Although most major airlines do have in-flight screens showing a handful of movies, passengers don't have the flexibility to watch what they want on their own devices. Enter American Airline's plans to offer in-flight video streaming your smartphone, tablet or computer via Wi-Fi.
While wandering around midtown Manhattan last Thursday afternoon, I was attempting to keep track of the Yankees opening day game versus the Tigers via the MLB.com At Bat 2011 app on my iPhone. As you can imagine, data reception sucked; several times, the app told me it couldn't access the network. Thanks again, AT&T. I thought for a second about using my iPad by connecting to a local Wi-Fi network. But first I would have had to have identified a public network, then hope Safari could handle the interstitial sign-up pages (which it often can't). Even if I connected successfully, once I wandered out of that particular hotspot coverage area into another I'd have to go through the entire Wi-Fi hotspot location, identification and sign-up rigmarole. Feh. I pocketed my iPhone and just poked my head into the varying bars along my walking route to keep track of the action. Perhaps once the HSPA-Plus "4G" iPhone 5 likely coming later this summer might alleviate some of AT&T's data network problems. In a year, however, local Wi-Fi hotspots could be as easy to connect to as a cell network, thanks to an almost ignored announcement last month concerning a new set of Wi-Fi specifications.
Designer and visual artist Timo Arnall wanted to explore the "invisible terrain of Wi-Fi networks in urban spaces." That's all well and good, but how would you visualize something that's invisible?
Fly often? Play FarmVille at 30,000 feet much? As of today, seven major airlines will offer free Facebook access via their in-flight Wi-Fi, for a limited time.
The United States isn't the world leader in broadband penetration. In fact, we're nowhere close to the top of the list — we typically hover around spot 15 or 20, depending on how you define it. In less than five years, however, the President just said he wanted to spread wireless broadband to cover 98% of the nation.
Wireless routers probably waste 99% of their energy broadcasting their signal where your computers aren't, which is why most routers have crappy range. D-Link is introducing a new wireless repeater that doesn't just boost signals, it targets them directly at your wireless antennae for maximum distance and reliability.
They may make you want to gouge your eyes out with a pointed stick, but flickering office lights are learning how to transmit data like a Wi-Fi network, while saving you money at the same time.
A unanimous vote by the FCC (5 to 0) means that companies will get to start taking advantage of the "white space" out there, or the unused airwaves between television channels that would be perfect for carrying wireless data.
In-flight Wi-Fi has gone from a neat novelty to something we almost expect on any sort of long flight. But one airline is way behind the pack, and it looks like it's going to be there for a while: JetBlue. The good news is that they're planning to implement in-flight Wi-Fi, but the bad news is that it isn't going to happen until mid-2012.
So you want to stream music from your computer to another room. Congratulations, you've realized what century this is. First, you're going to need some kind of wireless receiver in that room. You could get an unnecessarily expensive system like the Sonos, or go with a cheap and easy streamer like this Orb, just $69. But, yep, there's a catch.