Using your cell phone as a modem to connect your Mac to the Internet can be a complex and frustrating chore, especially if you have to manually enter archaic Hayes modem commands to get everything working correctly. The better - and painless - way to accomplish the task is by using nova mediais launch2net.
Many cell carriers, like the T-Mobile service I use, require you to type old AT modem commands into a command line interface to connect to the Internet through your phone. This after going through a page or two of instructions on setting up your cell phone to work as a modem in the first place. launch2net takes those pages of instructions and replaces them with a simple interface that handles setup and connections for you.
launch2netis interface is simple, but effective.
launch2net supports HSDPA, 3G, UMTS, EDGE, and GPRS connections along with a very comprehensive list of cell phones, USB modems, ExpressCard modems, and PD data cards.
Setup is amazingly simple. After installation and a restart, you simple launch the application and let it do its magic.
I conducted my tests with my PowerBook G4 and RAZR V3 through a Bluetooth connection. launch2net found my RAZR without any problems, let me select my carrier, and then it did the rest. From initial launch to Internet connection: less than two minutes. It wasnit until later that I decided to go and check out the manual.
If for some reason you are required to use non-standard settings for your connection, you can enter that information manually. Some carriers, for example, may require that you use a specific user ID and password.
In addition to a Connect/Disconnect button, the application interface includes information on signal strength, upload and download connection speeds and time online. All useful information when you are trying to gauge how much time you will spend online, or how much money you are spending to download your email.
Monitor your connection speed and strength while online.
If you donit want the connection window on your Desktop, you can go for the launch2net menubar item instead. It offers connect and disconnect options, displays online status, and how long youive been online, too.
launch2netis menu item lets you connect to the Internet, too.
Most cell carriers block using your cell phone for a traditional dial-up Internet service, so if you arenit already paying for the add-on with your plan, expect to add that service and associated cost to your budget. Unfortunately, launch2net canit work around the data limitations that cell carriers place on us.
Also, if you plan on using a Bluetooth phone for your Internet connection, be sure it is paired with your Mac before setting up launch2net. If your Mac and phone arenit already paired, the app wonit see your phone, and wonit be able to complete its setup. Thatis not a problem with launch2net, but instead a planning ahead issue. If you arenit sure how to pair your phone and Mac, the launch2net manual includes a how-to for you.
A demo version is available, so you can test to make sure launch2net really is compatible with your phone and cell service before dropping money on the product. Even though the odds are in your favor that it will work with your setup, I still recommend testing with the demo first - better safe than sorry.
The one part of launch2net that may scare off a few people is the price. It costs ?75 (about US$96.80) - a hefty price for casual users, but a relatively small expense for serious business travelers. That price tag comes with auto connect support for cell carriers world wide, which makes it more palatable if you travel between countries or switch carriers regularly.
The Bottom Line
launch2net is bar none, hands down, the best utility I have found for configuring and using your cell phone as a modem. Ever. If you have to rely on your cell phoneis Internet service and arenit up to writing your own connection scripts, this is absolutely the way to go. Setup is brain-dead simple, and initiating an Internet connection takes a single mouse click.
The cost may be too high for casual users, but time is money, and I found the time savings and reliability to be worth the price of admission.