40Tech is pleased to present this guest post by Simon Butler from Rental Tablets.
More people buy WiFi-only tablets than tablets with 3G or 4G capability. This is partly because WiFi-only tablets are cheaper; in the case of the iPad it’s £100 (UK) or $130 (US) cheaper. In addition to this, if you want to actually use 3G or LTE on your iPad you’re looking at between £10 to £15 (UK) or $15 (US) a month extra for the data plan. So it’s easy to see why some users would just opt for the WiFi-only option.
However, all is not lost. There are many ways you can make the most of your WiFi-only tablet when away from a WiFi hotspot.
1. Tether Your Smartphone Connection
Tethering is a way to piggyback the 3G connection from one device to another. You can tether your smart phones 3g internet connection to your WiFi iPad using an “ad-hoc” connection. Some networks, though, may charge for this or even prohibit this altogether. Some networks like o2 set monthly data limits, such as 500MB per month. So you can tether till your heart’s content but make sure you don’t go over your limit because data charges tend to be penalising once you go over your free allowance.
There are unofficial methods of tethering too. Android users can root their phones or use PDANet to tether, while iPhone users can jailbreak their devices and install MyWi. But not all networks will approve of aftermarket tethering. Note also that jail breaking is a big grey area beyond the scope of this article. The usual disclaimer applies: we’re not advocating or advising the use of jailbreak, consult a lawyer before proceeding.
2. Use pay-for subscriptions for WiFi hotspots
If you use your iPad out in the city center, you’ll find lots of pay-for WiFi hotspots everywhere. But before handing over your card details look around for free bundle deals. For instance BT-WiFi in the UK is free for all BT home broadband users. WiFi hotspots are much faster than 3G hotspots too, plus you don’t have an excessive data restriction like 500MB per month which is only good for pictures and text pages.
3. Pocket it for later reading
Pocket is an ingenious app that saves web pages, web based emails and other web content onto the handset for later reading. It even integrates with over 200 other apps so you can use the pocket it feature with news readers, twitter apps and rss readers. Once you mark a piece with Pocket, it’s saved and you can pull up the saved entries and read them offline. Even if you have 3G this app is still useful to have especially if your signal is weak and you anticipate going through no-3G and no-WiFi areas such as airports, some hospitals and rural areas (and motorways) etc.
4. Send files directly between devices
WiFi Files (iOS) and WiFi File Explorer Pro (Android) allow you to wirelessly transfer files between computers and tablet devices. Currently it’s not possible to transfer files from one tablet to another, which would have had far more useful practical applications.
5. Wifi connection sage
There are many free WiFi networks available like McDonalds free WiFi that require you to enter your login details in a web browser before using the network. For Apple users the notification is instant, but for Android users there is no notification. WiFi Browser Login (for Android) provides that feature for Android users, allowing you to go through the login procedure automatically just like in an Apple device.
Furthermore WiFi Analyser scans all the nearest WiFi signals around you and graphically displays the strength of WiFi signal in much greater detail. Unlike the 3 or 4 bar signal strength indicator, this app gives a more detailed insight. You can use the graphics to navigate your way around thick walls and obstructions to get a better signal.
So there you go, 5 great tips to live with a WiFi-only tablet. Do you have any other tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.
This is a guest post written by Simon Butler, co-founder of Rental Tablets, a UK based iPad hire firm, which rents out iPads to businesses for use in events and exhibitions. More info can be found here.