Tablet PC is a communication device, one that depends on the internet. With major operators moving from unlimited data plan to capped data plan, we must find ways to get online for cheap. I have found five tips that you can use to cut your internet bills for your tablet PC. This includes Android Tablet and Apple iPad.
While the following tips are written for the UK market, I am sure that these tips can be used everywhere around the world.
WiFi only tablets
There are plenty of good reasons to opt for a WiFi-only tablet. Primary is price – they’re significantly cheaper than their mobile-network enabled siblings.
The new iPad Mini for example is £100 cheaper as WiFi only, while Google’s Nexus 7 is £40 less. And Microsoft’s Surface is WiFi only, so unnecessary does the tech giant consider network connectivity (to some serious eyebrow rising from critics and consumers alike).
WiFi only tablets are not quite as online limited as you may first think. Most cities and towns now have extensive WiFi coverage through services like BT Wi-fi (formerly Openzone), The Cloud and, free until 2013 on the London Underground, Virgin WiFi.
There are plenty of options on how to access and use these services, from hourly, daily and weekly rental to on-going monthly subscriptions that can come in cheaper than a SIM subscription depending on your usage. Many home broadband and mobile network providers also offer WiFi hotspot deals or free access as part of other contracts.
Free WiFi is also now ubiquitous in restaurants, cafes and bars nationwide – just turn on your tablet and see which signals are available and look out for the WiFi logo in windows.
Sites like MyHotspots show you where WiFi hotspots are located.
If there are no WiFi hotspots and you have a mobile phone, you may be able to get online using internet tethering to create a mobile hotspot. By connecting your tablet to your mobile phone over WiFi, Bluetooth or USB, the internet-connected phone can act as a portable wireless access point and router for your tablet.
Tethering is a feature not every smartphone owner will be aware of. Perhaps because many mobile operators have either barred or charged extra for it, or simply don’t mentioned it at all – fearful that it may impact on mobile dongle sales.
Tethering is quick and easy way to get your tablet online. It’s now available on most Android, Blackberry and Apple mobile phones and all operators offer it, although not on every tariff and some only as bolt-ons. If you’re in doubt as to whether tethering is included in your tariff, check with your network operator.
Some of the best current plans with tethering include the Three’s The One Plan and Orange Panther, tethering on Vodafone and O2 is allowed on all tariffs.
If you’re with a network provider that does charge for tethering, there are apps that fool your phone into thinking it’s not tethering, so you can use your standard contract without paying the tethering charge. PdaNet runs on all mobile platforms and offers a free trial before you need to buy the full version for $15.95.
The other option is to pick up a MiFi device, which acts as a personal hotspot that you can connect any WiFi enabled devices. These are available on pay month contracts starting at £15.99 a month for 5GB data or single month deals from £50 with 1GB of data . You can also use some such as the Huawei E589 Mobile WiFi from EE, to access 4G services.
WiFi + 3G/4G tablets
The other option is to forsake the need for tethering, apps, extra MiFi devices and relying on WiFi spots and instead go for a network-enabled tablet with 3G or 4G connectivity. You simply need to decide if the extra initial cost and reduced hassle balances against your need to get online all the time.
As with your mobile phone, these are available from network providers or unlocked direct from the manufacturer, so you can marry them to a SIM-only deal.
Most of the tips above do involve purchasing additional devices, however, there are some that you can do without purchasing. I am sure most of us already have our own smartphones, these can be used as directed above to share the internet connection. By sharing the internet connection with the smartphone, you are also sharing the internet bills, effectively cutting your internet bills in half.
All tablets do come with WiFi option, therefore it is possible to simply find free hotspots in your area and connect the tablet to the WiFi there. I am sure nothing beats free.
I hope you find the above tips useful. If you have additional tips, you can write it in the comment box below.