Tag Archives: signal amplifier

The Tech Essentials List for College Students

Heading off to college for the first time and not sure what gadgets you’ll need? Sending your child to school and want them to succeed? This list has the essential gadgets you need, with no unnecessary extras, and picks out the best in each category.

After a year of interning with zBoost, I head back to college for the last time. Only one more year of school and I will be a real adult! Ah scary! Now you can benefit from the years of college under my belt, and take note of which gadgets you need to ace classes.

By: Idea Go FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By: Idea Go

Obviously you are going to need a laptop. There are school computers you can use, but are you really going to walk all the way to the library to take your 5 minute homework quiz that’s due at midnight? Your laptop will become your baby and go with you everywhere; to class for notes, home for Netflix and uhh homework. So now the question is: do you save money and go with a nice Windows laptop or get fancy with a Macbook Pro?  I am in no way a diehard Apple fanatic but I truly love my Macbook Pro. It turned 5 years old this month and is still going strong. Never having to worry about viruses, along with all the features Mac includes, makes the Apple Macbook Pro the recommendation for me. Long-term this is the best bang for your buck. Continue reading

zBoost: Featured on The Daily Buzz – Home Office Segment

The zBoost SOHO was featured on The Daily Buzz yesterday in a home office segment presented by Lifestyle expert Brian von Dedenroth.


Working from home is a great benefit but can be less than ideal if you don’t have a home office ready for business.  Key items to a well fitted home office is a dedicated area with plenty of work area and storage space. A window is definitely an asset and if it’s a quiet area, all the better.

At Wi-Ex we have had numerous customers call to say they have spent significant funds to set up a home office in their basement or some other area of their home only to find that they don’t receive cell service.  I had a similar experience when I set up my home office.  I have a room with a beautiful view of our backyard and was determined that my desk would be in front of that window.  Sounded great in theory, until I had to run outside to the driveway yelling, “Can you hear me now?” every time I made or received a call.  A zBoost SOHO was the next and one of the most important additions to my home office.

Please share any tips or products that have made your home office more productive.


PC World Shows You How to Work Outdoors

While the Georgia heat has us all indoors, some of you may be looking for ways to take your work outside.

PC World gives you some good tips on making the most of workout outdoors including boosting your signal with zBoost.

How to Work Outdoors

By Christopher NullPCWorld

How to Work OutdoorsLaptops, tablets, and smartphones are supposed to make us mobile: Freed of cumbersome desktop technology, we can work anywhere we want. Why, then, don’t you see legions of people at parks, beaches, or even sidewalk cafes typing away on their laptops? Mainly because they simply can’t see their screens.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A little planning and know-how can get you ahead of the game when it comes to using your gadgetry outside. Whether you’re reading ebooks on your iPhone or sneaking in a few work emails while the kids build a sand castle, here’s how best to set yourself up to work alongside Mother Nature.

Fall Into Shadow

When working outdoors, shade is your friend. In fact, if you haven’t prepared in advance for your outdoor adventure, it’s pretty much all you’ve got. Your only hope to see anything on most LCD screens is to find some shade and dig deep into it.

HoodmanThis portable, folding hood provides instant, deep shade.Anything can be used as shade in a pinch, from the obvious tree, umbrella, or side of a building to less evident objects, like a cast-off pizza box folded into a tent or, in a pinch, your own head. For head-shading, resist the urge to hold your laptop or mobile phone between you and the sun, thinking you’ll block out the light like an eclipse: That simply won’t work. Switch it around and put your head between the sun and the screen, so the shadow of your noggin falls on the display. This won’t provide much shade, but, for limited use and with small screens like your phone, it will work well enough to at least read text.

Get Shade Anywhere

If working outside is going to be a regular thing for you, you might consider investing in a portable shade device that you can take with you as part of your travel kit. A company calledHoodman offers two clever covers that hook over your laptop’s screen, shading it on all sides from sunlight while still giving you access to the keyboard. It looks a little strange–but no stranger than you will look working on your computer on the beach–and it works quite well. Best of all, the soft-sided shade collapses flat and stores easily in the included carrying case. Versions for Macs or PCs are available, both $40.

Outdoor Out the Gate

Fujitsu Stylistic Q550The field of outdoor-ready laptops is small, but it includes this Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 tablet.If you’re a true outdoorsman, you may want to consider one of the small number of laptops that are available with so-called “indoor/outdoor” displays, designed for visibility inside or outside. When shopping, look for “I/O,” “Outdoor View,” or “Enhanced Outdoor” as part of the screen specs, or just ask–sometimes this key feature can be omitted completely from a list of a computer’s specs.

This technology has been especially popular with older-style tablet PCs as well as a few newer slate tablets. Some current devices that include the technology are the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, the HP EliteBook 2760p, and most of the Panasonic Toughbookline.

Compare and Contrast

Using a high-contrast color scheme will improve your outdoor viewing experience, no matter how much shade you have, by turning your working experience into a black-and-white one that scrubs out many of the shades of gray (and splashes of color) to which office users are accustomed. The result is a stripped-down computing experience, but one that will make outdoor viewing considerably easier.

