Five Must-Have Gadgets

Music servers and computer audio,
Source components,

Mobile Broadband (WWAN) Card/Service

What It Does:
Allows you to create an Internet connection anywhere there is a high-speed cell phone signal. It requires an adapter that usually plugs into a USB or PCCard port on your laptop. Software is needed to start up a connection. And you need a service plan from a mobile communications company (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc).

What’s To Like:
Mobile Broadband (WWAN) works well beyond WiFi hotspots because it uses the mobile phone network.

You can use your laptop at the pool or on the beach. Like a phone, it works when you are on the move, for example in a car or train (not in planes, though that separate service is coming on line). Speed is moderate, but generally acceptable given that the alternative is usually no Internet connection at all.

What’s Missing:
While these WWAN services are called “broadband,” speed is not as high as on a WiFi system or your office network.

New services, for example, Sprint’s WiMax, will be coming in 2–3 years that offer speeds competitive with wired networks. Some WWAN services work in Europe (check with your carrier), but the cost can be astronomical for all but short sessions.

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