Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cell Phone Bargain

Moto G
Great phone. Great service. Great value.

No contract cell phone service is much less expensive than contract service, but you have to buy your own cell phone (instead of having the cost bundled into contract phone service), and an up front cost of several hundred dollars can be a significant drawback.

The Moto G, a breakthrough Android smartphone with solid specifications and an amazing price of only $180 that made no contract cell phone service much more attractive, is now even better: Net10 Wireless has a special Moto G (1st generation) price of only $120 (as of this writing) that makes it a steal! Although it's not LTE (see below), its 4G speed is still quite respectable.

Net10 Wireless is one of the best values in cell phone service, with unlimited domestic phone, text, and data (as of this writing) for only:
  • $40 per month with a small amount of high speed data (500 MB)
  • $45 per month (on auto-refill) with a substantial amount of high speed data (3 GB)
  1. With Net10 Wireless, you can choose either the AT&T or the T-Mobile network. AT&T tends to have better network coverage. T-Mobile tends to have higher data speed.
  2. The LTE version of the Moto G (with faster data speeds) is available on Amazon for $190 (as of this writing).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wi-Fi on the Water

Alfa Marine USB Wi-Fi
If you're on a boat, and there's Wi-Fi available ashore, but your computer can't get enough signal for a usable connection, the outdoor waterproof Alfa Marine USB Wi-Fi Adapter can be a good solution.

The pictured module has an integrated 12 dBi long-range antenna. Although the antenna is directional, the pattern is wide enough that pointing is not critical, and a fair amount of boat movement is tolerated. With clear line-of-sight and a good antenna at the other end, range can be a mile or more.

The module mounts to something like a stanchion or mast on deck by means of stainless hose clamps or plastic zip ties, with a USB cable running to a computer below deck. Although the cable is limited to 15 ft (5 m) by the USB standard, a USB extension cable may be used for an additional 15 ft.

Available on Amazon for only $35 (link) as of this writing. Drivers provided for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

(Beware of cheaper off-brand units with exaggerated claims of antenna gain or range. Most are junk.)

Tip: Only one computer is supported, but if the computer has Wi-Fi, software can turn that Wi-Fi into a hotspot for wireless devices. Sharing over Ethernet (cable) is also possible.