JiWire has released the Portable Hotspot Directory, a free version of the company's directory of WiFi hotspots that works without a live Internet connection. It comprises the JiWire hotspot database - currently almost 28,000 WiFi hotspots in 52 countries - and a simple search interface, and it runs as a standalone application on your laptop. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS 10.3 or later, and Linux.
The program lets you search for hotspots by country, city, zip code, or a combination of those criteria but does not permit searches by street address or intersection. You can filter your results by location type - cafe, truck stop, and disco are among the categories (disco?) - and by WiFi provider. You can also limit your search to free hotspots only. When you are connected to the Internet, the program can automatically download updates to the JiWire database, but, inconveniently, it asks you if you want to do that every time it starts up.
Location information on individual hotspots seems to be comprehensive, but there is often little cost or connection information for a given listing. And, of course, the database itself has limitations. It does not, for example, include dozens of free hotspots in New York City.
Though the download is free, a brief registration process is required.