Are you buying a Pocket WIFI Hotspot device, also called a mobile WIFI router? Read this complete buying guide to make an informed decision before purchasing your wifi hotspot router.
What is a portable WIFI router?
Pocket wifi Hotspot is a portable, small wifi router with wifi hotspot capability. You can connect this device to an internet source and make it a wifi hotspot, which allows many other devices to connect via wifi and share the same internet connection with multiple devices.
Most popular pocket wifi devices are as long and wide as a credit card, less than an inch thick, and weigh less than 100 grams, making them easy to carry wherever you go.
Depending on your budget, you can choose a less functional version or a more fashionable device with more options. If you just want to share the internet with several devices, you can choose simple units that fit any budget.
Different types of pocket wifi devices
You can generally divide Portable wifi router devices into the following categories:
- SIM-based wifi hotspot devices
- USB Datacard / modem-based wifi hotspot devices
- USB data cards have wifi hotspot options
- SIM-based wifi hotspot devices
In this case, you need to buy a separate SIM card from the internet service provider and insert it into the wifi router. After installing the SIM, you will need to connect the router to your computer using a USB cable and configure it to use the SIM card to connect to the service provider.
Once it is configured and the connection is established, you can remove it from your computer and use it as a wifi router. The Pocket wifi router works as a modem as well as a wifi Hotspot.
USB data card/modem-based wifi hotspot devices
USB Datacard-based wifi routers require you to have a USB-based data card to connect to the Internet. You need to plug the USB data card into the Pocket wifi router and turn it on to connect to the internet.
To configure the settings, you need to connect the device to your computer using a USB cable and access the admin panel using your web browser.
This type of wifi hotspot device does not have a built-in modem but instead relies on a USB data card to connect to an ISP. The only function of wifi routers is to act as a wifi hotspot to share the internet over wifi.
Read our review on the LEO-USB-WIFI hotspot device, which is a USB Datacard-based wifi hotspot device.
USB dongles/cards with wifi hotspot options
These days, there are several data cards that come with a built-in wifi hotspot option, which eliminates the need to buy another device to share your internet. In most cases, such cards will serve the purpose. By using the same USB data (wifi Dongle) for internet and wifi sharing, you can save some money.
If you look closely at this, you will notice that SIM-based hotspot devices and USB data cards with wifi hotspot options are very similar types of devices, although they look different in appearance. They have the same capabilities – connect to the internet using a Local SIM Cards and share the internet via wifi.
However, in most cases, the USB data cards are locked to one service provider and you cannot replace the SIM to connect to another service provider. But in the case of SIM-based wifi Hotspot devices, you can replace the SIM and connect to the internet using any service provider.
Which is better – SIM-based devices, USB Datacard-based devices or USB dongles with hotspot feature?
If you travel a lot, I recommend that you buy a SIM-based Pocket wifi router, which offers the following advantages:
- Small size makes it easy to carry in your pocket.
- Although they are larger in size compared to simple USB data cards, the slightly larger, more rectangular shape makes them easier to hold.
- You can replace the SIM at any time and use any supported SIM from any provider. Most USB data cards are locked to specific service providers and you will not be able to connect to another service provider when you travel to other areas or countries.
- Most USB dongles need to be connected directly to the USB port of your computer, which makes them difficult to handle and prone to breaking while on the go. The Pocket wifi Hotspot devices do not require you to be connected to your computer. But, you can connect it to any power source like A/c power, USB port in your car, cigarette lighter in your car and so on.
When you are driving, you can just plug it into the USB drive in the car and enjoy the internet for everyone in the car. If you are sitting in a restaurant with your friends, you can plug it into the power source in the restaurant and have internet for everyone at your table.
However, there are advantages to hotspot devices that use USB data cards. Since many people use USB-based dongles for personal internet connection, it is easy to borrow such a device and connect it to your Hotspot device to share the internet. Borrowing a SIM card and using it with your device may not be that easy!