Airlines have been reluctant to share numbers on just how many passengers are logging on to their expensive in-flight Wi-Fi. Now, some new figures from industry analysts indicate that under 10% of fliers are making use of the internet connections available on many commercial flights. As you might expect, the major factor cited for lack up update is price.
Gogo, the largest in-flight Wi-Fi provider, charges $4.95 for flights 90 minutes or less with the price jumping to $10.95 for flights longer than 90 minutes. There are expected to be 2000 planes in the US equipped with Wi-Fi. The cost is likely to stay the same. Many of the companies running the services are just starting out and need all the revenue they can get.
Still, some don't care about the price. They may see a flight as an excuse to unplug from the interwebs. Have you ever paid for in-flight Wi-Fi? What's a reasonable price for the service?
If you live near a Starbucks (and let's face it, who doesn't?), you have one more bastion of free connectivity to make use of. Starbucks' free Wi-Fi service has started up today as planned. The best part, other than that it's free, is that it only takes two clicks to log on. Just agree to the terms of service, and connect.
Starbucks previously had a paywall scenario where AT&T customers could get free access, but others were limited to 2 hours before they has to pony up some cash. All the corporately owned stores in the US and Canada are going to be doing this, so you might see some franchises with a different set up. If you've tried it already, let us know what sort of speeds you can get while enjoying a tasty beverage.
Unlike its surreptitious malicious-code-on-a-Street-View-car method of collecting Wi-Fi data, Google has an unintrusive way of accomplishing the task using mobile applications. Google's database of Wi-Fi hot spots is most likely to swell every time a user tracks his mobile phone's location using Wi-Fi triangulation or uses geolocation-enabled web services on a laptop.
This method is unlikely to ruffle any feathers as no payload data is collected. According to Steve Lee, a group product manager at Google, all Wi-Fi data is anonymous and users can prevent the "anonymous location data" from being sent to Google.
We've praised the concept of Eye-Fi's wireless SD cards on more than one occasion, and as it turns out, we're not the only ones who values this tech's upshot. Toshiba, in collaboration with Singapore-based Trek 2000 International Ltd., announced the launch of an industry forum whose only purpose is to promote a SD card that integrates Wi-Fi with data storage capabilities, Toshiba said.
"In recent years, as digital cameras have achieved huge rates of market penetration, the need for quick and easy way to share photographs has grown," Toshiba says. "The new card offers an innovative solution that brings new capabilities to the already very popular SDHC format.
"The card is designed to bring Wi-Fi functionality to digital still cameras that have an SDHC slot. Once in a camera, a card can recognize and communicate with the same type of card in another camera (on a one-to-one basis), and users can exchange photographs quickly and easily. It also allows users to upload and download photographs to and from a server without any need for a cable connection or transfers of the memory card."
The card supports IEEE 802.11g/b and stores up to 8GB of data. Applicable formats include JPEG and RAW files, Toshiba says.
The internet has greatly accelerated the pace at which news is broken and consumed. The competition is so fierce that a media outlet, howsoever big, is only as good as the last big news it broke. While there was probably never a better time for consuming news, the competition does have its downsides. For instance, media outlets can leave themselves open to sophomoric bloopers in their unrelenting quest for the next big story.
It is something that the DailyMail, Britain's second biggest newspaper, is now well aware of. Yesterday, its website featured a news story titled “Apple Boss Steve Jobs Reveals iPhone 4 May be Recalled.” The article claimed that the iPhone 4 may be recalled owing to many technical issues associated with it. However, the DailyMail had to recall the article instead, after it became clear that it was inspired by a parody Twitter account (ceoSteveJobs).
“We may have to recall the new iPhone. This, I did not expect,” the fake Steve Jobs tweeted on Saturday. To make it an even bigger embarassement for the DailyMail, the impersonator's bio clearly states that it is “a parody account.”
Battery performance on Wi-Fi enabled devices varies pretty wildly based on our experience, but the folks over at technologyreview.com think they finally know why. According to researchers over at the University of Texas, most Wi-Fi enabled access points don't properly implement the protocol designed to reduce the power drain on mobile devices. This makes performance somewhat inconsistent, but researchers think it's something that can be addressed going forward.
The power saving mode was designed to allow mobile devices to enter a "sleep" mode between packet requests, however most end up staying in a fully powered up state until the completion of the entire transfer. Depending on the size of the file, and the network latency, this can add a considerable amount of additional battery drain. Head researcher Eric Rozner concluded that "an HTC Tilt's total power consumption increases by threefold when using Wi-Fi". 3G data caps are likely to increase consumer dependence on Wi-Fi in the future, so clearly this is a problem that deserves a bit of attention.
We hope this is something the handset makers find a way to address given the relative ease of pushing updates to smartphone platforms, but if the problem is indeed with the access points, I wouldn't count on this unfortunate situation resolving itself anytime soon. Isn't this why we have the Wi-Fi Alliance? I guess they are still licking their wounds after arguing about 802.11n for seven years.
As we mentioned earlier, the Linksys E3000 is actually a rebadged WRT610N. We’re taking a second look at it now because it remains Cisco’s best consumer router; as such, we owe it to our readers to compare it to the best of what the rest of the industry has to offer.
We updated the router with the latest firmware for this review and downloaded fresh drivers for the Linksys AE1000 dual-band USB client adapter, so we were quite surprised to see the router perform more poorly than it did when we tested it several months ago. Cisco Connect remains the easiest tool we’ve ever used to establish a connection to a router, but Cisco’s “fix” for a problem we described in our initial review has rendered the router a whole lot less appealing.
It is becoming very difficult to keep track of Google's growing multinational miseries following the infamous Wi-Fi debacle. Google's legal woes in the States seem to mirror its problems elsewhere, with the company facing eight lawsuits in different U.S. states and the Congress mulling “a hearing, at minimum.”
TrendNet might pigeonhole its TEW-647GA Wireless N Gaming Adapter as a gaming-console peripheral, but we think it’s much more useful than that. The tiny device is capable of linking any hard-wired Ethernet device—be it an Xbox, a PC, or a Blu-ray player—to an 802.11b/g/n wireless network for a street price less than $50.
Granted, Microsoft’s own Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adapter is smaller still (and draws its power from the Xbox 360’s USB port), but that device is nearly twice as expensive and it doesn’t support anything other than the Xbox 360. The TEW-647GA is a lot prettier to look at, too, with its dual antennas stealthily concealed inside its black plastic housing.
Citing a Sprint-Nextel spokesman, The Wall Street Journal reports that laptop users who find themselves frequently roaming will soon have to contend with a strict data cap. Smartphone users will still be able to consume the same amount of bandwidth as before, but those with mobile broadband cards or USB modems are going to see some changes, the spokesman said.
Road warriors lugging around their laptops already face a 5GB monthly cap when within the network and 300MB while roaming, but starting July 11, excessive data roaming could result in suspended accounts until the next billing cycle. That is, unless a customer antes up for a data plan that includes extra charges for off-network data consumption.
Sprint isn't alone in looking to limit data usage. AT&T recently changed its unlimited data plan into a tiered pricing model with defined limits, and T-Mobile also is limiting excessive use on its network. That leaves Verizon as the sole major U.S. carrier without an altered data policy, though company execs said they're open to tiered pricing based on usage, WSJ reports.