Wi-Fi has long been a matter of convenience and not a necessity, but as we move from laptops to tablets, if you don’t buy the 3G option you’re stuck without a network when you’re on the move. Today, tablets, e-book readers and even media players often require Internet access, but can’t get connected without Wi-Fi.
Fortunately, getting Wi-Fi on the move is not too difficult these days. All you need is a device that can connect to the Internet and you can create your own Wi-Fi hot spot and get online in no time at all.
Creating a Wi-Fi hot spot using your phone can be a little confusing because each device uses a different procedure, so here is a simple round-up of what’s on offer to help you connect, no matter what you are using:
Android can take credit for having started the whole craze of being able to use your handset as a Wi-Fi hot spot and share the Internet connection (GPRS/EDGE or 3G) when it introduced version 2.2 or Froyo in May 2010. Today, if you have a smartphone that can connect to the Internet, you can turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot that your other devices can use to connect to the Internet.
If you have a phone that runs on Android 2.2 or higher, you should be able to create a Wi-Fi hot spot without having to download any application. Go to Settings, choose Wireless and Networks, then head to Tethering and Portable Hot Spot. Tap Portable Wi-Fi hot spot and the phone handles the rest automatically.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is getting this feature soon, but for other Windows Phone 7.5 users, the way to set up Wi-Fi sharing is as simple as it is on Android. Swipe right from the home screen to open the App List, then go to Settings. You will see an option saying Internet Sharing, just turn it to On, and then go to Set Up and enter the name you want the network to have, its password, and so on.
Samsung’s bada Ecosystem isn’t as famous as Android or iOS but the numbers are growing, particularly in Asia. If you’re a bada user, you might not have seen the option to create a hot spot because the setting is named Mobile AP, and doesn’t mention Wi-Fi at all. AP stands for access point, so go to Settings and tap on Connectivity. You need to tap the Mobile AP button and then do so again on the next page that loads, which makes the whole procedure needlessly confusing.
If you have an iPad with a 3G data plan, you’ll be disappointed to know that you can’t share your connection with other devices. For some strange reason though, the iPhone 3GS and later models of the iPhone support creating hot spots that you could share with your Wi-Fi-only iPad.
If you have an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, tap the Settings icon and then select Personal Hot Spot. Change the setting to On and add a password. Another caveat though—users have been reporting some problems with this feature with the latest iOS update.
Symbian handsets such as Nokia’s are not normally able to create a Wi-Fi hot spot, but there is one way—you can download an app called JoikuSpot, which turns your phone into a hot spot whenever you run the app. However, while all the other methods are free to use, JoikuSpot costs Rs 617.99 on www.joiku.com, though you could get it for less on the Ovi store if a deal is on. It doesn’t work with all Symbian devices—only Series 60 and Symbian ^3. Make sure your device is compatible by trying the free version, JoikuSpot Light. It’s very limited, but can be used to make sure you’re not wasting money.
Another alternative is to invest in a device that specializes in creating Wi-Fi hot spots and can be used on the move—portable routers, so to say. A number of them fit the bill, but these are among the better ones:
Olive Nexus VR-9
It may look like an old dial-up modem but the VR-9 is a very good device for those looking for Wi-Fi on the move. It works with any data card, which you can get easily from a mobile phone company. The settings have to be entered online but the company can help you with that part, and the router supports multiple connections with a battery life of 3 hours of connectivity.
In case you’re travelling and visit a place with a LAN cable, you can just plug that into the Nexus and convert the wired connection into a Wi-Fi signal, or do the same with a phone that doesn’t support personal hot spots using a USB cable.
Money matters:Rs 2,990
Micromax MMX 400R
This handy little gizmo from Micromax is perhaps the most pocketable of all the portable Wi-Fi modems we have seen. And it is easy to set up and install—you just have to insert your phone’s SIM card into it and you are ready to go. It has a battery back-up of up to 3 hours and a decent range. We just wish we could have connected a data card to it; pulling out a SIM seems so much of a headache at times.
Money matters:Rs 4,389
Vodafone R201 MiFi
The simplest option is to buy a personal Wi-Fi hot spot from a cellular carrier, so you don’t need to plug in a data card or SIM card. Vodafone’s MiFi is simple to use and can connect up to four devices with a battery that lasts 4 hours.
Money matters:Rs 5,500
Some Wi-Fi hot spot precautions:
• Password-protect it, else just about anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled device will be able to cash in on your bandwidth.
• The more people you share your device’s bandwidth with, the slower individual connectivity will get.
• While thinking of sharing an Internet connection, do keep in mind the speed of the connection itself. While a 3G connection will be able to provide decent connectivity to multiple devices, a GPRS connection is unlikely to provide satisfactory browsing for more than one device.
• Do not forget that Wi-Fi will drain the battery of the device, used for creating the hot spot, a lot faster than in normal usage—so keep an eye on the phone battery.
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