I'm with the Hotspot crowd. I've tried it all tethering, dongle, "borrowing" wifi, hotspot etc etc and found the hotspot to be the most convenient. My solution for the TouchPad was to tether it to the Galaxy Tab. The Galaxy Tab now has software installed for an always-on WiFi hotspot, so I don't need to fiddle around at all.
It doesn't appear to be a big drain on the battery of the Galaxy Tab either. Of course, this solution means I need to carry two tablets around. I also much prefer using hotspot as well. Don't really use my laptop all that much these days and given that mobile internet is my main source of internet access It makes much more sense for me. It's usually plugged into the charger but on battery alone I can get about hours of constant use.
There's a customer site I work on that puts us in the middle of the building well below street level. I can put my hotspot in one of the few areas that get decent reception and work at my desk via wifi. Those who are tied to dongles are stuck with terrible reception. I had my phone with Vodafone for a long time and the mobile data reception was universally terrible.
It was good enough for routine syncing throughout the day, but that's it. So I'd carry my Telstra prepaid hotspot around in case I needed to get online with a reliable connection from either or both phone and laptop. When I get an iPad2, I'll be able to save the money on the 3G version by just getting a wifi version and using my hotspot. Finally, I have an old android phone with no sim in my car permanently on, trickle charged , which syncs to my wifi at home to auto-download podcasts.
If I need to use it on the road for navigation or whatever, again the hotspot comes out. I live in a high up apartment and all networks seem to struggle with the height, metal and glass. To make a phone call i leave the phone on my desk next to a window and talk on the bluetooth earpiece. I have been underwhelmed by Vodafone's pocket wifi but the telstra ultimate black wifi hotspot is fantastic.
I use it to get past vodafone's poor data signal on a commute and I also tie it into my iPad which already has a telstra sim in it, because it performs better than the ipad antenna for telstra data.
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That said, I would never buy a wifi only device with the intention of tethering to another device. It means you have two batteries to keep charged, two things to go wrong and more hassle. Nothing beats turning on the ipad and bang, you have internet. A wifi only ipad would really irratate me.
I would by a car without wheels before I buy an ipad without 3G.
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Yes it costs more, but when you work out the cost difference over 24 months, it is nothing. I got one of those Vodafail Pocket Wifi's on sale recently, the SIM works far better in my two year ex-Telstra dongle than the hotspot! Also, i tend to rely on the hotspot to conserve the battery life of my phone, as the phone also uses less power on wifi vs using mobile data. The hotspot running out of power isnt a major issue because I can always plug it into a usb port on my transformer having a tablet with a 16 hour battery life when docked does help :P.
Great thread. But in response to the third last comment Giz , if you're basically using a hotspot to get better battery life out of your phone, wouldn't you be better off just getting a spare battery for the phone? USB tethering on my Galaxy S2 is my preferred way. This is cheaper than a separate mobile plan. Because it's USB, my phone still charges, albeit very slowly. My laptop battery is still ok despite this. My complaint with all these devices is that you end up with a second bill.
I couldn't afford the extra monthly charge and ditched it. Now I tether my phone instead since I never manage to use the whole data capacity on it either. I was using the SIM in a built-in 3G device in my laptop and it worked really well. Shame I can't get a second SIM which draws from the same download capacity and doesn't bill in addition to my phone - it's much less convenient to get my phone out and switch the tether on all the time. Not exactly always on. So I always thought a hotspot would be the obviously preferable solution, but after using my iPhone for internet quite a bit, I much prefer USB tethering.
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With the phone plugged in, it is 3G only considering total power draw across devices. End result is that I'm able to be online for longer, which is the right outcome - USB tethering on the iPhone is noticeably faster than wifi tethering. I use both. Use a dongle and an Edimax. So if Im stuck in an area where there is poor reception I stick the dongle into the Edimax and viola a hotspot. Move it to an area of reception and away I go.
I can also connect more wifi devices if I want. The Edimax also has a dc plugback to keep it going all day if there is a power point handy. WiFi hotspot is my preference, if the hotspot device is actually usable. The crappy pocket MiFi devices from Optus, Vodafone and the ilk have opaque UIs: you get used to it after a while, but it's still hard to work with. Using the smartphone as a hotspot is better since you'll have the device with you anyway. My smartphone lives in a pocket on my backpack, so I'm not too concerned about radiation or heat.
What I am concerned about is battery life. I can USB-tether my phone to charge it, which is great when I'm sitting at a desk and don't have to worry about bumping things that are plugged into the USB ports. USB dongles don't support WiFi either, unless I turn on Internet sharing on the device using the dongle, which means another setting to fiddle with when I want to connect to a proper WiFi network. Usually I keep it in my backpack while I'm travelling and monitor the battery level and signal via the web interface.
I used to use the integrated 3G in my netbook Gigabyte TX and got about 4 hours from my laptop FF may have contributed to this. I get about 5 hours now using the hotspot could be coincidence after starting to use FF8b. Either way, I have 2 options for internet, doing WiFi tether with my phone using up the data on my phone's TPG mobile plan or using the hotspot to preserve my phone's data.
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Or if my phone is running real low on data, connecting my phone to my hotspot to ensure I don't have excess data charges. There is one sort of downside to the mobile hotspot, and that is how Optus charges for data usage 10MB blocks per connection session which isn't a huge issue as I usually use at least 10MB a session, although it's annoying when the Optus network has decided to be worse than usual. Is there a way to get around optus blocking hotspot on iPhone pre paid service or do I need to change carrier?? Angus Kidman and Alex Kidman. Oct 10, , am.
Australian Stories hotspots mobile broadband road worrier wi-fi. Stewart Walker Guest. Oct 10, , pm. TSH Guest. The PocketWiFi 2 can be run as hotspot or dongle.. Best of both worlds The Vodafone MHz network is currently in my area at least also surprisingly good. It's also dirt cheap, so you're not even paying all that much if at all extra. Mathew McBride Guest.
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