Testing, 1-2-3

Wondering if you can really get any work done at a Wi-Fi hot spot? We've got the answer.
This story first appeared in the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Showing up everywhere from gas stations to coffeehouses, Wi-Fi hot spots promise fast and easy Internet connections for on-the-go entrepreneurs. We tried three very different hot-spot locations to see how easy it really was.

Location: Blue Dragon Coffeehouse, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Wi-Fi system:WorkingWild
Cost: $2.95 per hour, $4.95 per day
Rating: out of 4 stars

Two out of three PCs ain't bad. I hauled in one Windows 98 laptop and two Windows XP tablet PCs during lunchtime. Even with a concerted effort from tech support, the 98 computer never made it online. Both XP machines were hooked up and enjoying the fast Internet connection immediately. The comfortable surroundings and low-key atmosphere were a huge plus, making it easy to focus on work.

Location: Doubletree Hotel, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Wi-Fi system:WayPort / Boingo
Cost: From $7.95 for two days to $49.95 per month of unlimited access
Rating: out of 4 stars

This took a little upfront preparation at Boingo.com, downloading the Wi-Fi software and signing up for the two-day plan. Access was available in the lobby, where I was swallowed up by a giant leather chair. Logging in for the first time was a little confusing but worked itself out on the Windows 98 laptop. However, I wasn't able to connect with the Windows XP laptop that didn't have the Boingo software installed. The space was boomy, with other's people's conversations echoing, but all in all, a pleasant experience.

Location: McDonald's, Midtown Manhattan
Wi-Fi System:Cometa Networks
Cost: 1 hour free with Extra Value Meal purchase
Rating: out of 4 stars

After I ordered my Chicken McNuggets and requested access, a friendly manager handed me a plastic card that explained the process and listed a toll-free technical assistance number. I pulled out my Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000 tablet PC with built-in wireless LAN capability. At first, my browser wouldn't open, so I called the 800 number. The technical rep helped me log on to check my e-mail, but I couldn't open my browser. When I walked to a busier section of the restaurant and tried again, I connected immediately. Overall, convenient and relatively easy to use.

View Comments (0)