USB dongle or data card is still the most popular way of accessing internet when you are travelling or somewhere in a place where you can not access the WiFi. This small portable USB modem is very popular way of accessing internet on the go on the laptop.In these days of smartphone which can be turned as a WiFi hotspot it is still the list of must-have travel accessory.
What is Data Card/USB Modem/USB Dongle?
In earlier days, when laptop did not have USB ports data cards were used to access the internet by inserting it in PCMCIA slot. Now days data card and USB dongle are used synonymous which refers to USB modem which lets you access the internet using mobile network via SIM card. Data card is small pen drive like devices having SIM slot and other modem functionality which can be connected to laptop or desktop using USB port to access the internet using cellular network. Some data cards available in India has the capability to create WiFi hotspot so data cards are also called as WiFi dongle.
Data cards are hugely popular in India due to their portability and ability to let you access internet anywhere. So if you are travelling next time to a place which do not have WiFi get the best data card with unlimited internet plan and go online anywhere.
Best 4G Data Cards/WiFi Dongles in India
Best 3G Data Cards/WiFi Dongles in India
What features to look for in best data card / Internet USB dongle
- Data card should support all SIM card from all major telecom network provider. It should not be locked to specific vendor. In summary having a unlocked data card is first feature you should look for.telecom provider specific data cards would make you use their service even if their are more cheaper and faster data plans available with other provider, and if you want to switch the provider you end up throwing the existing data card and buying new as telecom provider data cards will not accept other SIM card. So generic/unlocked data cards is what you should look for.
- Having WiFi hotspot capability is a very useful feature and if lets you create a WiFi hotspot by connecting to any USB power source such as car charger, portable power bank then it’s a bonus. Having this feature will let you connect more than one devices to your portable WiFi hotspot created using dongle and will be your best travel companion.
- Support of microSD memory card is one feature that would be useful if you want to have network storage. This will be like your own network storage device on the go.
- 4G data card or 3G data card is a choice which depends on you, however in terms of technology 4G is newer and offers high speed internet. Also 4G data plans are almost near the price of 3G data plans. So to be future proof you should go for newer one.
Type of Data Cards
4G Data Card – These are newest type of data card which supports 4G SIM card and offers speed up to 100 MBPS. Along with support for 4G/LTE it is also backward compatible and can work with 3G SIM.
3G Data Card – These are bit older data cards now with the entry of 4G in India. It offers speed up to 21 Mbps and backward compatible with 2G.
ENDO Data Cards – It stands for evolution data optimized, It’s a 3G technology which offers connectivity on Rev-A type of network. It offers speed up to 3.1MBPS, BSNL seems to have EVDO data cards.
Best data card / Internet USB dongle available in India online
Benefits of datacards
- Data cards are very lightweight and small enough to fit in your pocket.
- They are very easy to operate and does not need any super geeky stuff to understand.
- Price is what make them most attractive.You should be able to find descent data card at very cheap price
- If you got generic data card, you have a power of choosing any telecom provider.
Disadvantages of Data Card
- Coverage is total dependent on the mobile operator’s coverage area. Even if your preferred mobile operator’s provides 4G but you are in an area where no 4G coverage is available you would be getting fallback 3G or 2G speed. So check the operator which has good coverage area.
- Speed of data card is upto 21.1 Mbps, It’s good for browsing however for video streaming, listening to music it might not be sufficient.
- Its limited to only one device at a time that to a device which has USB slot, mobiles/tablets which have microUSB slots may not be able to connect to datacard unless you buy a separate connector.
- Datacard needs a power source and so you again need to either buy a separate powerbank or carry a laptop with you.
With these limitations and based on your need you should compare your options. If you plan to share your internet with several devices and need a device which acts as WiFi hotspot then MiFi device would be a great option for you, however it too depends on the mobile operators coverage area as Mobile Hotspots works on celluler network.
Why you should get only data plan for your data card?
While activating a plan for your newly purchased data card, make sure you research all available data plans with your operator and try to buy a plan which is specially made for data card, Simply activating a plan which offers voice and data both will be waste of money and you won’t be using data card to make voice calls even if it supports. Generally data plans for data card offers more data in the same price as compared to combo (voice+data) plans.
Why having a WiFi hotspot functionality matters?
If data card supports creating WiFi hotspot without needing to plug it in the laptop then its wise choice as you can plug in your data card to portable power bank or any other USB power source and create a WiFi hotpost which supports multiple devices to connect. This would greatly reduce your dependency on MiFi device as only difference in such Data Card and MiFi device will be not having battery backup which you can always fulfill by carrying a power bank, which I suppose everyone has nowdays. However make sure data card does not require to connect to laptop/desktop to create a WiFi hotspot, it should be plug and play.
If you need an internet connectivity anywhere and generally you need it for your laptop then data card seems to be a good option as its cheaper, extremely small to carry and universal data cards are not bound to any operator, so you can always buy a sim of any operator based on your location and connectivity coverage and enjoy internet without shelling fortune just for net connectivity.