Top Tools for Mobile PC Users: Hotspot Hot Stuff: Page 2

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Below is a collection of a few more "tools of the trade" that will make any bedouin's life easier.




Nokia 810 Internet Tablet, $479.99


The Nokia N810 Internet Tablet (below) is a sleek and pocket-sized Wi-Fi device. If you want Internet access on the go, but don't want to lug a big laptop around, Abramson recommends this ultra mobile personal computer. Some of the key features: lightweight, slide-out keyboard, and touch screen. Nokia-N810.jpg


ASUS Eee PC, $399.99


This is another recommended device by Abramson.


"I just bought one and I love it," he said. "It's great. It weighs less than a couple pounds. It runs on LINUX. It's easy to use and easy to work with. You can check e-mail, surf the Web, it has Open Office so you can do everything with the Office Platform." Read our review here.


MacBook Pro, Starting at $1,999


You can always find Swartz armed with a MacBook Pro, which has a built-in camera for quick, quality picture taking and a built-in microphone/speakers that, when combined with Skype, makes a portable phone when cellular isn't available.


"They're super light, relatively thin and something about them just screams 'I know what I'm doing,'" said Swartz.


MacBook Air, Starting at $1,799


The ultra-thin MacBook Air has become the envy of MacBook users. It has a 13.3-inch widescreen LED display, full-size keyboard, and large multi-touch trackpad. Perfect for bedouins who want to lighten their load, but still want a powerful laptop.


iPhone, Starting at $399


For Swartz, this is the easiest way to work when he can't open his laptop.


"The headphones and speaker system work great for having meetings while walking around, or for use as a hands-free set while you're typing or browsing during meetings," he said. "In addition to having great access to Gmail and other online services, it also has a plethora of Cloudware programs that allow you to store all of your information digitally, so your rolodex and a small encyclopedia of client info are always available."


Looking for Wi-Fi


Devicescape, Free download Devicescape.jpg

Silicon Valley-based Devicescape enables secure and seamless access to the world's largest Wi-Fi Network. Devicescape connects your device to potentially millions of hotspots around the world. Once you have downloaded and installed Devicescape, it will automatically find and connect your laptop or Wi-Fi enabled device to any Wi-Fi hotspot around the world.


Wi-Fire, $79.00


Wi-Fire is a great gadget for bedouins who want to reach out to those weak Wi-Fi signals from a local hotspot to access a good Wi-Fi connection. Users benefit from the increased mobility and greater range with faster speeds in comparison to other standard Wi-Fi adapters and it works with any 802.11 b/g access point. Users connect to a Wi-Fi network from up to 1,000 feet—more than three times the range of standard adapters—often at significantly higher speeds, and even in locations where no wireless signal could be detected previously.


The Digital Hotspotter, $59.95

Want to find the nearest accessible Wi-Fi network without booting up? Check out the second-generation Digital Hotspotter device, the HS20, from Canary Wireless. The HS20, a Wi-Fi detection and analysis tool with an LCD display, is lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, and has an improved user interface. The locator device provides network ID, encryption status, and channel data for 802.11 (b, g, and n) networks. It also features many added benefits including a "scroll" feature to toggle between multiple available networks, a backlit display and a larger screen with quick glance icons.  Read our review here.

ZoneFlex, Dependent on number of access points


Frustrated with the slow connection speeds at your favorite coffee shop? You may want to suggest to the owner to spring for Ruckus Wireless' ZoneFlex. Its smart antenna array addresses problems of interference, and makes Wi-Fi networks in hotspots able to serve more people and more bandwidth-intensive applications, and provides extended range.


"It’s designed to do something that Wi-Fi hasn't done before and that's to be more predictable and reliable," explained David Callisch, the company's Vice President of Marketing. "Wi-Fi has historically been an unreliable medium because of its sheer technology that uses radio frequencies which are open, unlicensed, and available to anybody. That's great, but also bad, if you want to do anything meaningful with it, like trying to run a high bandwidth application."


NETGEAR Wi-Fi Phone, $149.00


NETGEAR’s Wi-Fi Phone with Skype lets you make and receive Skype calls wherever you have Wi-Fi access without a PC and with no monthly fees. In addition, the NETGEAR Wi-Fi Phone connects to any open Wi-Fi network, including nearly 8,500 T-Mobile hotspot locations across the country.


