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THOUGHT: Abroad but Connected - on the way with the SlingCatcher and MiFi
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 08.09.09 - 16:20:28 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 13765x
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It's somewhat funny (or sad, however you take it). Was all the (mobile and wireless) technology originally designed to make life easier, it made the life somewhat more complicated but - no question - also more convenient. When I was in vacation at Mallorca last week, I put two mobile phones into the bag as well as my camera and some chargers. So far so good and in the pre-mobile phone days, you put a book into the bag instead the mobile phone and nobody thought about chargers because just a battery for needed for the simple Kodak cameras. However, since (for me) vacation never means disconnected, I also put my Netbook into the bag (which thankfully allowed me to leave my way heavier Notebook at home), my Apple Airport Express wireless access point, but also my Novatel MiFi, a Proporta USB Mobile Device Charger and even my Slingmedia SlingCatcher.

Now you might wonder why I've taken the MiFi with me, where my mobile phones aren't just mobile phones but smartphones, especially because the hotel had (free) WiFi and LAN and what I did with a SlingCatcher in vacation?
Well, as I said - vacation never means I'm out of business and while I've tested the SlingCatcher from several locations within Germany, I wanted to give it the final test from abroad as well. Also I knew that the hotel had LCD flatscreen TVs where I was easily able to connect the SlingCatcher to. Last but not least, I wanted to watch some German shows live, while in Spain, as well as I had some previously recorded TV shows and movies on my Media Center and vacation is the best time to watch this stuff, you never have time to watch when at home.
Last but not least, thanks to the programmable SlingCatcher remote control, I was able to watch TV from the bed, without standing-up to turn on/off the TV as well as it allowed me to change the channels or to pause the video playback.

And why the MiFi? Where all my Windows Mobile and Android smartphones can connect to the Internet anyway and the Windows Mobile smartphone can even be used as a wireless modem for the Netbook? Well, because I didn't plan to connect the MiFi to the Netbook at all but surprisingly to the mobile phones instead!

When I was in Barcelona earlier this year, I bought a Yoigo SIM card (Yoigo is a new Spanish mobile network operator) because Yoigo offers quite attractive data day-flats. While my main carrier caps the daily mobile Internet spending at 15 Euro per day (as long as I don't use more than 50 MB), Yoigo offers flat Internet access for 3.50 Euro only. However, I always want to stay reachable (for calls and text messages) and therefore I never replace my home SIM with prepaid SIM when abroad but this time I had the idea that I could link my smartphones via WiFi to the MiFi. This would gave me local Internet access by still being reachable under my German mobile phone number.

To be sure, even if the MiFi provides some good battery runtime, the MiFi wasn't running out of power, I've furthermore connected the it to the Proporta USB Mobile Device Charger which kept the MiFi charged for a full day island visiting and simply left both in the bag.

At the end of the day, the SlingCatcher worked quite well, after I connected it to the Netbook which was connected wireless to the hotel Internet line; until the Slingbox Pro screwed up and required a reset, which I was unable to do remotely from Spain. Nevertheless, until it screwed up, I've watched all shows and movies I wanted to watch and therefore I haven't missed it too much. However, next time I will be better prepared because the Slingbox is now connected to a timer clock which turns it off and on again for a minute - every night!

But also the smartphone MiFi combo worked perfectly. It allowed me using Google Maps to find the right spots on the island, I was able to read and write my E-Mails as well as reading the latest news, posting to Twitter or Facebook as well as sending photos to friends and family instantly and it even allowed me to stream some music on the beach. The saved money I've invested into some good tapas and the one or the other refreshing Sangria.

Even if I carried more technology than in the early days, it made my vacation more comfortable.

Cheers ~ Arne


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