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How I stay charged, connected at CES – USA TODAY


January 8, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Alternative Energy,Cloud Computing,DIY,DIY Project,Internet Of Things,Linux


Jefferson Graham and his camera walks you through the busy, ultra-crowded booths in the CES Central Hall. A #TalkingTech video tour.

LAS VEGAS—CES teaches hard lessons about preserving a phone, tablet or laptop’s battery life and connectivity, starting with this: If you value those things, don’t go to CES.

Having 175,000-plus people swarm around the city while constantly on e-mail, the Web, navigation apps and social networks will crumple wireless networks and leave batteries in the red.

Getting through all this takes advance preparation—the kind that can also help you get through lesser battery and bandwidth challenges.

• Cables and chargers: The first rule of CES is ABC: Always Be Charging. If you’re standing still or sitting down and you see an outlet, plug in your devices. But chaining yourself to an outlet is no way to cover the Consumer Technology Association’sconvention, so external phone battery packs are standard accessory here.

Your phone’s charger and battery pack should also support high-speed charging. Finally, when you’re next shopping for a phone, tablet or laptop, note that devices that charge over USB-C cables free you from having to remember to pack proprietary cables. In some cases, these allow you to not just charge a phone from a laptop or (non-Apple) tablet, but vice versa.

• Police your phone’s power usage: Both Android and iOS will show you which apps use the most power, in each case by opening the Settings app and then touching “Battery.” You probably won’t see any outliers there, but if you do then you should think about uninstalling them.

You may get more benefit from regulating the entire phone’s appetite for data. Disabling wireless data—in Android’s Settings app, tap “Data usage”; in iOS’s Settings, tap “Cellular”—will stretch the device’s battery life if you can get by with calls and texts. If your connection gets unusably slow, putting the phone in airplane mode will spare you the frustration of getting nowhere online but stop your phone from burning through its battery by trying to connect to the network over and over.

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Have backup bandwidth: Using your phone as a WiFi hotspot can bail you out of a struggling wireless network, but your service plan needs to support that option. Some prepaid services don’t, and the “unlimited” T-Mobile One plan that the carrier introduced last year and updated at CES limits tethering to 3G speeds, which will leave your laptop or tablet sputtering along at a few megabits per second instead of the 15 Mbps or more that LTE usually delivers.

Note that using your phone as a hotspot not only chews through your plan’s data allotment but will also hurt its battery life more than almost anything else you can do with it.

If you have cable Internet at home, you can also use free “Cable WiFi” hotspots at some half a million locations across the U.S. by signing in with your cable account’s user name and password.

• Use apps that let you switch between mobile devices: Having only one device get any connectivity happens too often at CES, making it important to use cloud-hosted apps that let me move between devices. For example, by taking notes in Evernote I can switch between my phone and my laptop (provided each device has enough bandwidth to synchronize my changes).

But if I start a story in Apple’s TextEdit app on my MacBook Air, I can’t do anything with it on my Android phone—or my iPad, if I were to carry it. Google Docs doesn’t have that hangup and even allows offline editing—but I had to start writing this column in TextEdit anyway, because the press-room WiFi was out at the time.

Rob Pegorarois a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.

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