Many people know a few things about internet sticks, but they don’t really pay much attention to this small but very useful device. Well, for starters, there are wifi hotspots in almost all public spaces, especially if you reside in a city or town. This means that more and more people have unrestricted access to the internet no matter where they go (unless you live off the grid).
With that said, people own laptops with the motive of carrying them wherever they go. You definitely want to work, complete the last details of your project, or do assignments in any place you find comfortable. While public wifi is a good option, it’s not the safest out there. Remember, the world is filled with scammers and hackers waiting for the right opportunity to strike. This is where internet sticks for laptops come in.
What are internet sticks for laptops?
An internet stick or otherwise referred to as a wifi dongle is a small device that connects to a laptop or PC USB port to allow access to the internet. It works in a more or less similar way to how smartphones get you connected to the internet. When you connect the internet stick to the USB port on your laptop, it grants you access to the available wireless internet within the area. This basically means that you will get internet via the 3G or 4G cellular networks when you are up and about or even at home.
The people who are likely to benefit more from the internet sticks are avid travelers who require stable internet connections. There is no 100% assurance you will get that in a new location; hence the internet sticks are a great choice in this regard. Additionally, if you live in an area where the wifi signals are not ideal, your next best alternative would be the internet sticks.
Normally, you have to purchase the USB internet stick together with a sim card from which you will subscribe to a data plan. The sim card is inserted into the gadget while in use. You can either pick a data plan from the local retailer shop or opt for your service provider. Keep in mind; the devices are only used on laptops and PCs. They can’t be connected to tablets or smartphones. Though, they are usually popular with laptop users who are bound to be up and about most of the time.
How to pick the best internet sticks for your laptop
You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to buy an internet stick. There are things that you are supposed to look at to avoid making mistakes or purchasing an internet stick that does not meet your needs. Like any other gadget, it’s important to search for the best you can find and the one with the appropriate features. Here are several factors to always keep at the back of your mind;
Does your laptop need a USB internet stick?
This should be the first question that runs through your mind before embarking on shopping for an internet stick. The truth is many of the laptops in the market today already have an inbuilt modem or wifi support, making it almost unnecessary to get a USB internet stick. For most people, if the laptop has a solid built-in wifi feature, there is absolutely no reason to add a wifi dongle. On the other hand, people with the older laptop models may miss out on functionalities such as good built-in wifi support.
When Coverage area important?
You also have to be perfectly aware of the coverage map of your service provider. In this case, what you have to do is determine the service providers within your area who have the best coverage. The signals should be good enough to enable you to enjoy a steady internet connection from your internet stick. Therefore, if you are never in one place, your provider’s cellular network should at least always be in range.
Get a suitable data plan
The thing about data plans is that they can be quite expensive especially for frequent internet users. For this reason, it’s important to choose a data plan that is most suitable for your particular needs. Basically, most providers will give you the option of choosing a monthly or yearly package with contracts. The yearly package will mean you will be tied to a contract for a whole twelve months. The stellar news is that it’s usually the cheaper option. On the other hand, the monthly package is super flexible and comes with a whole lot of options at your display. Thus, choose wisely.
Do not simply purchase a data plan blindly without considering the amount of data you will be receiving in the package. Measure your internet needs and requirements before choosing a particular data plan.
People who constantly perform high bandwidth tasks should opt for packages with data in gigabytes. This reduces the chances of exceeding the data limit provided on your plan. Remember, surpassing the data limit will mean you have to go back into your pockets and fish out more money. Ultimately, this will not be good for your finances.
I believe we all look at the price when buying various items. Thankfully, just about anyone can afford an internet stick because they really don’t cost much. At only about $50, you will get an internet stick that will serve you for years. Therefore, other than the price, look for a durable device. Some of them might break into pieces or stop functioning with a single fall.
The 4 best internet sticks for laptops
It’s not quite easy to come across a good USB internet stick that you can use to connect your laptop to the internet. Most of the time, wireless internet providers also sell these devices together with mobile data plans. All said and done, there are a few notable internet sticks or wifi dongles that you can use on your laptop today.
