XOHM WiMAX In Baltimore: Impressions on the N810 Tablet
The early bird gets the WiMAX. We’re in Baltimore testing out XOHM, the new WiMAX network launched citywide yesterday. We just stepped off the train and booted up our Nokia N810 WiMAX edition and found immediately that “WiMAX Networks are available.” Note: for now testing is being done using the Nokia N810 tablet only, we will have a laptop connect card shortly. When we opened up the connection, we saw XOHM on our display with full signal strength. We quickly connected, and a Web browser automatically launched, asking us to activate the service. The next screen asked for the zip code where we’d be using WiMAX, so we entered in 21201 for Baltimore and clicked Next. Three pricing plans were available: On-the-Go Special: $15/month off of the regular price of $45 per month for the first 6 months Pick 2 – Special Offer: -$50 per month as long as you’re a member -Mobile broadband for a combination of two different device types *Funny, we always thought that WiMAX automatically let multiple devices connect as long as you had an account; it looks like there is a small upsell. Daily On the Go: $10 pay on a day-to-day basis with not commitments. Setting Up an Account: We’re going with the Daily On the Go plan. The next step is an account setup page where you create a username and password. It requires a contact e-mail, birth date, and security question as well. The following page requires your billing address and payment information. The system told us that the zip code we entered for service doesn’t match our billing address. This is a kind warning letting us know that there isn’t service where we live, so we shouldn’t expect to use it there. We hit Next and ignore this message, and were presented with a service agreement. We agreed, but also noticed that there’s a box offering concierge services to find “valuable local info like restaurant reviews, nearby events, traffic conditions, and shopping opportunities.” Sounds cool. The following screen let us review our order and place it. Logging In We tried to navigate to Speedtest.net but were redirected back to the homepage to activate our XOHM service, then we clicked on “login” and entered our credentials. So far this process has really slow load times, upwards of 30 seconds to go from one login page to the next. Now that we’re logged in, we have a homepage that looks like an iGoogle page. One box has Yelp for local search, another has Topix for news, and a third has traffic conditions, and finally there are boxes for event listings and YouTube videos. It’s giving us information about New York City, not Baltimore, likely basing our location off of our billing address, not where we’re standing. There are default tabs for this login page for: Local, Entertainment, News, and Communications, in that order, and you can add new tabs as well. Every time we try to navigate away from this site, we’re sent back to the XOHM navigation page. We tried to fix this by creating a new connection and choosing “WiMAX” and “XOHM” but it said we need to provision our device through the WiMAX portal, which we’ve already done. From the N810 it’s starting to look like you have to use the portal to search the Web (powered by Google). CNN.com loaded in just 4 seconds once the site was recognized, but after selecting the link from our Google search, the N810 locked up on us for about 20 seconds. We tried Speedtest.net again and were able to go directly to the page. The site’s Flash content is taking upwards of a minute to load. We’re doing a speed test with Washington, DC and it won’t deliver our ping speed. Multiple requests to load NYT.com are not going through. The N810 could be flawed; we’re heading out to buy a laptop connect card. Update: Nokia tells us that the Baltimore network is still being tested and that it may be the N810 tablet, but also could be the budding network. Update #2: Nokia says that it’s still finalizing the N810′s complete support for the XHOM network so this could be one of the reasons why the device had some issues earlier today.