Techno Tools for Writers: Writing Wirelessly with MiFi
Before the advent of smart phones with Internet browsing capabilities, the only way to access the Internet while on the road was to tether your cellphone to your laptop—or invest in a subscription to a Riccochet/ Metricom service that was prevalent in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s in major cities across the US. (Yes, I was one of those loyal, yet doomed subscribers.) While browser capability on a cell phone is helpful, it can also be frustrating to use when you have to type long emails, notes, blog posts, story ideas, and/or edits. What you really want is a traveling, always-on, secure wireless connection on your laptop, to make things so much easier.
Do you spend a lot of time writing on the go? Do you often find yourself chasing down a WiFi connection? Do you get finger cramps from too much cell phone typing? There’s a solution, which can reduce the anxiety of finding that nearest hotspot, that literally fits into your pocket. Meet MiFi.
Developed by Novatel, the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot delivers your own personal WiFi network that connects anywhere you are. The device is sleek and small (about the thickness of six credit cards) and piggybacks off of the 3G network of either Sprint or Verizon, two of the carriers that sell this device. (You do not have to subscribe to their cell phone service to use the MiFi.) The best part is that you can share the connection with up to five devices—friends, co-workers, or use multiple WiFi enabled devices, acting as a wireless router. If you want to use it solely for yourself, the MiFi 2200 has a USB mode that allows you to hook it up directly to your laptop and use it as a wireless modem. Either way, MiFi is password protected and features WEP and WPA encryption, so you don’t have to worry about other people picking up your network and logging on without your permission.
The biggest downside to MiFi is the cost—and not necessarily the cost of the device itself (right now both Verizon and Sprint offer the MiFi for $100 after rebates with a two year contract). Service plans start at $40 per month for up to 250MB (Verizon)/300MB (Sprint) of data, and $60 for 5GB. If you’re a frequent traveler and heavy internet user, or have friends willing to split the cost of the service, then it becomes a more affordable solution. Sprint has posted a chart on their website that shows an approximation of what you can do with either 300MB or 5GB per month, but be careful, because if you run over your monthly allotment, you’ll get charged $.05 per MB, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but can add up quickly. If you can manage within your data plan, and need the ultimate in mobile connectivity when you write, this could become a nice replacement for even your home broadband-connection. Just be sure you don’t sit on the MiFi
Heidi Leder (@c2cmom) is a freelance writer with specialties in technology, travel, and family. Heidi (Coast 2 Coast Mom) mothered her son literally from coast to coast—Silicon Valley to the Chicago suburbs to North Jersey, where he is currently in pre-school—while keeping one foot firmly planted in the working world. She also contributes to Techlicious.com, NYMetropolista.com, and www.NewJerseyMomsBlog.com.