HotSpot in your Pocket

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February 26, 2010

by Chris Guld,

Just because you buy a computer with built-in ‘Wi-Fi’ doesn’t mean you can connect to the Internet from anywhere.  You need to have a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect TO.  Usually that means being in a Starbucks with a Wi-Fi hotspot, or a Hotel, or an RV park.  Your computer connects to their Wi-Fi hotspot.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could carry your own Wi-Fi hotspot around with you?!

I’m not talking about plugging something into your computer.  I’m talking about having a Wi-Fi hotspot in your pocket.  You computer can connect to it, just like you connect to Starbucks or the RV park.

The Mi-Fi


There is only one button on this little device.  It’s either on or off.  Stick it in your pocket and your computer can connect to your own private Wi-Fi hotspot whereever you are.  And 4 other people with Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect as well.

This device has been around for almost a year now.  My favorite review is a video by David  Pogue.  Verizon now has a complete tutorial video on it.  We don’t have one of these so I can’t give you a firsthand review.  If you have one, leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Many geeks don’t like them because they can’t accept an external antenna and they’re not a true router that they can configure themselves.  The convenience of this single-button-hotspot-in-your-pocket seem to override a lot of drawbacks to me.

Mi-Fi is also available on the Sprint Network

Walking Hotspot

About a year ago, someone wanted to show me how her cellphone, in her pocket, was a Wi-Fi hotspot.  I corrected her, saying that she had her terminology mixed up.  A cellphone can provide an Internet connection, but Wi-Fi is a different technology.  Luckily, I see enough new technology every day, that I know not to stick to my guns too forcefully.  “Show me” I said.  I brought my laptop over and proceeded – like the scientifically proven flightless bumblebee –  to fly!  I opened my wireless network list and, indeed, I could see her cellphone listed as a connection!  I connected with the password she gave me and voila!  I was browsing.

How did she do it?  With software from  It only works on cellphones that use the Windows Mobile software – so that leaves a lot of us out of luck.  Verizon is out.

After that experience, I immediately updated our ‘Internet on the Road’ seminar handout.

Palm Pre Plus

The latest new Smart Phone (or ‘App Phone’ per David Pogue) from Verizon is now a Hotspot right out of the box.  Well, almost – you do need to download the app for 3G Mobile Hotspot.  I went straight to Verizon to get one, but …. Jim is so enjoying his Motorola Droid – that I decided to wait a bit.  Maybe something similar will be available for the Droid.  Upcoming article: Internet by Droid 🙂

Beam me Up Scotty!

Chris Guld,
Computer Education for Travelers

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