1. Verizon Wireless 4G LTE USB modem 551L
This Verizon’s USB modem is perfect for the people who want a portable device that will serve as a travel companion or simply for use while up and about. It works quite well with the 4G LTE networks providing fast download and upload speeds. With that said, most of the users are typically Verizon subscribers. This means that if you have been using the Verizon broadband services, purchasing this USB modem will be a good addition to accessing mobile broadband on your laptop. You will also need a data plan from the cellular provider to successfully use the device.
2. Pena 4G LTE USB modem
This is one of those internet sticks for laptops that will give you value for your money. You will easily get it in many of the online stores at the cost of $30. Among the notable features is that this device can work both ways. It grants wireless internet access on both the 3G, 4G networks, and available wifi networks. Well, those people who require a speedy internet connection on the go can use this convenient product.
But, there are complaints from users about the device not being compatible with their sim cards even though it’s advertised as ‘unlocked.’ Also, it does not work with AT&T, and T-Mobile bands hence read the specifications keenly.
3. Pantech UML290 4G USB modem
Pantech UML290 is among the best-reviewed wifi dongles on Amazon. There are several reasons behind it all. The first one is that the device is quite affordable, and at only $20, you will be getting more value for your money. Secondly, it consists of a stylish design that includes a connector that rotates at 180 degrees to let you fold away the internet stick when not in use.
It works on both 3G and 4G networks. In case the cellular signal is a bit down, there is an external antenna connector that works to boost it. Since it uses the Verizon wireless network, you are guaranteed stable and strong signals in good coverage areas. Additionally, it’s super flexible because it can pick up 3G, 4G, and LTE signals, making it easier for you always to stay connected. Are you an avid traveler? Worry not because you have finally found the USB modem that functions seamlessly anywhere and at any time.
4. ZTE MF833V 4G LTE USB modem dongle
There are very many people who travel for business and need to use the internet constantly. There is literally no assurance that there will be reliable and stable internet waiting upon arrival in the new place. That’s why a device such as the ZTE MF833V, which comprises a global frequency band, is invaluable. It’s certified for use in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Users often purchase USB modem devices only to get disappointed later when it fails to work with their Windows laptops or MacBooks. This particular one is compatible with windows 8, windows 7, windows 10, Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, and vista. Besides, you can get a sim card from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Google Fi. Many of the users have nothing to complain about and are happy with the ZTE USB internet stick. With that said, prepare your pockets because this internet stick doesn’t come cheap. It costs about $60 on Amazon.
5. NETGEAR Beam 340U 4G LTE USB modem
NETGEAR Beam is one of those USB modems that will grant you access to a reliable and fast internet connection. The device is mostly compatible with the GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Therefore, it may not work as expected with the CDMA mobile carriers like Verizon and Sprint. I like the LCD interface, which displays the signal strength and network information. Furthermore, it supports windows 7, windows 8, vista, windows XP, and Mac OS.
How do I unlock a blocked USB internet stick?
An internet stick usually comes with a sim card or a network card that works to allow access to a certain wireless network. Most of the time, the internet stick you buy will consist of a sim card and a built-in feature which blocks the device when it’s removed. Therefore, any time the network card is removed from the stick, it will get blocked, and hence it won’t function.
You will find that mobile carriers in the US provide internet sticks together with the company’s network cards. That’s why the device may not work with any other new card. In case the internet stick is locked, contact the support team of the company from which you bought the product. You can also use a system software code to unlock it and get it back to its working state.
Frequently asked questions
How can I get the internet on my laptop anywhere?
Internet sticks are among the popular ways to ensure there is internet access anywhere you go. They are portable and lightweight, making it super easy to carry in your pocket, travel bag, or backpack. Furthermore, the internet connection is quite fast, stable, and reliable. If you travel a lot, especially for business, you might as well get yourself an internet stick.
Which is better, dongle or broadband?
Dongles work in an almost similar way with the broadband on smartphones. However, the wifi dongles are often used when connecting a laptop or PC to the internet. Unlike broadband, the dongles don’t require cables for an internet connection. Furthermore, broadband is mainly used at home, and whenever you are away from home, you get disconnected. On the other hand, dongles are portable devices that can be used just about anywhere by the people who want a reliable internet connection.
I have seen people struggle with unreliable internet, especially when away from home. Fortunately, internet sticks are the perfect solution for the users who need the internet on the go no matter the location. The internet sticks also offer a more secure connection than what you would get with the public wifi.