terminate service because you are circumventing a premium service that does same thing?

I like your dictionary reference and how it tied into your review. I also liked your commentary on the app's likelhihood of being on sale. If you make it to next round, I hope you'll spend less time on bragging about your lifestyle and spend more time on educating the readership on the app or product. Your venue is exciting to see, but please leave it in the background and showcase the app or product for future reviews.

adelineeleanor

I really like how casual he is :)

don_poky

LOL this guy is funny! and why is that SpeedRunner's voice CRACKBERRY at the end?

markpaulk

correct me if I'm wrong, but can't u already do tethering without this pointless app? I'm pretty sure the BB can be used a modem in itself

onelowvoltage

In order for me to use my phone to tether, I have to give Verizon another $30 or $40 a month. Tether is a one time price. It's a great app for me.

markpaulk

mate, if u open up blackberry desktop manager, u can do the same thing this tethering app does for FREE. yes u'll have to pay Verizon in ur case, but why pay for this tethering app that is available by RIM themselves for free?

webmeister

The whole point of the Tether app is it allows you to tether (ie: use your BB as a "modem") without having to pay for an expensive tethering plan from your wireless provider since it hides the tethered use by making it appear as web browsing.

Yes, of course you can tether using Desktop Manager but that's not the point.

/ES

Marc_Paradise

You can tether with DM for free, without paying extra - exactly as this app allows you to do. In other words, this apps enables functionality that isn't disabled or disallowed to begin with.

(Of course it remains a violation of TOS to tether in this way - whether you use this app or you don't)

Chrisy

i really liked this video! Great scenery, music, humor. Your voice has really pleasant tone and timing, which in a video review is important to me. No uhs and fast talk.

i think you gave plenty of details about Tether. It's a simply yet extremely useful application. There's not much more to it than you described. You definitely have my vote! Well done!

chongman

When I first saw the review I was thinking wow, cool, maybe this dude will pass on some info on getting bluetooth hooked up. Nothing! To light on technical information.

webmeister

When you purchase this application, make absolutely sure that you are not incurring any pay-for-use data charges. You should test it in small "doses" first, and verify with your mobile service provider that you are not getting dinged for these charges which can often in the range of $6/Megabyte.

Arguably, this is your responsibility, but as some forum members (myself included) can attest this application does not always fool your service provider into not seeing your tethered use. Tethered use is not often included in unlimited data plans.

/ES

Terrigno

Thats an awesome review. I love the humor thats put into it. I always love to see a little bit of humor. Great review and a great way of displaying how the internet can be accessed almost anywhere. Great Job!

Mystic205

this review is fine, great and dandy, but you well know, and choose to avoid stating, that the use of a program like tether is a violation of terms of service on many carriers.

You as a reviewer have at least a moral obligation to state this clearly...

live420

Its one of my favorite apps it does work even though their are other options to tether this one is the easiest way to use your phone as a modem

tjsc

great review. I was wondering how this app stacks up against rogers rocket stick? I have recently got one and debated the pros and cons of it versus Tether.

buzzed

Aloha Joe is the best!!!

Besides mentioning battery life, Joe covered every detail about Tether the average crackberry reader wants to know (in my opinion): How much space the app takes up on BB - download speed potential - cost of application (he even gave us heads up on when to get the app at reduced prices).
With an entertaining video and a write up that you don't mind reading from start to finish, PLUS the details we want to know about the app on hand what else could you ask for? It was near perfect!

Hockeypuck55

This was awesome. Nice work man.

droidnewbie2011

That was by far an fantastic written and video review! You really desdeserve to go to the next round.

maurilax#CB

Isn't that Train song copyrighted?

Marc_Paradise

The review used a lot of words, but said very little and took a long time to come to the point.

One major item not covered here: how is this $50 app better than the free tethering you can do from Windows with about 1-2 minutes of setup?

---

BBSSH, a free SSH and Telnet client for your Blackberry -- testers needed. http://bbssh.org/

mrtonyp

I liked the review. Life on an island seems tough :)

Question: I have T-Mobile and I can use tethering forfree from the Desktop Manager. I'm not sure I understand what the advantage is with using Tether.

