You may or may not be aware that we were away for two weeks of relaxation in early January to the island of Maui. Maui continues to be our favorite place to go and unwind and we are still looking at ways of expanding Sysguy to the Valley Island! If you have never been there, I highly recommend a minimum 10 day visit, as anything else is too short! Whales and Dolphins were jumping and the whole family had a great times and there were some tears as we boarded our Westjet flight to return home! If you are interested in more of the trip, I will soon be posting more on my personal blog (the link is on this page) in the very near future as well as pictures on my photo gallery.
While I didn’t do a lot of “work” while I was away, I had the opportunity to have an extended test of some peripherals that I use on a regular basis to see how they worked out.
The first was my Linksys Wireless G Travel Router. This device is slightly bigger than a deck of cards, comes in it’s own case and has in internal AC adaptor. This little dvice is always in my bag and really has come in handy. It allows me to do a couple of things. The router works as most home routers do offering firewall and shared wireless access, but this router does a couple of things that other travel routers do not.
Firstly, the AC adaptor for the unit is built right into it. There is a little slide on the top of the device to side out the two prongs and plug the router into a wall outlet or extension cord. This makes it a little lighter and less bulky to travel with.
Another feature that I find is a bonus with this router is that there is 2 RJ45 ports on it. One for a hardwired Cable or DSL modem connection the other for laptops or even desktops and other devices. Most travel routers have one port that you can either plug into a cable modem and use the device as a router, or plug into your hardwired ethernet card on a machine and use it as a wireless client but you can’t do both. With the Linksys one port can be plugged into a cable router and the other can be used for a other devices. For example I used my Linksys Vonage phone adaptor on this port (but more about this later).
Something else I have used from time to time is the routers ability to connect to a wireless network (unsecured only) as it’s primary ethernet (internet) connection. I have used this often in hotels to connect to their wireless internet services and then boost that signal into my room or unit. Another scenario where this can come in handy is if you have a group of people working together, they can connect to a secured wireless network (your own from the Linksys) and share data back and forth and yet still have Internet access on theier own PC’s . This gives you an additional firewall between the PC’s and the hotel or providors Internet Connection.
OVer two weeks the little device was rock solid! It provided enough signal strength so that I had wireless access from any where in our 1100 foot condo and the lanai and fron balcony. Other than a few problems on the first set up and resetting it once (unplug and plug in), it was stable for the rest of the two weeks with no dropped connections. As well my Vonage phone worked very well.
Vonage Phone Adaptor
For almost two years now, our main business line has been a Vonage Canada line. In going away, although we had our US based Tracfones, taking the Vonage phone didn’t take much room. The Linksys adaptor is fairly small, again a little bigger than a deck of cards, but it has a separate AC adaptor, and the only other thing I took was a GE cordless phone and base to use. I probably could have skipped on carrying the phone and picked up a cheap one there but the GE is fairly small and I would have it right away. The main goal of taking the adaptor was to give clients and family a number to call where they would not incur long distance and where we could call home with ringing up long distance bills. I pay 19.95 a month for Vonage, for the call sevices and 500 minutes of outgoing calls (local and long distance) and unlimited incoming calls. I also pay an additional 12.50 a month for a fax line and 250 minutes outgoing.
Set up was a breeze. Plug the Linksys adaptor into my travel router’s rj45 ethernet jack, plug in the phone handset and plug in the power. Boom a Calgary phone number. Performance was good and I think I only had one bad call (quality wise). Other than the time zones (3 hours behind) and an idiot in Edmonton who was calling a girl he met (hey, she gave you the wrong number, take a hint) shortly after we went to bed one night, I think I surprised a lot of people answering my line when they knew I was away!
If you travel a lot Vonage also offers a softphone service that has it’s own number and installs on a laptop. It costs about 12.95 a month. I may purchase this in the future but for now carrying hte adaptor was fine.
If you travel a lot, Vonage makes a lot of sense if you can access high speed internet. I used it to check cell phone messages (and save 1.75/min to check via the cell) and for a few calls home. The fax also came in handy as I needed something sent so I plugged the second line (fax) into my laptop’s modem, set it up to answer fax calls and left it. I received the fax I needed and was good.
My Vista Ultimate Laptop
While this wasn’t an extensive test I was using my new Vista Ultimate laptop (Asus Z62Fm). It was a little risky as I didn’t have any of my usual resources with me and available and I hadn’t done a lot of testing before leaving. The machine performed very well with one little scare when for some reason it wouldn’t boot but shutting it down and restarting solved the problem. I am discovered a few applications were a little flakey under Vista but it did with it had to. I was able to download pictures from our digital cameras, get email and surf the web. I will soon right a more detailed review of Vista but the biggest disappointment was not being able to get my little portable infrared printer working properly when I needed it.
The final little device I used, was my little Sony PSP. I am not a big gamer but I bought the device mainly for travelling and while sitting around waiting. When I bought the device I also picked up a 2 GB Sony Memory Stick Pro Card and a second battery and charger. On the 2 GB card I can put 2 to 3 DVD’s as well as pictures and movies (I have an 30 GB Creative Zen Vision M for music though). We flew Westjet so after about an 1.25 hours out of Vancouver we lost the Satellite TV system in the plane. I fired up my PSP and was able to watch 3 hour long TV shows I had recorded on my Media Center and converted to PSP format using Nero and SOny Media Manager. I also played a little of Tiger Woods 2007. All of this was on a single battery charge.
Once in Maui I used the device a couple of times but mainly when winding down at the end of the day or while waiting for the Mrs to finish her shopping! I did take it with me once to one of the golf courses I played and amused my self while I was waiting for the family to pick me up.
The PSP can be a nice little diversion if you do a fairbit of travelling as you can use it as a complete entertainment system, with a couple of Memory Stick Pro Cards.
All in all everything I took worked well. If you are interested in learning more about anything reviewed above let me know, if we can get the item we will or just give more information if you like.
Aloha for now!