Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

The unusual winter weather has caused a power outage, along with the connectivity upon which I depend to work. These are the times that demonstrate how good it is to be a mobile tech geek.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Mobile hotspots by candlelight

Mobile hotspots by candlelight

We don't get much winter weather on the Texas Gulf Coast, but when it hits everything shuts down. The temperature at Mobile News Manor this morning is 19 degrees, and that has brought total power outages all over town. My power has been out for over an hour, along with the connectivity upon which I depend to work. These are the times that demonstrate how good it is to be a mobile tech reporter, as the very gear I cover comes to the rescue to keep me online and working.

The two key things that come into play during outages like this are battery life and wireless connectivity (3G/4G). The first is the easiest for me, with no fewer than six laptops in my office. Each of them has a battery that is charged, and two of them have 2nd batteries available to swap in when needed. I estimate I can keep working online for solid 30+ hours before battery life becomes a concern.

The connectivity issue is normally the most critical, as total dependency on wireless data networks means depending on battery operated devices to get online. Fortunately, I currently have 5 devices that function as mobile hotspots. The Sprint Overdrive modem and HTC EVO 4G can serve this need, but since the Sprint WiMAX network does not cover my house they revert to the 3G (EVDO) network. This is plenty fast enough, so that's just fine with me.

I happen to be testing a MiFi on the AT&T network, so that's what I am using currently. This is faster than the Sprint 3G network, and I am seeing very good bandwidth. When the MiFi runs out of juice, probably around 4 or 5 hours, I can switch over to the HTC EVO Shift 4G I am also testing. This will use the Sprint 3G network too, and as a mobile hotspot will probably work for around 5 hours before the battery dies.

When all other hotspot devices run out of juice, the Samsung Galaxy Tab can function as a MiFi on the Sprint 3G network for a solid 10 hours. This is a use for the Tab that isn't discussed often, but can come in handy during times like these.

I estimate I can keep online without power for a solid 30 hours using all of these hotspots combined, and that doesn't count the fact I have an extra battery for the EVO 4G. That would add another 5 hours of hotspot usage.

The only downside to having all of this mobile tech at hand is I never have an excuse to miss work. That was particularly evident a couple of years ago when I was able to work for a week during Hurricane Ike, without power nor wired connectivity. Mobile tech to the rescue again.

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