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Air Card for laptop?
Old 01-20-2010, 10:14 PM   #1
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Air Card for laptop?

Does anyone have experience comparing a USB air card to a PCMCIA air card to use of a mobile phone with USB cable for mobile web use with a laptop? I have T- Mobile service for my phone (no data plan at this time) and may want to upgrade to a data plan. The issue at hand is finding information to compare the 3 devices that would be used with a laptop. Thanks for any input.
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MovingtotheCove View Post
Does anyone have experience comparing a USB air card to a PCMCIA air card to use of a mobile phone with USB cable for mobile web use with a laptop? I have T- Mobile service for my phone (no data plan at this time) and may want to upgrade to a data plan. The issue at hand is finding information to compare the 3 devices that would be used with a laptop. Thanks for any input.
I don't have any experience with the mobile phone option, but I recently switched from a Sprint PCMCIA aircard to a Sprint USB aircard and found no noticeable difference in speed or performance. The USB card does protrude more which probably makes it more prone to bumps and damage, but no problems so far.
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:40 PM   #3
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I recently went from a Verizon USB aircard to a tethered Verizon blackberry. No difference that I can tell.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:50 AM   #4
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I have used both the PCMCIA card and a USB one and also the other card version (smaller one...forget what it is called). I have also used a tethered Blackberry. I noticed no real difference between any of them. I did try my Blackberry tethered once not using the cable and using Bluetooth. That did result in a noticeable slowdown.

I gave up the aircard I had had for years to use just the tethered Blackberry.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:36 AM   #5
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I used all three at times - the PCMCIA card and USB card while at work and a Blackberry phone tethered now. The real choice today is between the dedicated USB connection and the phone tether. USB is definitely less of a hassle. you can leave it in the laptop and stay connected all the time. But the tether can save you a few bucks if you don't need the connection all the time. I call Verizon and turn on the tethering feature when I go to my weekend house or travel to a location where I won't have WIFI. I call them back and turn it off when I no longer need it. They pro-rate at $1/day. So I pay the $30/mth for the Blackberry email and browser plus a few dollars a month for tethering. I always have my email/gps/tiny browser with me. And I have a full connection when I want it. The USB card would cost $60 month and wouldn't give me the in-my-pocket mobile features of the BB.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:53 AM   #6
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One other point - going with a USB aircard will give much greater flexibility than the older and larger PCMCIA card. PCMCIA card slots are apparently being phased out in favor of the smaller Expresscard slot in new laptops and USB only in netbooks.
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Old 01-21-2010, 03:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff View Post
I used all three at times - the PCMCIA card and USB card while at work and a Blackberry phone tethered now. The real choice today is between the dedicated USB connection and the phone tether. USB is definitely less of a hassle. you can leave it in the laptop and stay connected all the time. But the tether can save you a few bucks if you don't need the connection all the time. I call Verizon and turn on the tethering feature when I go to my weekend house or travel to a location where I won't have WIFI. I call them back and turn it off when I no longer need it. They pro-rate at $1/day. So I pay the $30/mth for the Blackberry email and browser plus a few dollars a month for tethering. I always have my email/gps/tiny browser with me. And I have a full connection when I want it. The USB card would cost $60 month and wouldn't give me the in-my-pocket mobile features of the BB.
Good to know. I thought the $30 monthly was an "all or nothing" proposition. I didn't know they offered $1 per day.

Also, I have looked into some tether software options (tetherberry, mobishark), which charge a one-time fee (no additional monthly data charges from your carrier), and piggy back off your smart phone data plan. These appear to be against carrier TOS but everyone says as long as you don't use too much data, it goes undetected...
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the input. I ended up adding an unlimited mobile connect (no voice) line to my current plan for $19.95 / month and buying outright from them (T-Mobile affiliate) an Alcatel Tribe phone to use as a modem w/ USB cable and all necessary software for about $110. I opted to buy the phone outright in case I don't like the service. The thing could always be used as a phone only. Status report...in the first 24 hours after a mild bit of confusion from the directions and a phone call to the support desk I have it running on my laptop and doing quite well. So far so good! Again, on the phone I can also use the web, although my bifoculs don't do real well seeing things that small. I guess in the end I decided to try this vs. either the USB or PCMCIA card due to the fact it can "surf" on its own even when not connected to the laptop. Thanks again for all the input....hope all bugs show up if they are to show up within my 30 day trial period.
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