Today we have two things to talk about; Vista Service Pack 2 and how to get cheap broadband
Starting off with Vista; If you have this Operating System you would be advised to download the Service Pack from www.microsoft.com or via Windows Update as along with fixing hundreds of little bugs and glitches it also adds a number of new features. Most notable changes include support for Via Technologies new Nano 64-Bit CPU, support for Bluetooth 2.1, BluRay writing directly from the OS and better performance for WiFi connections.
This update is 348mb in size meaning that you would really need to be on a broadband connection to consider the download; this leads me neatly on to my next point.
I was contacted this week by a reader who was still using a dial up connection. I had thought that this group of die-hard dial-ip users had disbanded and joined the rest of us in the 21st century, but it would appear that I was mistaken. Try as I might, I cannot rationalise in my own head why someone would still be using dial-up; It's temperamental, slow, means you can't use your phone line, and if you need to use it regularly it can work out very expensive.
In order to reach out to these users (and indeed anyone currently on an overpriced broadband package) I thought it prudent to overview the cheapest broadband packages on the market; these are a perfect stepping stone from dial. The following recommendations are suited primarily to light Internet users and as such I would not recommend them for intensive use such as gaming or heavy downloading.
Sky TV - Sky TV customers can get free 2Mbps Broadband with a 2GB usage limit when they also subscribe to Sky Talk (the most basic of which is free) for the phone calls. Of course you still have to pay your line rental to BT, as you would with dial up. Whilst 2GB isn't a very bandwidth limit, it will be pleanty for most home users and is much more than what could be downloaded in a month using dial-up.
Talk Talk - Talk Talk is £6.49 a month in addition to your usual line rental and includes 8GB Broadband, a 40GB usage limit, free local calls and free national weekend and evening calls. The company has had a fair amount of bad press over the last couple of years mainly due to its unprecedented growth since its incorporation in 2003 but things seemed to have improved of late. If the planned merger with Tiscali goes ahead, TalkTalk will become the largest broadband provider to home users in the UK.
Tiscali - For £14.99 a month including your monthly line rental you can get up to 8GB broadband and unlimited free weekend calls. As BT would usually charge you around £12 for your line rental you are basically getting a reasonable broadband package for less than ١ a month.
PlusNet - If you don't fancy the idea of having your telephone calls handled by your broadband provider, the PlusNet Value package at £5.99 a month is an extremely competitive standalone package. With speeds up to 8Mbps, a 10GB daily download limit and an unlimited evening download limit the PlusNet deal is also surprisingly fully featured.
Before committing to a broadband package it might be an idea to first check out www.moneysupermarket.com to compare a number of other deals on the market. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don't levy a set of charge all of them will provide the equipment you require and many of them will even chuck in a free wireless router; There is no real reason to stay on dial-up.
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges, toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at www.computerarticles.co.uk.