Nikon’s COOLPIX S51c, $279.95 S51c_Sl_front_lo.jpg


The COOLPIX S51c is a compact digital camera with Wi-Fi access. Users can e-mail pictures directly from their camera without going near a computer. The camera has 8.1 megapixels, a 3x optical zoom, and a huge 3.0-inch LCD display.


"We're able to connect to any open Wi-Fi hotspot and send photographs directly from the camera to anyone's e-mail address, Flickr, blog, and even have developed our own photo infrastructure called MyPictureTown where the camera can automatically synchronize all your images and can be stored there," said Steve Heiner, Senior Technical Manager at Nikon. "It's a great camera for mobile workers."


The COOLPIX also comes with six months of free T-Mobile.


Zpen, $129.95


Some mobile workers, like writers, often jot notes down on whatever scrap paper, or napkin, happens to be nearby. With a Zpen you can still take notes, but this writing instrument uses advanced digital positioning technology, meaning that you can upload those handwritten notes onto your laptop to view, save, and convert it to digital text. Another nifty feature is that the Zpen can be used as a standard USB drive (1GB capacity). Currently, you can purchase the Zpen online at Samy's Camera Stores.


3M Privacy Filters, Prices range from $40-$150 (depending on size of computer screen)


Most bedouins load their laptops with security applications to prevent malicious users from virtually swiping data. But data can be stolen in other ways too. Users with wandering eyes can peer at your laptop from the table next to you, and steal confidential data. 3M Privacy Filters can help mobile workers have more privacy by making the screen visible only to them. The filters work like vertical blinds to restrict viewing from the side and help shield sensitive information.


Hotspot Services


Boingo, starting at $21.95 per month


With a Boingo account, bedouins can connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot at over 100,000 locations from more than 150 leading Wi-Fi operators. One Boingo account is all you need to connect to its global commercial Wi-Fi network.


iPass, starting at $29.95 per month


iPass unifies mobility management over any Internet connection. iPass not only works with Wi-Fi hotspots, but also international 3G mobile data, Ethernet broadband, satellite, and dial-up.


"Essentially, you would buy our service through one of our partners," explained Rick Bilodeau, iPass' VP of corporate and channel marketing. "You could go to a Starbucks and use our software to connect to its networks or other free networks. You have a single interface with one username and password so you don't have to subscribe to all of these different services. The size of our network is advantageous because we have more hotspots than anyone else."


For Your Ears


Comply Foam Tips, starting at $17.95


These low-tech foam tips attach to existing earphones and the passive noise reduction technology minimizes interruptions from the outside. Along with reducing ambient noises, these foam tips provide comfort, enhanced bass response, and a secure stay-in-ear fit.


Plantronics .Audio 480-USB Virtual Phone Booth Headset, starting at $89.95


These are great when you're in a crowded café or a busy hotel lobby. The Plantronics .Audio 480-USB’s flexible boom lets you bring the microphone close for private conversations. Sound-isolating ear buds block out unwanted noise. Callers benefit too—a noise-canceling microphone minimizes external noise, making it easier for them to understand you.


Plantronics Voyager 855, $149


The Voyager 855 Stereo Bluetooth headset is another great device from Plantronics. Jam to some tunes while you're working or switch over to make that important business call.


Jawbone Bluetooth Headset, $119.99


The Jawbone Bluetooth headset for mobile phones adapts to the noise environment around you. It blocks out background noise in cafés or street noise (if you go outside to take your calls) so you can hear and be heard. It's also a pretty chic and hip-looking gear. Jawbone provides up to six hours of talk time and is available at a number of retail outlets.


Digital and Non-Digital Storage


500GB MiniStation, $329.00


Although laptops today are equipped with more storage space than ever before, it always helps to have extra storage. With Buffalo’s 500GB MiniStation TurboUSB, bedouins can store, backup, and transport digital content at 60 percent faster transfer speeds than standard devices, and have the peace of mind that data is secure with shock resistant technology, protecting your MiniStation from bumps, drops, or shocks.


