Around-Oz: Living the Dream!


Email and Internet
Inside Your Own RV Using Your Own Laptop
Wireless Alternatives

This page shows you a couple of alternative ways of tapping into wireless hotspots if your computer is not already equipped for mobile Internet. One is under $100.00 and the other under $50.00 making them quite affordable for any RV'er running Windows 98 or XP for the Belkin, or with USB for the Transcend.


Using a Combined USB Pen Drive and Wireless Aerial

This is a really clever idea and whilst not quite as good as the Hawkings it is far cheaper and does two jobs. As well as a wireless aerial you get a 128 MB USB drive thrown in. We saw these at Retravision in January 2005 for $89.00. For those who don't know what a USB drive is - think of it as a very large floppy disk that plugs into a USB slot. Very similar to the memory cards used in cameras, only you can plug into USB and use on any computer. The cover on the end slips off revealing a USB plug. Best not to bother trying to research this one on the manufacturers site, as it is absolutely hopeless! You can buy just the aerial from around $50.00 from Tandy or Dick Smiths. Pictured below right.

 

 
 

Using an Ordinary Belkin Wireless Network Card

This is a very viable option if you don't want to upgrade your computer to Centrino and you can get away with just using Wireless Hotspots. There are some excellent cards on the market, as it is a very competitive sector. They simply slot into your laptops PCMCIA cardbus slot. They use 54g technology and are backwards comparable with 802.11b Wi-Fi technology. The one pictured above left is a Belkin (a brand we really like as we have never had a solitary problem with any of their products - lifetime no quibbles warranty and 24 hour tech support) and it just plugged into a 4 year old IBM down at Casino Village and quickly found the network. The lass was on the Internet in under 3 minutes - impressive stuff. The computer was about 300 metres from the aerial. The specs say up to 1800 feet range. You can get one for as little as $48.84 from Dick Smiths etc. (online purchase only) This type of card of course will work at all the public wireless hotspots popping up like mushrooms all over Eastern Australia along the coast. When at home you can use it to share say an ADSL connection with other family members.


 

 
 

Overview of On The Road Internet

The table below lists the main options. There are several more using "Bluetooth" etc. but technologies a bit too hard for Grey Nomads!! If you just want email and you are technically challenged the Pocketmail despite being dinosaur technology is the best way to go. Occasionally they are on special particularly at Rallies and Caravan Shows. Be aware of the limitations though and they will not work on CDMA phones despite promises over two years ago, that this problem would be addressed.


Email Method
Advantages
Disadvantages
Pocketmail
Monthly fee
Old technology - no attachments
CDMA Mobile
Maximum 23 cents a minute
Needs a laptop
Aircard Wireless
Maximum $6.00 hour - Min $2
Expensive when plan hours exceeded
Internet Cafes
Maximum $6 hour
Usually wont allow you to use laptop
Wireless Hotspots
Most McDonalds and Starbucks
Expensive at $14 hour maximum
Friends Landline
Local call with Bigpond etc.
Not all places has friends!
Wireless Casino Village
Cheapest Hourly Rate in Oz
Needs laptop and aerial
Vodafone Wireless Card
On All the Time - Cheap $49.00
Worst Signal Coverage - GPRS
Blackberry
Receive emails straight to device
No attachments (at present)



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