Having started at Cardiff University this week I thought I would take the chance of using a couple of articles in order to discuss some essentials for mobile computing on the move. There is the obvious essential ownership of a laptop computer that I have discussed in weeks gone by that will allow you to use the devices that I’m going to cover but asides from that there are a number of other things that I would recommend.

This week I’m going to discuss the perks of having a mobile phone while you’re out and about. Obviously, mobile phones make and receive calls, which would have to be their most useful feature; however they are also capable of acting like a mobile connection to the Internet which can be accessed via your laptop.

I myself have been using a Nokia 6210 to connect to the Internet to send and receive e-mails to my clients back home. My laptop has an Infra-Red port on it, and basically you stick the phone next to the laptop then the computer detects the mobile and sets it up to be used as an Internet connection – Not a single cable is needed. It is then simply just a case of dialling out to an ISP of your choice and you are free to browse the Internet at the rather restrictive speed of 9.6kbps which compares unfavourably to the standard landline speed of 56.6kbps.

Don’t turn the page just yet as it does get slightly better, mainly due to the fact that unlike the rather pathetic WAP services, when you use a mobile in conjunction with a laptop you are free to browse all the information available on a standard Internet connection or download files such as MP3’s albeit at a slow speed. In addition, the mobile provider Orange allows its users to download at a standard speed of 14.4kbps using a compatible handset such as the Nokia 6210 only or at 28.8kbps if used on their high speed data tariff. Unfortunately Orange are the only provider to offer this kind of higher speed data access through your mobile although this doesn’t seem to be a problem when you also consider that they currently offer 0800 data access for free unlike the other UK networks.

There are also a number of special offers on this handset from retailers such as the Carphone Warehouse in Torquay who are currently offering the phone completely free of change and all you have to do it take out a standard contract for 12 months – Something such as Talk 60 which costs £17.50 and gives you 60 minutes of calls anytime for free or alternatively the high speed data plan which gives you the 28.8kbps access for £10 a month with no free calls except free 0800 numbers.

Future innovations such as 3G promise to revolutionise the way that we connect to the Internet by providing extremely fast data speeds though our mobiles but for now this is best we can get. Browsing the Internet on a mobile does feel slightly painful in comparison to using a standard line although it is perfect for retrieving e-mail, checking banking online and doing limited amounts of web surfing which is all that most people need when on the move.

If you are planning to buy a laptop, ensure that it has an Infra-Red port on it otherwise you will have to buy a lead to physically connect it to the phone. Obviously, other phones are available for connecting to the Internet through a laptop although again you should ensure that you buy one with an Infra-Red port. The Nokia 6210 is the only handset currently for sale that supports high speed data access above 9.6kbps and you should also note that none of the phones available will work on the Internet through pay-as-you-go.

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