TetherBerry v1.0.7 Review

Reviewed by: David Coppola, March 2009
Published by: TetherBerry
Requires: Works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7, XP 64-bit, Vista 64-bit, and Windows 7 64-bit; a RIM BlackBerry series handheld with OS v4.5 or higher; USB sync cable, PC, laptop or netbook; BlackBerry Desktop Manager v4.7 or higher
MSRP: US$59.99, US$9.99 (license transfer fee for new BlackBerry device, i.e., PIN change)

TetherBerry is a small utility for BlackBerry smartphones. The utility is designed to connect your portable PC (laptop, notebook, subnotebook, netbook) to the Internet via your BlackBerry's wireless data connection, allowing you to surf the Web, check e-mail, instant message, etc., obviously without any need for an Ethernet connection or the presence of a wireless hotspot. The TetherBerry utility basically converts your Blackberry into a mini modem that uses the cellular network as your connection. It uses your phone's data connection and does not eat up any of your existing voice minutes. After a rigorous public beta test and release of V1.0.7 of their software, TetherBerry was launched in March 2009 with great fanfare. We tested TetherBerry on two BlackBerrys: a CDMA Curve 8330 and a CDMA World Edition 8830.


Setup went flawlessly on the Curve 8330 running OS v4.5.0.131. We tested TetherBerry using a BIS connection only. Our test laptops were a Dell Vostro 1400 running Windows XP Pro with SP3 and the latest Blackberry Desktop Manager v4.7. We also tethered the Curve to an Acer Aspire Netbook running Windows XP Home with SP3 and while the software was in the beta stage we were testing it on a Dell Vista Business Laptop with SP1.

TetherBerry has taken the task of connecting your Blackberry and laptop to a whole new level of simplicity. TetherBerry consists of two pieces of software: a) a small utility that installs on your BlackBerry device via over-the-air (OTA) link using the BlackBerry Browser, and b) a PC/laptop software component that you download after purchasing the product at the TetherBerry site.

Today most cell carriers want to charge you a fee for tethering a PC to your BlackBerry. In most cases you have to install some sort of utility software from your wireless provider on your PC. The utility is used to track your tethered usage. Cost varies widely from carrier to carrier, and some offer package pricing and flat fees ranging between $15-$30 extra per month on top of all your other voice & data subscriptions. Some carriers will add a per-megabyte tethered usage charge of as much as $9/MB (and more in many cases). So if you tether, for example, 1MB a day for 30 days (checking email and web browsing while on the road) you'll find a whopping $270 tethered usage charge on your cell phone bill in addition to your monthly voice and data subscriptions. Justifications for such outrageous tethered usage rates charged by the competing carriers remain opaque and difficult to understand. We've asked, repeatedly, for some sort of rational explanation for such exorbitant fees but never received a coherent answer. The carriers are free to charge whatever they want, so they do.

The TetherBerry developers win hands down because they have basically been able to figure out how to tether your BlackBerry and laptop to use the data portion of your subscription and avoid those extra tethered usage charges. Be aware that those who have capped data plans must still keep track of the amount of data used during connected sessions. The TetherBerry desktop application does this for you per session. Break through the limit and you'll pay heavy rates no matter how you're tethered. For anyone who regularly need online access while traveling (with or without a BlackBerry or TetherBerry), one of the many so-called unlimited data plans is strongly recommend. Even unlimited data plans have monthly caps in many cases, so try to avoid streaming video from YouTube and TV shows from Hulu or you'll find out very quickly that your unlimited data plan actually has some very real limits.

TetherBerry is great for those who travel and can’t find a free hotspot, but who still need to connect. With TetherBerry, as long as your BlackBerry can find cellular coverage, you've got your data connection too. Your connection speeds will be determined by how strong your cell signal is and the type of coverage you are in, e.g., 3G, Edge, 1X, 1XEV. Overall we had download speeds that were more than adequate to check e-mail or surf the web.

We have also heard that there are some compatibility issues with some Blackberry models and RIM operating system versions out in the wild. All we can say is that this software product is already quite solid and can only get better. With time, and as it matures and gets updated, all the kinks should be ironed out. Our usage during the review period has been trouble free.

Cons: No fee trial as of yet, but a 14 day trial version would give people a solid look at the software. No Mac support yet although TetherBerry is working on it.

Pros: Ease of use and quick setup. Decent connection speeds, primarily limited only by your carrier's network speed. Great first release of this software. As TetherBerry matures additional features will be added (so say the developers). Excellent technical support and busy user support forums provide lots of help and advice. Thirty day money back policy if you're not satisfied. If you need mobile access on your laptop and you can’t find a free hotspot or wired connection, TetherBerry may turn out to be the godsend among all your BlackBerry utilities. Highly recommended.

(Ed. Note: Some wireless carriers will care about your use of TetherBerry, some won't. Some wireless data service plans actually specify that third-party data service access software is strictly prohibited. We're not particularly concerned, but we're still obligated to advise that you check with your wireless carrier before installing and using TetherBerry).

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