What is Wi-Fi?

POSTED BY Dave IN Laptops, Software ON 2 Sep 2008

What is Wi-Fi?

Even if you have a rough idea of what Wi-Fi does, more or less, you still might be at a loss if you had to answer a question regarding the subject. For example, you might be using Wi-Fi right now and not even know it, or what it is, exactly.

So, below, we’ll get into…

What, Exactly, is Wi-Fi

thumbs wifi logo What is Wi Fi?Wi-Fi is actually the trade name of a certain type of wireless technology. Wi-Fi is most often used in home and office networks, video gaming, and mobile phones. Almost every modern PC and Macintosh operating system supports Wi-Fi connectivity, and so do most modern printers and other peripherals (to save the hassle of dealing with cables and wires). Most of the current generation of video game consoles connect with Wi-Fi as well, including the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS. Wi-Fi is popular as a way for portable game system users to connect within a certain physical distance of one another.

Wi-Fi is basically just a very convenient alternative to using a mass of tangled wires to transfer information from computer to computer, computer to peripheral, or video gamer to video gamer. Using Wi-Fi eliminates the need for switches, plugs, sensitive and fragile connectors and pins, wiring, cables, etcetera. It is simply a very easy way to connect electronic devices.

Another upside is that, within one household, several computers can be online at once. There still may be some lag, as there will always be when several20users are transferring information on the same internet connection all at once, but there won’t be an issue with a lack of ports and so on.

Hotspots

A Wi-Fi hotspot is an area where Wi-Fi based connectivity is provided to the internet or a network. Many coffee shops and libraries, for example, may be Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing visitors to work online or play video games with players in other countries while visiting the area, though a hotspot can be as small as a single room. A hotspot could also cover several square miles. Anyone who leaves their wireless internet connection unlocked by password can host a hotspot.

Wi-Fi can also work in so called peer-to-peer mode, wherein electronic devices connect directly to one another, rather than through the internet. For example, two Nintendo DS gamers could play a game together without an internet connection, or even download video game demos from download stations at a game store. Likewise, two cell phone users, depending on the model, could trade information or talk to one another directly through P2P Wi-Fi rather than by using a network.

Downsides

If there’s one major downside to Wi-Fi connectivity, it is that wireless connections tend to use more power than wire based connections. Depending on the amount of usage, this may be a marginal difference, but if you leave a Wi-Fi object on all day for example, it could really put a dent in a power bill (or eat up your batteries pretty quickly).

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