Plenty of people buy a PC to crunch numbers, scan photos, or cultivate their kids’ hand-eye coordination. But for millions of people, Reason One for using a PC is to get on the Internet. Few computer features have the potential to change your life as profoundly as the web and email.
There are all kinds of ways to get a PC onto the Internet these days:
WiFi. Wireless hotspots, known as WiFi, are glorious conveniences, especially if you have a laptop or a tablet. Without stirring from your hotel bed, you’re online at high speed. Sometimes for free.
Cable modems, DSL. Over half of the U.S. Internet population connects over higher-speed wires, using broadband connections that are always on: cable modems, DSL, or corporate networks. (These, of course, are often what’s at the other end of an Internet hotspot.)
Cellular modems. A few well-heeled individuals enjoy the go-anywhere bliss of USB cellular modems, which get them online just about anywhere they can make a phone call. These modems are offered by Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and so on, and usually cost $60 a month.
Tethering. Tethering is letting your cellphone act as a glorified Internet antenna for your PC, whether connected by a cable or a Bluetooth wireless link. The phone company charges you maybe $20 a month extra for this convenience.
Dial-up modems. It’s true: Some people still connect to the Internet using a modem that dials out over ordinary phone lines. They get cheap service but slow connections, and their ...