Verizon has introduced 300-500 kbps EvDO service in every city I plan to visit in the US except San Francisco.
They are selling that supports this standard is the AudioVox XV6600 PocketPC Phone. for $550-$590. It does CDMA, EVDO, Bluetooth, USB, SDIO, and has 128MB, but NO CAMERA and no 802.11
The 128Mb storage is enough because the wireless is fast enough to archive on a server. (There is a business providing hosting for this storage!).
CDMA means the voice won’t work in Europe, but may in Israel, South Africa, and China.
EVDO data may also work in China, Israel, and South Africa. But again, not in Europe.
The lack of camera is sort of annoying, but you can get an 1.3 megapixel SDIO camera for $90 from Shop.com.
The phone functions as a bluetooth modem so if your laptop also supports bluetooth, you no longer need to pay for DSL or Cable.
For me that is a savings of ~$100/month if you include home wireless, starbucks/T-Mobile hotspots. OTOH, if you have a device like this then you don’t really want a laptop. You want a separate 160GB USB harddrive for $139 and a device that is simply a 17″ LCD screen for $300 and keyboard and a $100 battery So, if you add it all up, you should be able to get a great laptop for $1100 but no one is selling these yet.
The data plan is $40-$50/momth unlimited.
Note: If you have this device, you no longer need an IPod because you can run ShoutCast over the EvDO.
However, people may want to run their own music. In which case, again, data hosting might be valuable in combination with software to make it easy to play music from playlists — think podcasting. If I get, I would also get a device lke this , to stream audio to my home stero.
Verizon charges $40-$50/month for voice, but it probably doesn’t make sense to commit to a plan because.
Skype for PocketPC is free. Skype calls to and from other skype users are free and calls to the phone system are only $.02 per minute more anywhere in the world! SkypeIn inbound calling will be available some time between the end of winter and July. They have said nothing about how much SkypeIn would cost, but I would bet it will be less than $10 per month because Vonage charges $15 and they both supply a physical device and provide 500 minutes for that price.
You can run Vonage on PocketPC today for $35/month fo unlimited. But that is not sufficiently less to me compared to Verizon’s voice when you factor in verizon’s voice coverage is stellar and its EvDO coverage is still fairly limited.
Note: All of this assumes that the service is reliable and it could be ultra-flakey. When I visited the local verizon store, the device was not able to get online so, as usual, YMMV.