Set contrast options in Windows 7.Windows’ high contrast themes aren’t the prettiest on the block, but they make outdoor operating easier.In Windows 7, open the Personalization Control Panel and scroll down a bit below the Aero Themes. You’ll see the Basic and High Contrast Themes listed here. Experiment with the four high-contrast options to find the one that works the best for you–though adjusting to a white-on-black color scheme can be jarring and will take some acclimation time.

Your LCD brightness should generally be set to the maximum available (though this will put more strain on your battery), and you might also consider increasing the text size by using the “Larger – 150%” setting on the home screen of the Display Control panel, to make things even easier to read.

Get E-Inked

Got a lot of reading to do but don’t want to put it on paper? Electronic ink devices like Amazon’s Kindle are perfect for this kind of work, since the reflective screen is designed to work without backlighting. The result: Text on a Kindle looks even better under bright light than in the dark.

The newest Kindle can accept a wide variety of file formats, including Word, PDF, RTF, HTML, plain text, and various image formats for display on the device. Simply email the documents as attachments to the address noted on your Kindle’s Settings page under “Device Email.” Amazon offers copious additional details on the ins and outs of sending personal documents to your Kindle at this link. But remember that older Kindle models have different supported formats.

Surf’s Up, Sand’s Out

If your outdoor working adventure is taking you somewhere more exotic than the backyard, be sure to prepare for those twin menaces of all electronic devices, water and sand. Water is well understood as an electronic hazard, but sand can quickly brick anything with moving parts: A single grain of the stuff can kill your digital camera’s zoom mechanism or prevent the shutter from opening and closing, not to mention scratching the screen of your tablet or laptop.

Waterproof iPad case from TrendyDigitalBag your laptop, tablet, or cell phone with an instant waterproofing system like this one from Trendy Digital.Protection from the elements can be as simple as keeping your gadgets in a sealed Ziploc bag when they aren’t in use, or as complicated as investing in a custom, ruggedized, waterproof case. A wide variety of cases for all manner of devices are available. You can check out brands like OtterBoxXGear, andTrendyDigital to get started.

Now About That Web Connection…

Seeing your screen is one thing. Getting online is another. In parks, on beaches, and even in backyards, getting a Wi-Fi or cellular signal can be a challenge. Short of petitioning your carrier to erect a cell phone tower closer to the waterfront, these tricks can increase your chances of getting a wireless signal from a remote location.

Wi-Fi: If you’re simply working in the backyard and are trying to access the Wi-Fi signal inside your house, you can accomplish this in a few ways. You can extend the signal outdoors by relocating your router near that side of the house or add a repeater to extend the signal outdoors. Aftermarket antennas can also be used with some routers to increase their signal strength, hopefully letting you reach your hammock in the gazebo with a Wi-Fi signal. If changing your router setup doesn’t work, you can invest in a new Wi-Fi card for your laptop with an external, high-gain antenna, increasing your available range.

WWAN: Again, if you’re near home and outdoor cellular signal strength (either for voice or data usage) is no good, you can use a femtocell to boost the signal. Verizon’s Wireless Network Extender and AT&T’s MicroCell attach to your home broadband connection and act as a sort of mini tower. Femtocell range is typically under 150 feet, so locate the unit near the backyard.

zBoostzBoost signal-boosting device.

However, if you’re in a public place and need a better signal, a few hacks can boost the number of bars you get on certain phones by one or two, although few of the hacks are very pretty. The website Wisebread experimented with an admittedly ugly wire-and-cans trick and claimed a three-bar improvement in a cellular signal. Rick Broida has some additional tips on the subject, including a discussion of zBoost, which is a more appropriate range-boosting solution for newer phones, MiFi units, and mobile hotspots–all of which increasingly lack the external antenna connector required for tricks like the cantenna described above.

Don’t Forget the Juice

As a final consideration, remember that working outdoors usually means being disconnected from the grid, and since upping the contrast and other tweaks can drain your battery faster, you may find your laptop fading before your sunscreen does.

The solution is simple, if on the expensive side: Upgrade to an extended-cell battery, using a “battery slice,” which is a flat battery that locks onto the bottom of a laptop–or simply carry spare batteries with you to get considerably more running time when you’re working remotely. For smaller devices such as cameras or dedicated voice recorders, rechargeable batteries generally provide more bang for the buck.

More esoteric power solutions–like solar recharging systems–won’t offer much help. Most of them just don’t have the power required to provide much of a boost to anything beyond a cell phone or camera–and even then, their internal batteries will need to be charged before you head out.

However, before draining your gadgets out in the wild, you can follow some proven tips to helpboost the battery life of your laptop and smartphone.

Related Articles

What gear and tricks do you use to work outside of the office? Please share your tips in the comments below. For more advice, see the following articles.

CNN: “New ‘iPhone 4S’ might come to Sprint, T-Mobile”

(CNN) — Maybe the hotly anticipated iPhone 5 won’t be an iPhone 5 at all.

But it might be available on more carriers.

The emerging theory, based on reports from industry analysts, is that the next model of Apple’s smartphone will be called the iPhone 4S and be an update of the current model, not a radical advance.