Can I use it to turn my BlackBerry into a WiFi hotspot? I am looking for an application that does something like that.

lobbyintx

I use tether a lot. I'm on sprint and it works perfectly. Its worth every penny.

CreativTech

I don't get it. Why Spend the coin? My MacBook Pro did this right out of the box. I tether via Bluetooth whenever I travel with my laptop. No special software, just set it up as a Bluetooth modem. I have unlimited data through VZW and have never gotten any nasty surprises on my bill.

For Windows, I just go to VZW's website, download a little software utility with some drivers, and go.

Seriously, am I missing something here? My plan is just a standard smartphone plan and it works fine.

aallison05

Awesome app. I've used it all over the world (US, Kuwait, Oman, Romania, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, Colombia) with great success. I've stayed in some hotels where Tether had a faster connection than the hotel wifi. Bluetooth connectivity in the latest version is great. I snagged it on sale as the old school tetherberry, but it is a great value even at 49.95.

One follow up, the point of the app is to avoid tethering fees from your carrier. It tunnels all of your traffic as Blackberry data, so you don't pay an extra per month or per kb charge for carrier tethering.

tmw264

If i were to purchase the app on an unlimited data plan for Verizon, does that start any additional charges/fees that would be added to my bill monthly?

toddcons

Does anyone know if it is possible to use this application with an iPad???

Thanks,

Todd

Aloha Joe

it's on SALE at ShopCrackBerry.com (cut & paste the following) http://bit.ly/aEn7dF

anderl72

I do not recommend Tether in Europe, the data goes via a server in the US (I have an US IP) and that is bloody slow.

My carrier has a fair use policy, I use the DM and IP Modem Feature to connect to the internet.

This is a lot faster (with a local IP) and cheaper as you safe 50 USD.

dgburns

This review is decent, though it reads more like a user review than a pro review. There is far too little detail, no speed testing or battery (on BT) life. I would argue that this revie is more suited to a general smartphone site than an enthusiast site.

The biggest flaw with the review though is that it fails to make it CLEAR that by using this app in its intended manner you are IN FACT violating the terms and conditions of the contract you signed with you carrier. EVERY major USA carrier has a specific prohibition against using a BlackBerry data plan for tethering UNLESS you are paying the carrier's tethering fee. This varies by carrier, I believe VZW and ATT each charge $15/month to add tethering to a BlackBerry unlimited data plan. The author of a review of an app like this (and the site sponsoring the review) IMHO have an obligation to inform readers if use of an app for its intended purpose could put them in violation of their contract, and this review and CrackBerry's editorial oversight of it both fail.

Now...can you the user use this app without getting in trouble? Very possibly yes. Most BlackBerry users don't even come CLOSE to consuming enough data on their device so as to raise a carrier's interest. Stay under that 5GB cap on your "unlimited" data plan and there is little chance your carrier will care. BUT, there is still a risk and YES every carrier CAN tell if they decide to look. Use it sparingly or only as an occasional backup (like the anecdote in the review) and you'll likely fly under the radar. But, CAVEAT EMPTOR!

Mystic205

thank your for the spcific clarification. The fact that the use of tether is a violation of a users terms of service is well documented in the forums here on this site..as well as in clear language on the carriers website.

Unfortunately, Tether, this review and crackberry.com do not benefit nor profit from consumers actually adhering to their contract so i sincerely hope this is a matter of editorial oversight rather than a conflict of interests..

nastyboy2

with t-mobile, tethering is free and easy to setup using blackberry desktop manager and ip modem. are there any advantages of using tether over that?

Marc_Paradise

One major piece of missing information is that this is money that you do not need to spend. You can tether your Blackberry to your Windows XP, Vista or 7 system using nothing more than the standard Desktop manager and windows networking. How they can justify charging $50 -- and how it is that nobody ever seems to mention that the functionality is available for free -- is something I can't quite wrap my head around.

4Pres#CB

I downloaded the trial version of tether, and it completely wiped my Blackberry clean! had to start from scratch and re-find, re-enter, re-build my entire database....you can imagine how frustrating that was, losing ALL info on my Blackberry....what a piece of crap app.....I'm staying away

dangleberrys

can you tether to a ipad?