Portable WiFi Devices or WiFi Hotspot Software? Pick What's Right for You

Guest ContributorShare Internet Connection, Travel

What Is Better – a WiFi Hotspot Device or Using Your Laptop Computer as a Virtual Router?

Wanna go traveling but can’t imagine your journey without the Internet? Who can? A thoughtfully picked WiFi hotspot will solve all the connection issues in any spot of the world. The choice is between a stand-alone device and hotspot software.

Portable WiFi devices and WiFi hotspot software have become essential for every traveler. Numerous buyers have already benefited from this or that purchase, and plenty of information about hotspots can be found online. Manufacturers keep tailoring their products to meet all the customers’ needs: Internet search, hanging out in social media, accessing content with no limitations, etc.

The choice, however, is not simple. Sometimes, a fast and reliable Internet connection is essential in the most distant corners of the world. But it can also happen that you need to share WiFi you have already got in a hotel room. So, different goals require different solutions. The significant aspects of choosing a WiFi hotspot are particular and precise. You can evaluate how each of them meets your requirements and fits your lifestyle.

Stand-Alone WiFi Hotspot Devices or Software: About Internet Networks and Speeds

5G networks are something new to WiFi hotspot devices developers. But there are already several devices that can support them. Sprint HTC 5G Hub is a vivid example of this group. Like most 5G devices, it can work with 4G networks as well because sometimes, it is the most advanced one provider can offer.

Simpler and, what can be vital, cheaper devices work only with 4G LTE speeds, which is often more than enough. Huawei E5573Cs-509 does the job as a 4G LTE Mobile WiFi.

One of the things to consider when going with a portable WiFi hotspot device is whether the devices are network locked. If so, they can be totally useless when traveling abroad.

On the other hand, mobile hotspot software has a wide range of supported connection types: cellular (3G, 4G, 5G), wired Ethernet, and, of course, WiFi. You can use either of these on your laptop or computer to share the Internet with your other devices. You can even combine your available connections for faster, more stable and secure Internet. This way, software apps, like Connectify Hotspot, give you more freedom.

Number of Devices to Connect and the Quality of
Connection

An average 4G WiFi hotspot can connect up to 10 devices or less. If this is sufficient for you, Skyroam Solis is what you are searching for. But if you are on the journey with your family, a group of friends, or coworkers, you can face specific difficulties sharing the Internet connection with everyone. More expensive mobile WiFi hotspots can connect up to 20 other devices. Huawei E5788 can connect up to 32! This is very convenient for a group whose trip highly depends on the Internet connection or when there are really a lot of people.

As opposed to stand-alone WiFi routers, Connectify Hotspot can support more connected devices. Of course, you have to have a pretty solid Internet connection to share it with multiple devices in the first place. And if you’re sharing a hotel WiFi connection, they will see all your traffic as a single flow, so their device limitations won’t bother you either.

As mentioned above, the Internet speed will inevitably be slower when you connect more users at once. On the other hand, it still depends on your purpose. Working on a presentation together won’t cause any difficulties, while some traffic- consuming sources may slow down the entire group’s work.

But no matter what, you should also think about online security, especially when traveling. Remember that sometimes it is safer to use a cellular connection than public WiFi. Luckily, Connectify and most portable WiFi devices use WPA2-PSK encryption. This ensures that your simple browsing won’t turn into enormous problems for your device or compromise your online privacy.

Battery Life – Portable WiFi Devices vs. WiFi Software

So you can use the Internet to play games, scroll social media feeds, live stream, and watch videos. But wait, your portable WiFi hotspot battery is low! It won’t happen if you pay attention to this feature before buying it.

The battery capacity is the #1 aspect to consider when going for a portable WiFi device. Ranging from 3,000 mAh up to 7,500mAh (!) in their capacity, this will do if you want your device to work for a whole day. For instance, the Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L has 4,400 mAh battery capacity and can keep going for 24 hours without charging.

But there is more to think of if you know there will be no opportunity to charge your device for a really long time. An additional battery is a great idea, so make sure that your portable hotspot device has a removable battery. If not, don’t buy devices with the low capacity in the first place, or at least check if they can be recharged from a power bank.

Interestingly, some portable hotspots can be used as a power bank themselves, so you can charge your phone from them. Others have a wireless charging system, which is very convenient, too.

Of course, when it comes to using WiFi hotspot software, you’re relying on your laptop’s battery life. And since you’re most likely carrying your charger with you, all should be good.

Price for Mobile WiFi

You can buy a WiFi router for about $150. These are usually basic 4G / LTE models without any extra features. It doesn’t mean they are any worse than their more expensive counterparts, as long as simplicity is what you are searching for.

Hotspots with more than 5,000 mAh battery capacity, wide displays, and features like video, games, replacing a power bank, or more than ten connections available will cost $200-$650. Plus, don’t forget that you have to pay for connection plans that work in a limited number of countries.

Yet, there are some on-budget items worth trying, like TP-Link N300 Portable Nano Travel Router. The device itself will cost you about $30.

In contrast to that, Connectify Hotspot can be free. This virtual router software offers a lot of features for free, including sharing a WiFi connection via WiFi. But if you seek more, you can purchase a PRO or MAX version. You will be able to  enjoy a full range of services, including sharing any connection type.

If you are seeking all the available features, check out other most popular items in the market. They are rather pricey but, at the same time, very sophisticated solutions. Their displays are huge, and the batteries are reliable. Complemented with speakers, they can even be used to watch videos and play games. Netgear Unite Explore Mobile WiFi Hotspot even has a touchscreen for advanced convenience.

Still, it is next to impossible that a portable WiFi hotspot supporting all the networks, with a massive battery and multiple cool extra features, will have a convenient price. But Connectify Hotspot software is really close to ideal. The takeaway: prioritize what matters to you the most, and you will find a perfect WiFi for your travels.

About the author
Thomas Glare – a traveler, blogger, and coach. Thomas has visited more than a hundred countries and territories, and from each journey, he has got an incredible, unforgettable experience he is willing to share. He writes about his lifestyle on the go, hotels, cuisine, culture, and much more.

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