Wireless dongle review

A dongle is a USB thingy (as you can see, I’m very qualified in this area) that lets you connect your computer to the internet wherever you go. It uses the same type of connection your cellphone data plan uses (3G or 4G).

A few months ago, Clear asked if they could send me a free sample dongle, as I am such a prestigious tech blogger. And I, being a sucker for free things (take note marketers) agreed to try out their dongle. And I have to say, it’s been pretty cool having free wifi wherever I go. The good bits:

  • It is very handy, especially when traveling. Waiting for hours in cold, smelly terminals become much more bearable. If I traveled more, I’d definitely get my own dongle (or try to get work to get one for me).
  • I could use the dongle on multiple laptops. I was worried about this, it seems like a lot of companies grub for money by binding devices like this to a single machine so you have to buy one for each computer you have (and who has just one computer?). It only supported Mac and Windows, though, so minor ding for that.
  • Andrew and I watched Law and Order (Netflix) using it and there was no noticeable difference in quality from our landline. I didn’t do a proper speed test, partly because I’m lazy and partly because I didn’t care. (If you know me IRL and want to do one, let me know and I’ll lend the dongle to you.)

But… there aren’t a whole lot of places I go where I don’t have free wifi already. Almost all of the coffeeshops and bookstores (and even bars) I go to already advertise free wifi. I used the dongle maybe once a week. I’ll miss it when my free trial runs out, but I won’t miss it $55-per-month-worth.

Also, I should be able to get the same sort of behavior by tethering my cellphone–if Sprint didn’t cripple their cellphones to prevent you from tethering. I actually don’t like having a phone, period, so when my contract runs out I’ll probably get a phone with just a data plan and a less douchey carrier.

So, my conclusions are: it’s super handy, but my cellphone should really be able to serve the same function. But that’s just me, and it is really cool being able to go online anywhere.

  • blangdon

    As far as the cell phone and plan goes, I suggest Verizon and an Android phone. I have mine rooted and it has Android-Wifi-Tether on it and it creates an Ad-Hoc Wifi network and uses my 3G. I’m on vacation using it right now and its great, down side is it binds up my phone, so don’t expect to really talk on the phone or txt while tethering.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds great, that’s almost exactly what I want. It’s so lame that phone companies don’t let you tether without rooting.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    I can tether with my unrooted phone, but its a nexus one.

  • Anonymous

    Which carrier? I have access to a Nexus One.

  • Anonymous

    T-Mobile. It was a contract renewal, but the phone was unlocked. As long as your are running 2.2, you should have WiFi and USB tethering. My wife streamed Korean soap operas from Jersey City to the Cannuck border on our honeymoon. Rail travel does not fair as well. Lots of dead spots between NY and MongoDC, but good LIRR coverage once your above ground.

  • Anonymous

    Sweet! And congrads, last I heard she was your fiancee!

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