Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

Hi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Now Mi-Fi? Oh My!

If you’re familiar with this column you’re already aware that almost all electronic audio and video devices are now shipping with network capability. That means that theses components can connect to the internet. The internet provides a perfect distribution pipeline for movies, music, personal photos and videos, and home entertainment in general.

That new flat panel TV or Blu-Ray player you want, can connect to Netflix to download movies. And your new a/v receiver can connect to Pandora, Slacker and other internet music services. OK Larry, we all know about that from previous articles. What’s the deal here? The deal is the internet service that almost of us use on a daily basis. Thirty years ago we wouldn’t have dreamed of something called the internet, or even e-mail. Now it seems like there is a race for companies like Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, Atlantic Broadband, and Comcast to be our Internet Service Provider (ISP).

It’s another monthly bill to pay, but really, most of us would not want to be without internet service. We need it for business, school and entertainment. A friend of mine recently applied for a job at a large retail food store. He was told that they only accept applications online. The internet is a huge part of our lives, like it or not. But how do we get to the world wide web and what does the (near) future look like?

There are several ways to get there. In Queen Anne’s County we have Atlantic Broadband, Verizon DSL, Satellite, Sprint wireless, and a few other smaller ISPs. A few years ago we had dial-up. Remember how slow that was! Network speeds are much faster today but still not totally there for large files like full motion hi-definition movies. I would think competition will drive speeds up and maybe even prices down. Last week I read about a fairly new product from Verizon that really caught my attention. They call it Mi-Fi.

We all know about wi-fi which gives us the convenience to connect to our wireless router with our laptops, iPods, iPads etc. But what if you could take an internet connection with you? The mi-fi device and service is designed to do just that. Basically Verizon packages a small device that connects to the internet via its 3G or 4G LTE wireless network. The small device allows 5 devices (laptops, iPhones, iPads etc) to connect to the internet and can be powered with a built-in battery. So its kinda like carrying your wireless router with you. A contractor could connect his laptop to the internet from the jobsite, just like he would from his office. If you travel, take your internet connection with you and download movies, e-mail photos, and maybe even check your office e-mail.

Currently I am paying for internet service at my home and at my office. If I had a device such as the Verizon mi-fi that I took with me, I could save as much as $30 a month. Well that a no-brainer Einstein! What’s the holdup? The holdup is that the network is not quite ready for prime time. I read many reviews and while the concept is fabulous, the network speeds are just not quite happening. But sometime in the not too distant future you will be able to take the internet with you and create your own “hotspot”.

I don’t how AT&T, Sprint, and the other players will respond. But connecting to the internet will be everywhere and I’m guessing that competition will probably bring prices down. It’s all about connecting to the network.

Mi-fi, Oh My!