Taking a tablet to town...

Some time in the summer, we noted a report suggesting a developing trend toward ownership of "simple" phones and wifi only tablets. Viewed against the ongoing flood of new smart phone announcements, this hardly seemed credible (though perhaps cost has something to do with it, we thought!).

But,... this month we learned of a wifi network identified as ShawOpen. Perhaps previous mentions of this 'feature' for Shaw internet customers was lost among the barrage of spam mail received from the company every month, and therefore ignored. Nonetheless, it exists, as a 'trial' service currently, for Shaw internet customers.

Enter the Nexus 7 tablet we blogged about previously in the summer. This really has been a delightful tool which sees daily use for checking on email, calendars and directions, among other things. It does however have ONLY WiFi capability, so any function requiring internet access is restricted to times when on a suitable wireless network.

Back to Shaw - the company has located scores of wireless access points or hotspots, at key and convenient locations, mostly eateries at malls or along major routes, but also locations where folks may be detained for a while such as hairdressers, and locally, even at Port Haney station here in Maple Ridge.

Perhaps it is a combination of the higher powered radios in newer wireless access points, and the apparently huge sensitivity of the Nexus tablet in detecting wireless networks, but testing showed that in some cases, the Nexus 7 could get internet access through ShawOpen at quite considerable distances from the nearest reported access point; this is not always the case though, as in other locations, walls and other objects obstructed the signal, preventing access even when only a few car lengths away from the source.

Now, consider this development together with the "Freetown" municipal public access network in the Maple Ridge downtown core, or the "CPM Guest" city sponsored access points in public buildings in Pitt Meadows, as well as the host of businesses offering free WiFi, and similar developments in other cities, and suddenly, the notion of using a WiFi only device is not so far fetched after all...

... just remember that there are 'rogue' access points out there set up to steal personal information, so inquire first to be sure that you're connecting to a legitimate hotspot!