Mouse Trap, $12.99


Zip up the Mouse Trap and it becomes a pouch for storing small items like a travel mouse, flash drive, USB, and iPod cables. Unzip it to reveal a mouse pad with rubber grips you can use on most surfaces.


APC Power Ready Notebook Sleeve, $29.99


The APC Power Ready Notebook Sleeve is a slim, durable case. With a dedicated battery pocket and storage for additional accessories, users can easily connect charging electronics and work directly from this case.


Grove Convertible Backpack/Messenger, $79.99


Another product by Targus, which bedouins may find useful, is its eco-friendly Grove Convertible Backpack/Messenger, made of PVC-free material, recyclable plastics, and nickel-free metal. You can protect your laptop in the quilted laptop compartment, while tucking away your other belongings in its numerous pockets and compartments.


More Power

APC Universal Notebook Battery 70, $149.99

Does your battery drain after a couple hours use? Another essential tool is an extra battery. If the coffeehouse you frequent is packed one day and it's difficult to find an available outlet, you may need an extra battery. Check out the APC Universal Notebook Battery 70, a slim external battery designed to fit easily under a notebook computer and provide up to six hours of additional runtime.


Travel Power Outlets, $19.99


Don't want to be an outlet hog? Targus’ Travel Power Outlets with Surge Protection has four outlets for you to plug in your laptop, camera, and cell phone when only one outlet may be available. Its compact design is the perfect solution for those hidden outlets in small, hard-to-reach places. It also features surge protection to help keep electronics protected from unexpected surges or spikes.


Chargepod, starting at $49.95 ChargePod.jpg


The Chargepod, a 6-in-1 charging device from Callpod, Inc., allows you to charge multiple cell phones, PDAs, headsets, MP3 players, BlackBerries, and other mobile electronic devices with a single power cord from almost anywhere, including your car. The Chargepod uses voltage regulator technology and interchangeable power adapters to charge all of your mobile devices regardless of manufacturer or model.


Software Applications


Hotspot Shield, Free download


Public Wi-Fi hotspots are often not secure and make your computer and communications vulnerable to hackers and security breaches. Hotspot Shield (HSS) is a free security download to keep Internet connections secure at Wi-Fi/hotspot locations. HSS prevents hackers and other forms of online ID theft by establishing a closed-off connection between wireless routers and laptops connected to open Wi-Fi networks. HSS auto-encrypts and protects inbound / outbound Internet traffic (e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP calls, Web surfing, etc.) as it's transmitted thru the air, thwarting wireless hackers and keeping your personal data locked down.


Gmail, Free Web-based client


This is Swartz's preferred method of sending and receiving e-mail.


"I can get e-mail wherever I'm at, whether it's my own laptop, my cell phone, or some random computer on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean," he said. "Plus, you can store all of the information you need to know in Gmail, such as client contact information, contracts, receipts, addresses of places you need to go, and then that information is available just by searching. Plus, Gmail's conversation view, search capabilities, and labels make it so much better than any other e-mail experience." 


Remember the Milk, Free download


Another application recommended by Swartz.


"This is hands down the best To Do list manager I've ever used, with a great balance of ease of use and features," he said. "Plus, if you run Firefox, you can get it right in Gmail, and they also have an iPhone customized version as well."


PCMobilizr, $9.50 monthly fee (PC; available for Mac next month)


PCMobilizr allows users to remotely and securely access their computers from their mobile phones, display the computer's screen, and control the keyboard and mouse--as if you are right in front of your computer, giving you instant, complete access to every file and application on your laptop or computer. PCMobilizr operates on BlackBerries or any device that runs Windows Mobile, and will be available on the iPhone and Nokia devices soon.


LoJack for Laptops, $49.99/year


LoJack helps track down and locate lost or stolen computers. Software installed on a computer works behind the scenes to silently and securely contact a Monitoring Center, and if stolen, report its location using any Internet connection. Absolute Software’s Recovery Team then tracks the computer’s location and partners with local law enforcement to get it back to its rightful owner.


SpinVox, Pricing depends on carrier


SpinVox is a voice-to-text company whose technology captures voice, converts it to text and sends it via e-mail, SMS, or blog post. It eliminates the need for bedouins to dial-in and listen to voicemail. By clicking a single button, the message recipient can elect to respond either by calling back or by text.

This article was first published on Wi-Fi

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