My Internet connection can be spotty at times, and when it goes down, my productivity suffers (or my Tweets, Facebook sharing, mail, etc.). One of the more innovative things some smartphones can do is to become modems themselves, using the phone’s 3G or wireless signal to play the part of a modem (also called “tethering“).
This feature varies depending on your Internet service plan & cell phone provider, and I have only tried tethering with my HTC Hero from Sprint. However, when my Internet goes down, tethering is the next best thing.
But you ask, if I need Internet access, why not just use the phone itself? Well, you can certainly do a lot of things on a phone’s screen, but for some things you need the screen real estate only a netbook or laptop can provide. Besides, you may need to know this eventually, right?
You can tether your Android mobile device to your computer via an application called PdaNet. There are several tools that do the same thing, but PdaNet is fairly easy to set up and use. Download PdaNet to your laptop from http://www.junefabrics.com/android/ and to your phone via the Android Market. You’ll also need an USB cable to connect your computer to your phone.
Once you download it to both devices, go to your phone’s settings–this is the only geeky part of the set up–and check “enable USB debugging” before you tether. That’s it. When you’re ready to try, click the PdaNet icon tray and connect it to your mobile device and you’re set. The download/upload speed will vary, depending on your phone’s signal strength, but overall it’s fairly decent.
In a pinch, it doesn’t get better than this. If you have a favorite way to tether your phone, or recommend an app that works for you, please let us know!