This past weekend, I finally decided to spring for a Chromebook. I’ve been thinking more and more about a Windows replacement machine, at least for basic tasks. I also wanted an inexpensive solution that would extend the life of my current laptop. I often don’t need the full machine out on the road and the smaller profile of the Chromebook makes an attractive alternative.
I’ve been playing around the Amazon’s Echo Dot for just under a week now and was curious about its portability. Obviously, the hardware just needs a place to plug in and a Wi-Fi network to access but I was really wondering if I could run its data through my phone’s 4G hotspot. Public networks are fine and I don’t do any secure transactions through the Dot but I just had to know!
I have one of the Samsung Galaxy Prime phones which has served me pretty well for the past year. I don’t use the hotspot much but it comes in pretty handy when I want to login to a private site from a local restaurant and the MetroPCS 4G signal is really good in the area.
I wasn’t sure how useful the service would ultimately be but at $49.99, I decided the Echo Dot was affordable enough to take a chance on. Miniaturizing the Echo and setting the price low was a smart move on Amazon’s part. In addition to decreasing the cost of purchase, it also turns it into a potential repeat purchase as customers decide they want access to Alexa throughout their homes. Amazon is even offering the Dot in discounted 6- and 12-packs.
When I started using computers about 30 years ago, the floppy disk was the standard of personal data storage. I actually started out using the 5.25″ disk so the 3.5″ disk with it’s hard case and a little bit more space was a welcome improvement at the time.
We’ve come a long way in the last three decades and now we have flash drives that can store tens of thousands of times as much data as the old 1.44 MB disk. Although smaller sizes are still available, the smallest flash drive you’re likely to see now can carry 8 GB of data which would have been enough to backup my first hard drive a few hundred times over.
While file sizes have gotten much bigger, that’s still a lot of data to carry around, especially if some of it is of a personal nature. That has its own risks as I found out first hand a couple weeks ago.
I don’t usually do blatant advertising in these posts but I have to get the word out about this one. On September 30, 2015, Amazon.com will be selling the 7″ Kindle Fire with 8GB of memory and Wi-Fi for only $49.99. That’s a fantastic price for a great product. I’ve had mine for a few months now and love. it. In addition to reading books, I can watch Netflix on it, surf the web, listen to music and take pictures. I’ve been amazed by the video and audio quality on it and the camera is better than the one on my smartphone.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a tablet, I would definitely recommend the Kindle Fire. With webmail and all the free apps available through Amazon’s store, I can do most everyday tasks on my Kindle Fire. The voice recognition is also excellent so it’s easy to dictate e-mails and updates.
At $49.99, the Kindle Fire is something you definitely have to consider when buying a new tablet.
(In the interest of full-disclosure, the links in this post are affiliate links.)
Earlier this year, I upgraded to an Alcatel OneTouch Fierce smartphone from the $20 cheapo phone I was using and was pretty happy to be back in the Android camp with all the available apps and the usable ‘Net and mail features I’d been doing without, not to mention the 4G service that Sprint had never delivered in this area but charged me for anyway. About a month ago, I noticed the hotspot feature on the Alcatel and, for $5 / month, figured it was a great deal. Now, I could share my 4G signal with my laptop, log in more securely in public and even have a backup broadband service for my PC when my ISP’s service occasionally flakes out.
All was going good for about a month until this weekend when the hotspot suddenly stopped working. My PC and laptop would still show a good connection to the hotspot but I couldn’t load any pages in the browser. Chrome would spend about 15 seconds trying to establish a connection and then report that the page took too long to load. Firefox was the same. I tried with three different machines and three different operating systems (Windows XP / 7 and 8) and all did the same.
The only drawback for me was the AMR format that is standard with Android sound recording apps. If I’m going to be recording, I want to use the standard MP3 format that can be played on pretty much whatever device or software I’m using and can be recorded in various bit rates to balance the need for quality against the length of the recording and the space available. After comparing a few apps, I settled on the Hi-Q MP3 Recorder from Yuku.