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What's the best mobile internet setup?
February 26, 2013 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Is there any advantage to using a Verizon (or equivalent) 4G Hotspot over tethering a mobile phone?

I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon and tether sometimes with PDANet+.

Starting next month I'll need to tether a lot. I was planning on upgrading my data plan and just tethering with my phone but I wanted to explore other options. I'm open to alternatives to Verizon as well.

1. Is there any advantage to using a dedicated hotspot device over tethering a 4G capable device?
2. What's the best setup if I need to use a lot of data?

Just looking for some mefites recent, relevant, personal experiences!
posted by zephyr_words to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Possibly I'm being obtuse, but are you hypothetically intending to continue paying for a data plan on your phone in addition to paying for a 4G hotspot data plan for your laptop/tablet/whatever? Because that seems like an unnecessary expense compared to just tethering from the phone directly.

Or would you cancel data on the phone entirely and use wifi from the hotspot? In which case the tradeoff is it's that much more inconvenient to quickly get internet access on your phone.

If you open the VerizonMobile site and leave it sitting there long enough it usually prompts you to join livechat support. I have found that option to be far superior to calling or trying to navigate their stupid product pages, but it can be tricky to get to. They should be able to provide detailed info on pricing and data caps.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2013


My experience with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is that it's a battery hog all by itself and it's not going to last very long if you're tethering it. A mobile hotspot is a separate battery and is probably more efficient too. That said, if you have an external power source I think the phone does a better job of tethering. Verizon LTE is very fast and Android's tethering features are very good. Plus the phone can tether over either wifi or bluetooth and in some cases bluetooth tethering is better if you're in an area with a lot of overlapping wifi APs.

You could always buy a bigger battery or a second battery as well and even an external battery charger. Those will help with the battery life issue. or get one of those USB battery packs.
posted by GuyZero at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2013


I have a Verizon Galaxy Nexus with an extended battery and I've done some occasional tethering (of my wifi ipad) with it. It works great.

I even voluntarily gave up my grandfathered "unlimited data" plan in exchange for the 6GB "shared" plan. We've got 2 phones, and never come near 6GB per month combined; it costs the same as the 2 formerly-unlimited plans and comes with free legitimate tethering as part of the new pricing structure.

I've got a phone upgrade coming up, and was actually considering the idea of getting a new phone at upgrade price, immediately selling it (without activation) and spending the difference on a Nexus tablet, tethering off of the GNex and continuing to use the GNex as mostly "just a phone".
posted by jozxyqk at 10:25 AM on February 26, 2013


(Oh, and yes we have one of those 10000mAh USB battery chargers which I'd recommend if you're tethering a lot, even with the extended nexus battery)
posted by jozxyqk at 10:45 AM on February 26, 2013


My data plan is currently too small on the phones plan to tether with it for more than a few days a month.

I'm not too concerned about battery as when I'm tethering I'll be on a laptop which has USB ports which will charge my phone or hotspot.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:05 AM on February 26, 2013


I think the main advantage of a personal hotspot is that it is not your phone. This manifests itself in multiple ways. Separate battery to run down. No screen, more room for battery. Potentially better signal reception due to fewer constraints on antenna design. Can leave it in you bag and attach to an auxiliary battery. Option of choosing a different carrier due to price/coverage. Can be upgraded separately from phone. Can lend it to someone. Can only pay for service for months when you need it.

Personally, I end up tethering with my iPad LTE. Performance is good, battery life is great, and I usually have it with me any time I gave my computer. If I were you, and there isn't some other compelling reason for a hotspot, I'd use the phone.
posted by Good Brain at 12:40 PM on February 26, 2013


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