Monday, May 11, 2009

Pocket Mobility - A Hot Spot That Travels

Novatel's MiFi, a 3G Wi-Fi router. A personal cellular Hot Spot that one can share ... that is NOT a USB stick and does not require a change in the network software settings of ones laptop [CLICK image for video]. Image Credit: Novatel

Pocket Mobility - A Hot Spot That Travels

That's right, a hot spot that becomes you. It's the Novatel MiFi 2200 that will be available from Verizon starting in mid-May that allows the person carrying the battery-powered, rechargeable, cellular, Wi-Fi hot spot to easily share the internet access.

The "MiFi" device has its Wi-Fi access password printed on the bottom, so if one wishes share (or sell time on) the uplink, one can can invite someone to join networking simply by showing the password to them (it's printed on each card).

This all sounds pretty cool until one realizes that this device is little more than a form factor change from a standard USB plug-in portal with its associated data upload/download limitations and costs (not to mention - RANGE - it is only about 30 feet).

So, why not get a "MiFi", a sandwich-board, and a busy, independent coffee shop and go into business? Sell access in areas where overcharging is rampant, like posh hotels, and airports. All one would have to do is go to critical time crunch convention centers where access may be limited, or purposely restricted, and open up shop for .... say 10 minutes, then move on?

It's a business model for a new age in these trying economic times ... or not!

This excerpted and edited from the New York Times -

Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed
By DAVID POGUE - Published: May 6, 2009

Someday, we’ll tell our grandchildren how we had to drive around town looking for a coffee shop when we needed to get online, and they’ll laugh their heads off. Every building in America has running water, electricity and ventilation; what’s the holdup on universal wireless Internet?

Getting online isn’t impossible, but today’s options are deeply flawed. Most of them involve sitting rooted in one spot — in the coffee shop or library, for example. (Sadly, the days when cities were blanketed by free Wi-Fi signals leaking from people’s apartments are over; they all require passwords these days.)

If you want to get online while you’re on the move, in fact, you’ve had only one option: buy one of those $60-a-month cellular modems from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T. The speed isn’t exactly cable-modem speed, but it’s close enough. You can get a card-slot version, which has a nasty little antenna protuberance, or a U.S.B.-stick version, which cries out to be snapped off by a passing flight attendant’s beverage cart.

A few laptops have this cellular modem built in, which is less awkward but still drains the battery with gusto.

But imagine if you could get online anywhere you liked — in a taxi, on the beach, in a hotel with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi — without messing around with cellular modems. What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go?

Incredibly, there is such a thing. It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200.
In essence, the MiFi converts that cellular Internet signal into an umbrella of Wi-Fi coverage that up to five people can share. (The speed suffers if all five are doing heavy downloads at once, but that’s a rarity.)
How is this amazing? Let us count the ways.

First, you’re spared the plug-and-unplug ritual of cellular modems. You can leave the MiFi in your pocket, purse or laptop bag; whenever you fire up your laptop, netbook, Wi-Fi camera or game gadget, or wake up your iPhone or iPod Touch, you’re online.

Last week, I was stuck on a runway for two hours. As I merrily worked away online, complete with YouTube videos and file downloads, I became aware that my seatmate was sneaking glances. As I snuck counter-glances at him, I realized that he had no interest in what I was doing, but rather in the signal-strength icon on my laptop — on an airplane where there wasn’t otherwise any Wi-Fi signal. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, completely baffled, “but how are you getting a wireless signal?” He was floored when I pulled the MiFi from my pocket, its power light glowing evilly.

If he’d had a laptop, I would have happily shared my Wi-Fi cloud with him. The network password is printed right there on the bottom of the MiFi itself.
The second huge advantage of the MiFi is that, as with any wireless router, you can share its signal with other people; up to five road warriors can enjoy the same connection. Your youngsters with their iPod Touches in the back of the van could hop online, for example, or you and your colleagues could connect and collaborate on a corporate retreat.
Some footnotes: First, the MiFi goes into sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity, to prolong its battery life.

Yes, it means that a single charge can get you through a full day of on-and-off Internet noodling, even though the battery is supposed to run for only four hours a charge (it’s rated at 40 hours of standby). But once the MiFi is asleep, your Wi-Fi bubble is gone until you tap the power button.
A final note: If your laptop has a traditional cellular modem, you can turn on a Mac OS X or Windows feature called Internet Sharing, which rebroadcasts the signal via Wi-Fi, just like the MiFi.

But the MiFi is infinitely easier to use and start up, doesn’t lock you into carrying around your laptop all the time, has better range and works even when your laptop battery is dead. (The MiFi recharges from a wall outlet; it still works as a hot spot while it’s plugged in.)

It’s always exciting when someone invents a new product category, and this one is a jaw-dropper. All your gadgets can be online at once, wherever you go, without having to plug anything in — no coffee shop required. Heck, it might even be worth showing the grandchildren.
Reference Here>>

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