Staying Power-Full and Connected, Part 2
September 26, 2011 | Permalink
While maintaining battery charges in our phones, laptops, tablets and MP3 players is probably the most basic and vital issue as we travel, connectability is a close second. A lot of good it does to have all your charge bars lit with zero Internet bands. Free (or nominal charge) wireless service is available in many places, from hotels to cafes, airports to malls. But the service itself is not always optimal, and there are also those times when you don’t know where the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot is—or even if there is one nearby. That’s when having one of the following Wi-Fi gadgets comes in mighty handy.
Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots
JiWire Wi-Finder app has been out for a couple of years, though until recently it was only available for Apple devices. Now offering an Android version, the most recent update (June 2011) of JiWire is getting four-plus-star reviews from users. The free software works in over a hundred countries and provides constantly updated information on nearly half million Wi-Fi locations. While you’re traveling, you can search and get GPS directions on your phone to the nearest locations. Your searches can also be filtered by specific providers, locales (café, hotel, etc.) and cost. Those of us who like to have everything planned ahead of time can download Wi-Fi hotspot locations through JiWire before we even get on the road.
Bringing Your Own
Novatel’s MiFi devices, offered with carrier-specific coverage by the major phone coverage companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Cellular South), have been the tried and true travel routers since they debuted in 2009, for those who do not yet have mobile phones that can create their own hotspots. Given the extreme battery drain of cellphone hotspot use, though, even many owners of these newer phones choose to have a separate wireless travel router, and Zyxel’s MWR211 Portable Router (under $100) has proven to be a hot item since its release in spring. Not tied to a specific carrier (and the user’s data plan with that carrier), the MWR211 router supports USB mobile broadband adapters as well as Ethernet, and they can be used in wireless or wired mode. Although it is a little thicker than the MiFi, the device can still be easily tucked into a laptop or tablet case.
Getting Stronger Signals
Whether you’re using your own Wi-Fi device or connecting to a public source, finding the strongest signal is important, which is where FarProc’s WiFi Analyzer can help. This Android app gives you real-time signal strength readings, including channel bandwidth ratings to help you pick the best for your own router. You can also gather information on the various signals’ stability and security. The app’s signal meter can even let you know where in your hotel room (or home) you’ll get the best signal.
Staying Connected with the Office Computer
When you’re on the road with a small tablet or laptop, you may find that you need access to certain electronic files that are only on your office computer. Or perhaps you don’t even have a computer with you at all—just your cell phone—but you want to check on something back on the office machine. Virtual network computing software can make all of that pretty easy, and the mobile device leader in this field is RealVNC. The company offers free and paid software to allow remote access between devices, even between different operating systems (e.g., Windows and OSX). With the Viewer app (available for both Android and iPhone), you can be another step closer to single-device, full connectability while on the road!
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Staying Power-Full and Connected, Part 2: