The Tablet Conundrum – Part 9 - Geek Guru
 

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The Tablet Conundrum – Part 9

 

In this edition of the Geek Guru Blog, we explore the capabilities and benefits of Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi Direct.

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It really goes without saying that all tablets made now need some form of internet connection to be used to their full potential. Most achieve this through a Wi-Fi connection (or 3G/4G mobile data connection which we’ll discuss in a later post). It’s important to consider this when purchasing a tablet – if you or your business don’t have access to a wireless router or wireless access point, you’ll need to purchase one or use another device (such as a smartphone sharing its data connection in “hotspot” mode) to provide a wireless connection to really get the most out of your tablet, if it’s Wi-Fi-only.

GPS is another function found on many tablets, but it’s not as popular as it is on smartphones, simply because it’s rarer for tablets to have a constantly available data connection (especially if they are WiFi only) in order to use apps like Google Maps. Some software that pre-downloads maps to the tablet’s storage is available though, and can make your tablet a good replacement for a GPS navigation system, or a good backup in case your current GPS system is lost, broken or incorrect.

NFC is again a technology that’s really only recently begun to take hold, and is currently featured more on smartphones than it is on tablets, although it has made an appearance on some, such as on the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013 editions) and the Nexus 10. NFC stands for Near-Field Communication, and it allows you to hold the device up to an NFC enabled information point, often in public areas such as bus stops or museums, and retrieve relevant data such as timetables or information about the exhibits you’re viewing. You can also hold NFC devices near to each other to exchange information or initiate links through Wi-Fi Direct (see below).  While this can be a useful feature, again most of the time it requires an always-on data connection in order to download information from the internet. NFC can also be used to make automatic payments or identify yourself – Some bus journeys and parking meters around the world are NFC-enabled to make it possible to pay with the NFC function and an app on your device (similar to how contactless card payments work currently).

Wi-Fi Direct, whilst being available since 2008, has only really started to come into mainstream use since 2011 and is becoming increasingly popular in smartphones and tablets. It allows devices to communicate using their Wi-Fi connections without having a wireless access point. Typically, the devices can “pair” to each other using Bluetooth or NFC first for security, and then the Wi-Fi Direct connection is negotiated, typically over WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) Bluetooth or NFC. This process is mostly automated, making it simple for less tech-savvy users, and the data transfer speed is usually much higher than your standard Bluetooth connection. It’s worth considering if you have devices you need to transfer large files between without access to a computer, or if you regularly share files with colleagues, friends or family members via your tablets or smartphones.

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Next up on the Geek Guru Blog, Bluetooth and its associated peripherals!

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 05800845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Posted on by Emily
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