Once upon a time the world was very simple, your phone made calls and if you wanted to go online, you sat at home (or work) and listened to the slow and dulcet tones of the dial-up connection. Things have changed, a lot, and the lines of communication have been completely blurred: You can chat on your laptop, surf the Internet on your phone and watch films on your tablet. Great, but with all this choice comes more decisions; how do you choose between one technology and another (unless you’ve got them all) and what’s the best mobile broadband deal for your particular needs?
Finding the cheapest and most efficient way to access the Internet on the move is totally dependent on the way you use your tech. Laptops and Smartphones work in pretty much the same way. For moderate users, who just check their emails, look at Facebook and read a few web pages, Pay as You Go options may suffice. If you’re downloading lots of data, such as music and films, then a contract’s probably best – make sure you choose one that covers calls (if it’s for a phone) and Internet usage, one with unlimited data allowance is ideal. If you don’t want to buy new kit – which can be expensive – many contracts throw in the phone or laptop for free.
Best for people who want an all-in-one piece of kit that fits in their pocket; Smartphones are perfect for updating your Twitter feed, checking your emails and (obviously) making calls. There are designs and features to suit all-types of user with contracts that can be tailored to your specific requirements.
Mobile Internet access is built in, supplied by the phone service provider – make sure you check the coverage in your area.
For a bit more functionality, ideal for working on the move, plus the option to watch TV shows and films, a laptop’s probably best. In most cases you’ll need a dongle to access mobile broadband, which plugs into the USB port.
Probably not the cheapest way to get mobile broadband, but definitely the coolest; tablets are fast becoming the tech of choice for the serious gadget buff. Leading the way is Apple’s iPad, but 2011 should see various alternatives coming to the market.
Great usability and good looks are the order of the day, with on-the-move Internet courtesy of an iPad SIM – like a miniature phone SIM. USB ports would ruin this tablet’s sleek lines, so no room for a dongle. Make sure your iPads a 3G version; if it’s not, you won’t be able to access the Internet using mobile broadband, only Wi-Fi.
At the moment contracts are few and far between, so you’ll probably have to stump up the cash to buy a tablet outright and get the net via Pay as You Go.
To help you choose the best mobile broadband deal and device to suit you, visit your local phone shop or go online and use impartial comparison sites, such as Broadband Genie.
Jessica Lowe writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the independent website where you can compare broadband, mobile broadband and smartphones.