Wireless connectivity is pretty much the buzzword these days. With college campuses, airports and even coffee shops offering wireless services youâ€™ll be missing out on a lot if your notebook isnâ€™t equipped with the necessary features. So, here are the wireless internet options available to you. All you need to know about is anytime and anywhere Wireless Net Access is available on your Laptop.
Also known as Wi-Fi, this is the quickest approach to take if you want to be able to surf wirelessly. In an Intel notebook, look for a â€˜Centrinoâ€™ sticker. If you own an Apple laptop, check if it has â€˜Airportâ€™. Centrino and Airport are in essence, the same thing – both conform to the 802.11b wireless protocol.
If your laptop doesnâ€™t have wireless LAN, there are many ways to get past this hurdle. First, scout for a good USB-based wireless adapter. Basically, itâ€™s a wireless LAN card that works using the USB slot of your notebook. It looks quite similar to a USB Flash drive and you wonâ€™t need a hardware expert to install it. Just plug it into the USB slot and run the setup CD â€“ youâ€™ll have wireless access ready and working as long as the device isnâ€™t unplugged.
If your notebook has a shortage of USB slots and has a PCMCIA slot, you can opt for a PCMCIA wireless adapter. This should cost about the same as a USB-based adapter. There are a plethora of companies that specialize in such wireless devices. A few notable ones are Buffalo, Netgear and Linksys.
Apple notebooks usually donâ€™t have a PCMCIA slot (also known as PC Card or Card bus). So- youâ€™ll have to stick to the wireless USB approach or pick up an Airport card. The latter is more expensive about $100.
Now that your notebook is â€˜wireless readyâ€™, you need to pick a wireless internet service. Tata Indicom for instance offers Wi-Fi services in select regions. To use the service, buy a scratch card from any Tata Indicom kiosk. Using the username and password provided, logon to the network and surf away.
Many hotels, malls and restaurants feature their own free wireless services. If you want to ascertain in advance whether a place youâ€™re visiting has a wireless hotspot, check out www.wifinder.com. This site lists wireless hotspot across the world.
If you donâ€™t want to rely on hotspots, and want ensured wireless connectivity when traveling, consider picking up a wireless data card from Reliance, Hutch or Tata Indicom. Generally, wherever thereâ€™s roaming, youâ€™ll have internet access. This option will cost about $140 plus monthly usage charges. Hutchâ€™s variant, called EDGE data card has a scheme where you pay Rs 699 a month for 1GB of bandwidth. For those constantly on the move who require reliable 24-hour access, this is one of the better options available. The internet speed ranges from 10-20KBps, ideal for surfing, sending mails, and chatting.
Finally, if youâ€™re only looking for a temporary solution, you could use a GPRS or EDGE mobile phone. Most service providers like Hutch and Airtel offer internet services where you can surf on your laptop using your phone. You connect the phone to the laptop using the phoneâ€™s data cable, and connect to the internet using the phoneâ€™s modem. The exact settings will be given to you by the service provider. With that, youâ€™ll be able to surf wherever you are, as long as your cell phone has network.