Mobile Computing Networks

Using mobile computers when in transit implies mobile computing. This is effectuated by using wireless technologies such as LAN, WAN, Wi-Fi, GPRS, etc.

LAN refers to Local Area Networking. This is not a very mobile technology, as it restricts the area of its reach. LAN refers to the connectivity of two or more fixed or mobile computing devices within a particular area. This connection can be done physically by cables (in which case it would not be an example of mobile computing) or other connections such as infrared rays and wireless connections. LAN enables computers within its reach to share and compute data. It is primarily an intranet network.

WAN is Wide Area Networking. It is wider in its outreach. WAN refers to the connection of two locations. These locations may be connected internally through LAN networks. WAN essentially uses wireless connections between its locations.

MAN is another kind of network used in mobile computing. It stands for Metropolitan Area Networking and it connects mobile computing devices within a particular city or metropolitan area. Devices such as mobile phones and car computers can be hooked up onto MAN to keep them interconnected. MAN provides speeds of 128 kbps or 256 kbps. Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and about 15 major airports in America are currently connected by MAN.

Cell phones are currently the most commonly used mobile computing devices on the planet. They use wireless technologies such as GSM, CDMA, WLL, GPRS, EDGE, 3G etc. for their connectivity. Currently, GPRS or General Packet Radio Service is considered a fast-growing technology. GPRS networks coupled with EDGE or Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution provide fast Internet connection on cell phones. They can provide data transfer speeds of about 384 kbps, which are much higher than GSM and CDMA technologies.

Besides these popular services, there are also some lesser-known networks that have been introduced lately. One such network, the Metricom, was available in 12 cities and 15 airports. However, it is no longer available due to the company’s financial constraints. ArrayComm and SWIFTComm are relatively new networks that promise speeds of up to 1 Mbps to the mobile computer user.

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Mobile Computing Essentials

Mobile computing is the ability to do computing tasks in some or all possible locations. Here, I’ll be listing (in my opinion are) the top 4 requirements for mobile computing and my suggestions/opinions on those requirements.

There are other requirements for mobile computing, and you can check them at Wikipedia.

Portability

It’s common sense: if your computers or mobile devices are too heavy to carry around they are useless for mobile computing. Gone are the days of lugging around heavy laptops the size of attache cases. A good example of a very portable computing device is the Apple MacBook Air: It’s small and thin enough to put in an envelope. Also good examples are the humble netbooks. These small, almost pocket sized computers are small and light enough that you can almost put them inside your coat pockets or purses. They offer relatively good processing power for the basic computing needs, up to 15 hours of battery life (depending on use) and are cheaper than most full size notebooks. Since Asus came out with the original Ultra Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC), the EEEPC, almost all computer companies have created their own netbook line.

Now, with the release of the Apple iPad tablet, Tablet Computing have been put in spotlight again. Major computer brands are following with Samsung releasing the Galaxy Tab and HP developing and hopefully finally releasing the Slate, and Asus announcing the EeePads, that more than out features and out powers the iPad.

Battery Life

Even if you have the fastest and lightest computing devices (laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc.) but you don’t have enough power to support them, they are practically useless for mobile computing. A couple of hours of power is the current standard for most laptops. If your laptop’s battery last for three hours that’s already above average.

With netbooks, three hours is just the average. Because of the development of low power consuming processors and LED displays, and also the development of higher capacity, compact lithium ion/ polymer battery packs, we have netbooks that can stay powered for more than 8 hours. Example of such laptops are the next generation Acer Aspire One 533, ASUS Eee PC 1015,MSI U160, HP Mini 210 Series. Imagine this scenario: You fully charge your netbook before you start the day and then use it unplugged for the whole day. Now that’s you call “truly mobile computing”. With smartphones, especially those that utilizes a lot of 3G connectivity, a full day of operation is adorable: anything less is just normal.

Internet Connectivity

Staying connected to the Internet is one of the basic requirements for mobile computing. Unless you don’t have any use for the Internet, your mobile computing device should at least have a built-in wireless network adapter, also known as wi-fi card. Another essential device for staying connected with your netbook or laptops is a mobile broadband device like the 3G USB modems, pcmcia cards, and built-in 3G modems in several netbooks and laptops. The latest smartphones take full advantage of 3G networks: they can work outside wi-fi hotspots. The only downside to that is the rapid loss of battery life.

Durability

Mobile computing has the most demanding requirements for devices especially when it comes to durability. Because mobile computing is done anywhere and everywhere, the devices you use should be able to survive the most number of scenarios. And when we talk about durability in mobile computing, nothing beats the Panasonic ToughBook. This line of laptops from Panasonic were designed to handle the most demanding computing environments. Check out the videos in Youtube.

Tips

Before buying any mobile computing device, make sure you research well about the product. The best way to gauge if the device meets your needs and wants is to try the actual device. If you can try the device for a day, the better.

Always buy mobile computing devices with at least one year warranty. That gives you a small sense of security when your device fails within the first year.

When it comes to durability, most mobile computing devices like laptops, netbooks, smartphones, and tablets have operational guidelines that you should follow. If you use these devices outside their perscribe conditions, you risk voiding the warranty. Examples are using the device under the rain, vibrating platforms, sand-prone and water-prone places like the beach, and other uncommon locations.

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Mobile Computing

Mobile computing refers to the use of any kind of computer in a moving environment. The motion may be of the device itself, as in laptops, palmtops, wearable computers, and mobile phones; or it may refer to the dynamics of the computing process, as in digital cameras, podcasters and MP3 players. Mobile computing devices generally use wireless technologies such as LAN, Wi-Fi, GPRS and the more recently introduced MAN.

Mobile computing can be broadly classified into two categories – portable computing and mobility computing. Portable computing actually refers to wired communication. Portable devices themselves are movable, but in order to access them one needs to connect them to a network port. That means, portable computing devices can be carried to wherever there is a network port available. Mobility computing is also called simply mobile computing nowadays. This is true wireless communication. Not only are the devices movable, but they can also be accessed from almost anywhere. Today, portable computing is almost on the verge of extinction; mobile computing has made its foray into almost every aspect of human life.

The first usage of mobile computing devices was perhaps in vehicles. Speedometers were among the first devices to get computerized. Almost every modern vehicle has several mobile computing devices under its dashboard. Cell phones are another rampant proliferation of mobile computing today. Every single cell phone is a computer in its own right. With the advent of wireless technologies, it is also possible to access the Internet through cell phones. Blue tooth has brought cell phone users closer than ever before and has facilitated data transfer within a stipulated area. Another brilliant advancement in the field of wireless technologies is the Metropolitan Area Network, or MAN, which will allow vehicles and cell phones to remain in communication with each other forming a network probably much vaster than the internet.

Today, mobile computing is a boon to people on the move. It can be used for checking mails while in transit and even carry out transactions and businesses. Services like SMS (Short Messaging Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) are targeted towards the younger generation to remain in contact with their colleagues and friends. During sports events, mobile networks keep users informed of the goings-on.

However, critics are concerned with the intrusion of privacy that mobile computing creates. Several members of the younger generation are turning into ‘gizmo freaks’ and becoming almost addicted to their mobile computing devices like watches and cell phones. Some of these devices which work on infrared technologies can also pose potential health risks.

Yet, mobile computing has become an indispensable extension of technology today. It is definitely here to stay.

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