I'm a big fan of using a mobile hotspot for connectivity on the go, and they're a great thing to take on holidays. But hotspots don't have to be limited to only when you're on a long-distance trip for work or pleasure, as this top five shows.
Picture by Ed Yourdon
I would have killed for a portable hotspot back when I was in university. Sadly, no such things existed at the time. If I ever go back to studying, I'll definitely keep one. The appeal of having your own portable wireless cloud that can travel with you, whether you're tapping notes away in a lecture theatre, working in the library or just lounging around in your room, is undeniable, even with campus-wide Wi-Fi in some locations.
OK, this one does involve travelling -- of a sort. But for most of us, the daily commute isn't over a great distance; it's a fixed trip every day. A portable hotspot makes it easy to use everything from a smartphone to a tablet and up to a laptop on the go. Now all you have to do is get yourself a seat on the bus or train.
3. Office work
The office might not seem like the most obvious place for a wireless hotspot, but there's a lot of utility in having one tucked away in a drawer. For a start, they're an excellent insurance policy if your office fixed-line connection goes down and you've got urgent work to do. Equally, if you spend your life in meeting rooms with limited Ethernet connectivity, a wireless hotspot will keep you physically untethered but still active online.
Rental properties come with many interesting quirks, not the least of which is sorting out the incoming communications. In a shared house, sorting out the phone and internet bill can be a challenging task, and a personal hotspot has obvious utility. Even those who live alone can benefit, as you don't need to worry about paying for new ADSL/cable/NBN connections every time you move.
5. Escaping app limitations
Many applications simply won't work -- or won't update -- over a mobile connection. Apple recently upped its limit from 20MB to 50MB, but the issue remains. If you're in desperate need of an app (or a function only available in its update), then a hotspot can provide you with the wireless connection needed to make it a reality.
Got other key scenarios where you find hotspots useful? Tell us in the comments.