Multiple sites this weekend were citing a report by Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co.

“According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support,” Misek wrote in a report Friday.

Other analysts have offered similar predictions.

But Misek also wrote that Sprint, T-Mobile and China Mobile will be added as iPhone carriers, citing more “industry checks.”

The A5 dual-core processor is the same one that’s in the iPad 2. A dual-core processor is considered faster at running two programs at once than the single-core A4 processor in the iPhone 4.

The term “HSPA+ is a reference to high-speed processing. The phone reportedly will not utilize long-term evolution (LTE) technology, which is frequently marketed as 4G coverage.

The reports, and speculation, come as Apple’s traditional iPhone freshen-up approaches.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference begins June 6. That’s been used as Apple’s launching pad for the latest iPhone the past few years, but Apple has suggested the event will focus almost exclusively on software this year.

The tech-community’s hunch is that a new iPhone will be unveiled in the fall and rolled out in time for the holidays.

We asked our fellow Wi-Ex’ers: “What’s Your Favorite App?”

Since the Wi-Ex zBoost is a Gadget-for-your-Gadget, we’re pretty into our smartphones over here at Wi-Ex. Here are some of our favorite Apps for our smartphones!

 Frankie, Sales.  iPhone — Couch to 10K

 Bethany, Marketing. iPhone — Words with Friends

Kate, Marketing.  Blackberry Tour — Pandora

Julie, Marketing.  Blackberry Curve — Scoutmob

Lloyd, CEO. iPhone — New Pro-Thomson Reuters and Red Laser

Desiree, Sales. Droid Global -– Daily Bible and Bubble Buster

John, Operations.  iPhone — Shazam

Robert, Engineering.  iPhone — Siri

Roman, Customer Support. Droid Incredible — Shazam

Carol, IT.  iPhone — Business Card Reader

Catherine, Customer Support.  iPhone — Words with Friends

Cellphone Only Homes Becoming the Norm

As smartphones get smarter and cellphone plans get cheaper while expanding benefits, landlines are becoming more obsolete. While cell phones were once thought as a convenient way to contact people out of the home, they have now become a necessary lifeline, whether for business or personal use, that keep people connected their entire day.

A recent J.D. Power and Associates Report[1] shows that 56% of wireless phone calls are made indoors, which is an increase of 16% since 2003.

Following the trend of increased indoor wireless calls, one in four American homes (26.6%) are cellphone only, according to National Center for Health Statistics[2].  As the trend of cellphone only homes shows no signs of slowing down or being reversed, Stephen Blumberg at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics says, “The phrase ‘home telephone number’ is going the way of rotary dial phones and party lines.”

The only problem with cellphone only homes, the J.D. Power and Associates Report points out is, the quality of cellphone reception is getting worse. Cellphone signal weakens as is has to pass through obstacles such as walls, windows and roofs.

With the loss of landlines and the weakening of cell reception, cell phone signal boosters, such as Wi-Ex’s zBoost line, are also becoming a necessary accessory to keep people connected.

Bits blog: Is the iPad 2 a Lot Better Than the Original?

Thinner iPad 2Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Apple says the iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than the original model.

Over the weekend, Chris Dixon, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the social site Hunch, lamented on Twitter that he still had not purchased a new iPad 2. Although Mr. Dixon hopes to buy the highly coveted device soon, he questioned whether it was a “must have” upgrade from the first generation iPad.

I responded, along with a number of other Twitter users, that the new model had changed everything for me. I personally find that I use the iPad 2 for about 15 hours a week; when I owned the first-generation iPad, I used it for only one to two hours a week.

For me, there are several explanations. The iPad 2 answered a number of complaints I had with the previous model, which always felt a little too heavy and slow. Although the new model is only slightly smaller around the edges — Apple shaved millimeters off the exterior bezel — it is quite a bit thinner and lighter. As a result it is easier to hold when reading or surfing the Web. It is also more manageable on a morning commute.

Others I spoke with who have upgraded iPads also liked it better than the original version.

“Although the new iPad isn’t dramatically thinner, lighter or faster than the first, the collection of small improvements Apple has made make it feel like a huge deal,” said Alex Rainert, a designer who is head of product at the location-based start-up Foursquare. “The first iPad always felt a bit too heavy when typing or surfing the Web. The changes to the second generation make it feel like a fundamentally more usable device.”

For me, the iPad 2 also feels considerably faster than its predecessor. In part this is because the new smart cover, as I’ve written in the past, turns the device on as soon as you open it.  Typing is quicker, apps are more responsive, and the Web browser to me feels almost as fast as that of a desktop computer. In the past, the browser was extremely slow with image-heavy Web sites.

Justin Ouellette, a developer at BetaWorks, noted that the small increases in performance on the iPad went further than they would on a desktop computer.

“The iPad kind of ‘becomes’ whatever app you’re currently running, and being more powerful and physically slighter allows it to deliver that transparent experience ever more convincingly,” Mr. Ouellette wrote in an e-mail. “The best user interface is one you don’t notice because it never lags or causes you trouble.”

What do you think? For those of you who have upgraded to an iPad 2, do you think it’s a big improvement? Is it a “must have” upgrade?