Buyers’ guide: internet dongle
One of the first things that you need to look around for if you’re interested in mobile broadband will be the humble internet dongle. There is seemingly no end to the array of best deals and offers on cheap mobile broadband here in the UK, but no matter how much comparison you do, you’re still going to need to think about internet dongles too.
Of course, you may be heading for a tablet purchase instead, which means that you won’t need to compare pay-as-you-go internet dongles or contract options either. It’s certainly possible to enjoy the mobile internet on a tablet device, but for many computer chores, a laptop or netbook still makes a good choice.
However, if it’s a regular mobile broadband package you’re after, which uses a laptop or netbook computer to connect to the mobile web using a wireless internet dongle then you’ll definitely want to do a comparison of prices and read some reviews before you buy.
Which internet dongle?
It may be the case that you already own a laptop or netbook, but haven’t yet invested in a 3G broadband deal or offer in order to get connected to the wireless broadband supply that has become so plentiful in the UK over the last few years. Alternatively, you may well have a 3G internet connection on your laptop or netbook but want to get a better deal.
Laptop internet offers do abound, but it’s well worth doing a little bit of comparison and read up on customer reviews of dongles, laptops and Wi-Fi within the Broadband Genie website before you commit to a purchase. After all, brands such as 3 Mobile, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and Orange all offer internet dongle pay-as-you-go deals but one offer might be very different to the next.
It’s all about deciding what you want to do with a wireless internet dongle, because if you’re a relatively lightweight web user then there’s little point in buying yourself a mobile internet dongle that delivers 3G broadband in a much higher specification package than you’ll ever require.
Mobile Internet dongle pay-as-you-go deals and offers can often be the wise choice for 3G internet users who don’t need a ‘bells and whistles’ type of package, and often they can also be the cheapest too.
How do I pick an internet dongle?
If you want the freedom of an internet dongle and mobile broadband connectivity then you’ll first need to spend time looking at the comparison table above. That will give you the best pointers on what to expect from a 3G internet dongle. Laptop internet using internet dongle deals isn’t seen as a complete replacement fro a traditional ADSL or cable broadband supply though.
You should remember that although a USB internet dongle connected to your laptop or netbook supplies connectivity to the web end email, but it's not quite as fast or efficient as home based broadband deals and offers.
However, the plus points about having an internet dongle on contract, or perhaps a succession of pay-as-you-go internet dongles, means that you’re free to enjoy online access pretty much wherever you go.
With PAYG you’re also afforded the luxury and convenience of no contract either, although internet dongle deals on a contract basis can often be little bit more flexible so consider that point if you’re a heavier user of the mobile internet. Either way, the mobile internet dongle works along the same lines whatever the package, hooking up to an available USB port on your machine.
How do I get an internet dongle?
Getting an internet dongle really is the easy bit, no matter if it’s a 3 internet dongle or an Orange internet dongle or, for that matter, one from any of the other mobile providers. All you need to do is use our comparison table above in order to search for the available UK options that are open to you.
You’ll find that there are a handful of main search topics to pick from, including the setup cost if any. There might not be any setup charge at all if you’re looking at some internet dongle deals. If you’re thinking of going for an internet dongle on contract then it’s likely that there will be a monthly price to factor in. Added to that, you’ll want to check the contract length too.
An internet dongle on contract can start from as little as one month these days, which is pretty good if you don’t want to be tied into a lengthy legal deal, although other mobile internet dongle options might need you to sign on the dotted line for up to two years. With that sort of time period in mind it’s all the more important to check that the deal or offer you like is going to be right for your needs.
Internet dongle considerations
Other areas to consider when pondering over mobile internet dongles is the speed factor and also the download limits of any deal or offer that you have seen. When it comes to speed offered by a wireless internet dongle then remember that there will often be advertisements by mobile providers that suggest speeds of ‘up to’ a certain level.
The reality of the situation is that it may well be slower than you expected, and this can be down to number of different factors, such as coverage, the amount of network traffic or people tapping into the mobile broadband supply, and also geographical location.
It’s a good idea to use the tools within the Broadband Genie site in order to carry out basic checks, such as possible speed estimations and also the sort of coverage you can hope to get from any of the mobile internet services that have made it to your shortlist.
The same can be said for download quotas too. Remember that the mobile broadband internet is very good for a lot of things, but it still isn't really up to downloading huge amounts of data. Different deals have different allowances, but make sure that you read the terms and conditions in relation to how much content you can download (and upload) to ensure that it will be enough for what you want to do.
Internet dongle prices
While price is one of the most searched for aspects when people are looking for their internet dongles, it’s important to remember that cheapest deals and offers do have their drawbacks. If you go for the cheapest mobile internet dongle that you can find, you may well discover that there’s a lot less that you can do with it.
The lower priced mobile broadband packages tend to come with a lot more restrictions, and pay-as-you-go internet dongles generally have lower download quotas that come with them and also won’t work if you need to take them farther afield. However, at the same time, using an internet dongle abroad is generally considered to not be that great an idea because it’ll often cost a lot of money.
Indeed, many internet dongles don’t even work overseas anyway, but if you do have one that seems okay then be sure that you have read the terms and conditions pertaining to a mobile provider’s ‘roaming’ rates or you could end up being clobbered by very high charges. You’d be far better off either tapping into cheap or even free Wi-Fi at an outlet somewhere or going to an internet café.
Other internet dongle ideas
If you’ve got family and friends who also want to tap into he mobile broadband internet that you plan to get yourself kitted out with then have you considered trying a MiFi? These great little devices are slowly becoming more common and offer up a neat twist on sharing a mobile broadband account.
You buy the MiFi device, which works in a similar kind of way to a router in your home. This then allows you to share your mobile broadband signal with other users, often including up to five machines or so. The only downside to this is that the more users who are logged into your mobile broadband account then the more strain you’ll put on it.
Also, remember that download quotas can be used up much more rapidly by sharing out your allocation in this way. You may find that, especially if you have children who endlessly download content from the internet, that you are soon munching your way through even the most generous of data allowances. It’s factors like that which you really need to take into consideration when comparing all of the features in any internet dongle deal.
Using Mobile Broadband Genie
Armed with this information, you should now be able to surf the site with confidence. Scroll back up to the top of this page for a look at the current top 10 deals as ranked by sales popularity through the site, taken from our own independent stats.
If you need more help deciding, our customer reviews may give you some important pointers. Lookout for offers and deals too, and remember that you may get a free dongle on some packages.