Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Can't update your Pixi to 1.3.1? 1xRTT might be to blame
As we suspected, many new Palm Pixi phones came out of the box with webOS 1.2.9 installed. That’s all well and good, since webOS checks for updates on a regular basis and downloads them in the background while you carry on with your daily business. Problem is, the Update app will only download over EVDO and WiFi, which in a way makes sense. EVDO and WiFi are nice and fast in comparison to the other wireless alternative on Sprint: 1xRTT.
So what is 1xRTT? Essentially, it’s Sprint’s 2.5G network, runs at a blistering 60 kbps to 80 kbps. Yes, kilobits per second, a speed that roughly translates to 10 kilobytes per second, in which case downloading the 126 MB webOS 1.3.1 update would take nearly 36 hours, and that’s assuming you managed to maintain peak rate for that whole day and a half. There's a reason that you don't see 1xRTT advertised much: it's really slow.
So it’s understandable that Palm would just not let you even try to deal with updating when you’re in a 1xRTT zone. The phone will just nag you and wait until you’re in a EVDO coverage area, where the download will take a mere 10-20 minutes, depending on your signal strength. Or you could hook up with WiFi and suck the whole thing down however fast your hardline internet connection runs.
But what if you’re like PreCentral forum member wirelesslog and live in an area with no EVDO coverage even nearby? And you have multiple Pixi phones. With no WiFi, there’s no way to pull down a webOS update while in a 1xRTT area, and we certainly don’t blame wirelessog for not wanting to drive five hours to the nearest EVDO market. So what’s he to do?
After a discussion with Palm, it was recommended that he wait for the webOS 1.3.1 Doctor for the Pixi to come out and use that to apply the update (and wipe the phones clean in the process). If you ask us, that’s unacceptable. Palm: web connected is good, but high-speed cellular access is not ubiquitous. It never will be, because to carriers there are some markets that simply aren’t worth the infrastructure investment. Since you cannot guarantee that we’ll have EVDO coverage everywhere we go, and nobody wants to spend days downloading an update, you have to offer a better solution than “Doctor it.” Wiping your phone clean for a system update is not an acceptable solution, in fact the only acceptable solution (apart from magically adding WiFi to sold phones) is to provide a downloadable update package. Get to it.