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Mobile Computing

September 2000
By Daniel Cheung

There are currently two available ways of going about mobile computing.  The first to appear is connecting to the Internet using a normal mobile phone, which in turn is connected to a computer.  The later to become used widely is using WAP-enabled mobile phone technology.  New forms of protocols and methods are arising, but so far these are the two trends that have captured the attention of manufacturers, industry experts and the public alike.

What Hardware and Software Do I Need For Mobile Computing?

Internet Connection Via Mobile Phone

NoteBook Computer

Equipment Needed
The most direct way of Internet access using a mobile phone is by using a WAP phone.  In this case you can access WAP pages on the Internet.  Otherwise, the mobile phone is only a device to dial in to your ISP.  It cannot even login to your Internet account, let alone surf the Internet.  To enable your mobile phone to connect to the Internet and be of use to you, you must first make your phone connect to your computer.  There are currently two ways of doing this.  Firstly, you can purchase a data cable that connects the mobile phone to  the computer, be this a PC, notebook, or hand-held computer.


Infrared Port

The second way is to use infrared technology to connect your mobile phone to your computer.  There are several factors that must be observed.  On the one hand, your mobile phone must have this infrared function.  Examples of phones with infrared function are Nokia 8850,8210, Ericsson R320 and Motorola L2000. On the other hand, your computer must also be infrared enabled.  Most notebooks and hand-held computers (e.g. PalmV and later) have this function built in, while with most PCs you must also purchase an infrared adapter. One more detail is the fact that most mobile phones to date do not have built-in modems.  In this case it is necessary to revert to using the cable. Check your computer or contact the vendor to see if this is the case.


Access WAP site with Palm V via infrared connection to Nokia 8210

When talking of mobile computing, the hardware of choice is of course the hand-held or notebook over the PC.  After all, would you be a mobile person while carrying a PC around?  However, using a hand-held device has its limitations.  For instance, using Palm hand-helds means that you must use OS 3.3 or above versions of OS - add this to the fact that your Palm only has 2MB to 4MB of memory, and you may find that your ability to download to be seriously limited.  Another concern is that the highest transfer rate for the common GSM connection is only 9.6kps.  This would make transfer of web-pages slow, and make connection times lengthy - think of your monthly cost!  However, on this front there seems to be hope on the horizon - the new GPRS services being successfully tested in Australia would mean data transfer rates of up to 50kps are possible in the near future.

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