Sign Up: Free Daily Tech E-letter  
Technology Home
Washtech
Tech Policy
Government IT
Markets
Columnists
   -Filter
   -Ask the Computer Guy
   -.com
   -Fast Forward
   -The Download
   -Web Watch
   -@Work
Personal Tech
Special Reports
Jobs

Advertisement
Company Postings
Get Quotes
Press Releases
Tech Almanac
Page 2 of 3    < Back        Next >
Fast Forward by Rob Pegoraro
We'd Like a Bit More, For a Little Less

Advertisement


_____Live Online_____
Monday, 2 p.m. ET: Rob Pegoraro will be online to talk about his latest columns on Verizon Wireless's BroadbandAccess service and e-mail technology.
____ISP Directory____
Click Here for ISP Guide Feature Story: Servers Add to the Menu: Post reporter Mike Musgrove reports that Internet service providers are piling on the freebies to win customers.

Find an ISP: Cable | DSL | Local National | Satellite | Wireless


_____Recent Columns_____
The Rightness Of Lightness (The Washington Post, Jul 11, 2004)
Linux, Still an Awkward Alternative (The Washington Post, Jul 4, 2004)
Ah, the Sound, but Oh, the Bumps on the Road to Digital Radio (The Washington Post, Jun 27, 2004)
Fast Forward Archive
_____Personal Tech_____
Full Section
Fast Forward
Web Watch
Ask the Computer Guy
Reviews
_____Free E-letter_____
Sign Up Now: In his Fast Forward weekly e-letter, Personal tech editor Rob Pegoraro keeps you posted on the latest gear and gadgets (Delivered every Monday).
Add Fast Forward to your personal home page.

E-Mail This Article
Print This Article

But streaming media, such as Web radio stations and video feeds, immediately show the limits of dial-up connections.

Just listen to the different audio streams provided by the Seattle alternative radio station KEXP (www.kexp.org). Its 20 Kbps Windows Media stream sounds like bad AM -- acceleration can't help this tightly compressed data -- and its 56 Kbps MP3 stream barely competes with a clock radio.

Only KEXP's 96 Kbps Windows Media or MP3 streams equal what you'd hear from a good home or car stereo. So if you want to rock out online, budget for at least 128 Kbps and preferably 256 Kbps of download speed.

Video sucks up even more bandwidth -- over dial-up, you'll usually get tinny, no-fi audio and blurry, blotchy footage. For this, get 384 Kbps or faster.

Want to play online games or work remotely from home? You'll need still more download velocity, 600 Kbps or faster, and upload speeds of 128 Kbps or above.

There are few compelling reasons for home users to pay for speeds much faster than that. It's like splurging on the fastest available PC -- will you actually notice the extra power if nobody reminds you about it?

Then there's the issue of how often you log on each day -- and in this respect, broadband shuts down dial-up. Its "always on" nature is what I appreciate most often.

There is no wait for a modem to squawk and screech its way through setting up the connection; your computer is silently and constantly linked to the Internet for the next time you want to read your e-mail, send an instant message or check an eBay listing.

Keeping a second phone line for dial-up use is no answer -- it'll push your Internet-access costs past those of most broadband plans.

If you do decide that the math favors broadband, what kind should you get? Geography may make that decision for you.

< Back    1 2 3     Next >
Print This Article


TechNews.com Home

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Company Postings: Quick Quotes | Tech Almanac
About TechNews.com | Advertising | Contact TechNews.com | Privacy
My Profile | Rights & Permissions | Subscribe to print edition | Syndication