Some hotels are greedy and charge for internet connectivity, or even worse they limit internet to a single wired connection per room - like the hotel I'm staying in right now. They only have a single Ethernet cable in the room and no WiFi.
Fortunately I'm using a MacbookPro which makes it's fairly easy to share the internet connection with my iPhone and iPad. Just turn on Internet Sharing and the built-in Airport will act like a wireless access point that you can connect to from any wireless device, just like you would connect to your wireless home network.
Here's the step-by-step:
1. Make sure an Ethernet cable is plugged into your Mac and you can browse the web.
2. Make sure your Airport is also turned on, by clicking the wireless icon in your menu bar and selecting "Turn Airport On".
3. Open System Preferences (click the Apple icon on the menu bar and you'll see it as a menu option) and select "Sharing".
4. Click "Internet Sharing" and make sure "Ethernet" is selected in the "Share your connection from" dropdown, and "Airport" is selected in the "To computers using" listbox.
5. Click "Internet Sharing" one more time and you'll be asked if you're sure you want to turn on Internet Sharing. Click "Start" to turn it on and start sharing your internet connection with your iPhone or iPad.
That's all it takes to share your Mac's internet connection and then you'll be able to connect your iPad or iPhone to it the same way you'd connect to any other wireless network.
Netflix lets you watch movies on your TV using your Wii and also on your computer using InstantWatch, which relies on Silverlight technology from Microsoft.
It works great through the Wii but it's pathetically slow on a computer with Silverlight (which I am convinced is the problem). You can expect to wait 5 - 10 minutes to load up the movie when using Netflix on your Mac or PC computer, and you can expect to wait another 5 - 10 minutes for the movie to "buffer" itself at least twice during the movie.
I've tried it on both Windows and Mac computers using both Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer browsers. Same results. It's definitely a problem with the Silverlight viewer and not the Netflix streaming service because it works great when viewing movies on your TV using a Wii.
Netflix movies fortunately still load very fast on an iPad using the Netflix app from iTunes. It took only a few seconds to load up a movie on my iPad, and I didn't experience any of the slow buffering problems that plague the PC/Mac viewer.
Once the movie was loaded on my iPad, it played almost instantly with no additional buffering. I was able to fast forward and it was able to play from the new position almost immediately - a task that leaves you waiting 5 - 10 minutes for buffering when using Netlix on your computer.
But the iPad solution is not without it's flaws. Netflix movies run faster on iPads but the quality has gone way down. Here's a clip from Surrogates starring Bruce Willis where 5 surrogate policemen are killed by a weapon that zaps their optical sockets.
You can see how bitmapped the clip looks. It's about like viewing a Youtube video which is just one step above completely unacceptable for action shots.
According to Apple only a "very small number of iPad users have experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity", and that a patch is on the way, yet I see articles all over the web that indicate the problem is much wider spread.
Sure enough, the iPad I brought home just yesterday was also having problems connecting to the same Wi-Fi network that my other devices and computers have connected to for months without problems.
Turn off wireless security
The only reliable, guaranteed fix for connecting my ipad to my Linksys home wireless network was to disable security.
At first I was able to get my ipad to connect to my Linksys WRT120N Wi-Fi router without problems, but not when I tried it again after the iPad had been on stand-by. It recognized the wireless network and would appear to connect, but then would lose the IP address within a few seconds (instead giving me a bogus address of 169.254.108.158).
You can check your ipad's network settings by tapping Settings -- Wi-Fi and then tapping the blue arrow next to the Network you're connecting to. You will typically see an IP address that starts with 192.168 instead of 169.254, and most of the other network fields should have values (Subnet Mask, Router, DNS, etc).
I tried several things that I've listed below, but the only thing that really worked was to turn off wireless security for my Linksys router. It's not as big of a risk as you might think, because my wireless router signal hardly even makes it out to the edge of my small backyard.