As staying connected becomes more and more important, cities around the world are changing to accommodate our electronic needs. Cell phone charging stations are on the rise, and more often than not, free Wi-Fi can be found in restaurants, coffee houses and other designated public areas. However, connecting to a free public Wi-Fi network often means risking your personal and financial information.
Finding a secure network is the most effective way to avoid being hacked, and those who need constant internet should invest in portable Wi-Fi devices, which are great for providing private networks.
Portable Wi-Fi devices are exactly like the internet boxes in your home. Except, instead of being attached to a phone cable, these routers use SIM cards. Meaning, the palm-sized devices can be taken anywhere there’s network coverage. But not all of these devices are created equal. With varying internet speeds, prices and features, there’s a lot to choose from.
Portable Wi-Fi gadgets
Locked or unlocked?
When buying portable Wi-Fi, consider whether you want a locked or unlocked device. What’s the difference? Well, if your device is locked to one network, that means you’ll be restricted to using one company for data rates. But an unlocked device will work with any SIM card, meaning you can purchase the best deal in whatever country you’re in. Our suggestion: if life or work has you traveling out of the country often, spring for the unlocked. Check out some of our favorites below.
Huawei E5330 Mobile Hotspot
(Starting at $55)
Topping out at 3G HSPA+, this portable Wi-Fi device doesn’t exactly deliver the fastest internet speeds. But it comes unlocked and will do the trick for on-the-go email and web browsing. It provides 5-6 hours of battery and can support 10 Wi-Fi devices simultaneously. It’s a great option for travelers who just want to check in with friends and family every now and again. Just be aware that this particular model won’t work in the U.S. Check out the HUAWEI E5220s-6 for other options.
Novatel Wireless MiFi Liberate
(Starting at $60)
While this portable Wi-Fi device is usually sold through specific providers like AT&T, you can find unlocked versions on eBay. So, if you don’t mind a little extra leg work, this device’s easy set-up is a nice payoff for the technologically challenged user. It can use 4G, 3G and 2G networks, features a 10-hour battery life, and has an intuitive touch screen. Plus, it supports Windows and Mac OS X and up to 10 devices.
(Starting at $103)
A little pricier (but well worth the money), this portable Wi-Fi device covers all the basics and more. It provides 10 hours of battery life, can operate on 4G/LTE, 3G or 2G networks, supports up to 10 devices and offers download speeds up to 150Mbps. It also provides a duel-band Wi-Fi option (both 2.4GHz or 5GHz) and comes equipped with a micro SD card slot for up to 32GB of optional storage. Plus, the ability to control the device through its app (available for iOS and Android) is an extra nice perk.
Huawei E5786s Wi-Fi Hotspot
(Starting at $210)
This unlocked portable Wi-Fi device is compact, lightweight and top of the line. Available in black or white, it has unbeatable downloading speeds, maxing out at 300Mbps compared to 150Mbps (and sometimes less) in other devices. It also features duel-band LTE (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz) and up to 10 hours of battery on a single charge. And not only can you support up to 10 devices with this personal hotspot, but you can also use it to charge your phone and other electronics in a pinch. However, this device doesn’t support all U.S. LTE networks, so it’s best for traveling abroad.
Whether you’re a professional that needs access to Wi-Fi for answering work e-mails, or a traveler who just wants to stay in touch with friends and family, portable Wi-Fi provides all the convenience of internet without the high risk. As you head off on your adventures, gear up and stay connected!
Do you have any must-have portable tech and gadgets for traveling? Let us know in the comments below.