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Adding LTE to a laptop, hotspot or external dongle. Which is best?


twospirits
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So I recently upgraded my Dell XPS 18 to a Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 2017 2 in 1. In the past with the Dell, I had one of those Sierra Wireless USB dongle device from Sprint, now a days I connect the Samsung to the internet using the hotspot on my phone, but I'm curious. Is that still better than getting a dedicated usb dongle LTE device? 

 

So, for those that connect their laptops to the network, what do you use and or why? 

 

TS

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I cant recall ever using a mifi \ hotspot thing or an external dongle or internal lte besides when works given me one for free to use. Since the days of proprietary cables from phones to serial ports I've used my phone. Somewhere around 2007 ish I think I swapped to using the phone as a wireless hotspot rather than serial \ usb tethering. I don't find the need but I'm sure it works better for others. I seem to get a better signal with phones, less to carry around, charge, pay for etc.

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Hotspot gives you more versatility, you can usually use it as wired connection via USB, and also via wi-fi when you don't want to do that. It's basically 2-in-1

I haven't tried it in a decade but can I not use my phone as a modem via usb? I just kind of assumed it would still work that way. I guess hotspots can have ethernet ports which would be a plus. 

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If you plan on frequently using the phone and need the Internet connection while on the phone, you'll want to get something separate from using your phone as a hotspot.  That will change if ever VoLTE becomes reality.

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I haven't tried it in a decade but can I not use my phone as a modem via usb? I just kind of assumed it would still work that way. I guess hotspots can have ethernet ports which would be a plus.

You only can if you have tethering on your plan or you root your phone to have it ignore the tethering provisioning. It's seen the same as hotspot usage. USB tethering causes the phone to basically show up as a USB ethernet device.

 

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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Here is some of my usage over a few lines and experiences I have with a few options, ups and downs; depending on what kind of use and performance you need out of it for your applications. 

 

USB dongles are a nice all in one package. They can lack larger radio or antenna capacity for size but you get a hard connection. They do not need a battery, and are very portable. Some can tx WiFi as well. You can get replacements for very cheap and can sometimes add a larger antenna to the radio. May require a subscription. I used one in an all in one reliably, until we moved and I built a cellular router as we installed our network at home.

Creating a hotspot on a phone is very handy, but depends on your phones throughput, be it 2.4, 5GHz or usb, but you do not have another device that may require a subscription. Medium term it beats up a battery and may add thermal wear if left on. I lived off my Nexus 5 through school in a giant brick building, this was a very dependable option for me at the time, as a power user I went through batteries. Great for moderate daily use and is not more hardware but will cost some life to the phone w no saving throw.

 

You may be able to add an internal radio if your peecee has a free M.2, PCIe slot or even USB slot w an adapter. Cheap M.2 chips go for about 30-75 on ebay. PCIe goes for about 40 to a Benjamin. The top end of these have CA, sim adapters are about 10 bucks, antennas start at free if can you make some out of parts to ~5 for the little u.fl antenna whips. This gives you best throughput all around. You get an on board connection, will not be interrupted by legacy airlink calls and has a shareable connection through Windows or Linux out if you need it. The different brands I have used have good support, drivers and updates. You get best control of the radio; for instance bandlocking in a tough environment or cell edge. This adds a slight burden to your power source, a little more internal heat and an app on your desktop. If you can't swap sim cards, this may require a subscription and flame decals. 

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It depends in my opinion.  If your employer will pay for the dongle and you have the security needed. why not...  I try to use my hotspot as much as i can when traveling due to VPN access.  The hotspot is less than optimal when you need to use your phone and hotspot at the same time. 

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