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Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

RoadWarrior USB Car Holder Review

This is the sixth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Is the sat nav redundant? Smartphones and tablets have arguably made laptops, desktops, mobile (or cell) phones and sat navs redundant. My S4 Mini is now my sat nav, so I need a car charger to hold my phone on the go so it can act as my sat nav.

After a lot of research I decided to get the a RoadWarrior – great name.

What Does It Do?

The reason I chose the RoadWarrior is because of its functionality. The car holder both charges a phone and holds it. It also has an extra USB port you can use to charge another device. Its most attractive feature however is its inbuilt FM transmitter inbuilt, meaning you can link your phone to your cars stereo.

Does It Work?

Ever looked at something online and though that it looks too good to be true? Well I was sceptical about the RoadWarrior. However whilst it does have  a few faults, it does generally do what it says it does. With some cars depending upon where the cigarette lighter plug is, it can be in an awkward place, meaning that the RoadWarrior can get in the way. This isn’t the fault of the holder and it does have a flexible arm which is movable so you can reposition it.

The FM receiver does work, and it relatively easy to set up (if you remember to flick the on/off switch on the side like I didn’t) just tune it to an unused frequency using the buttons and then tune your car stereo to the same frequency.

The charger does work reasonably well and still works when charging two devices (i.e. a phone and anything else plugged in to the spare USB). The power plug is a little wobbly and does sometimes disconnect which is annoying.

My biggest problem with the RoadWarrior is how it holds my phone. Whilst I appreciate it is designed to hold a variety of phones I don’t feel all to confident in putting my phone in and taking it out. The adjustable clamp does hold it in place, but my phone can still move a little, which I worry is damaging the connector. Furthermore, to get my phone out, the instructions say I have to bend it forwards and then pull it out. I am also concerned that this movement might be damaging my phones power connector – a costly thing to replace!

Rating

The RoadWarrior is a really great device. I feel its greatest feature is its FM transmitter so you can connect your phone to your car, whilst charging it, even if your car doesn’t have bluetooth of USB port. My main problem with the charger is how securely it holds my phone, nothing has gone wrong yet though.

Overall I rate the RoadWarrior USB Car Charger 4 star.Four Star

Next Week

Next week I will be finishing the series!

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Computers Media Technology

How the USB revolutionised computing

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The Universal Serial Bus, or as it is now commonly referred to as the USB, is a port designed to provide power supply or share data between electronic devices.

Ask someone to think about a USB, most people will naturally assume you are talking about a memory stick, which in essence is a super small, lightweight portable hard disk. However don’t confuse a USB port (the holding device) with a USB flash drive (a memory stick).

The USB (both port and flash drive) is something most of us take for granted in modern times, so I thought in this post it would be interesting to look at some of the uses for USBs, and how the USB has evolved over time.

USB 1.0

Design prototyping for the USB began when computing was still in its infancy, way back 18 years ago in 1994. At the time the port was being developed by the big players in the computing industry – Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, IBM, etc. These companies realised that there was (at the time) no easy medium which allowed communication through computers. For the computer to evolve, the companies realised that this would be an integral part of the system, as if you cannot share data, options are limited. Do remember this was happening in times before the internet was the global phenomenon it is today.

The first USB was produced in 1995 by Intel. Computers of the time started to come fitted with one or two USB 1.0 ports – although looking back, relatively few PCs were ever released with USB 1.0 ports. Nowadays, USB ports are in most cases a necessity for keyboard and mouse input devices.

The USB 1.0 was a revolutionary product, however looking back, its functionality was limited. Its maximum data transfer speed was 12 megabits per second. Relatively slow. That said, back when it was first introduced, a computers internal hard drive was typically only sized around 256/1024 mb (1/4 of a gigabyte to one gigabyte).

USB 2.0

In late 2000, the USB flash drive was released, enabling users to store more data than ever before, by storing things external to their computer. It would be an understatement to say that the USB flash drive was a step up from the floppy disk – it was more of a leap up! Initially, most USBs were typically 8 megabytes in size, meaning that they could hold more than five times what a floppy disk could.

Earlier in the year, the USB 2.0 was released, meaning that data transfer could happen 40 times faster, at 480 megabits per second. Initially some flash drives were designed for 1.0, however soon they were all being designed for the new 2.0 port, due to the increased possibilities.

USB 3.0

In 2008, the currently less well known USB 3.0 was released, which is more than ten times faster than its 2.0 brother.

USB flash drives have also improved over the years, and it is now possible to get a USB flash drive that is 256 gigabytes – one quarter of a terabyte. These disks are bigger than most computer hard drives were just a few years ago, showing the extent of the upgrades this technology has undergone.

A 256 gigabyte memory stick would though be useless with a USB 1.0 port as filling it would take almost 2 days (1.98 days) due to the speed of the data transfer. Even with a USB 2.0 port, the data transfer would take almost 72 minutes – more than an hour. Modern USB 3.0 ports could have the job done in less than 7 minutes. That really shows the true scale or achievement and advancement made in the USB industry.

Modern Uses

The USB is a crucial component of the modern PC, and is also very important for other devices. It is now possible to power many smartphones and multimedia devices via USB, either through a plug or your computer.

Some people use USB sticks to carry around a portable operating system with them, as it is perfectly possible to load Windows 7 onto a 16 gb memory stick and carry it around with you.

A USB penThe USB itself is a very flexible (not literally, the board would probably snap were you to bend it) device, with a lot of room for aesthetic variation. You can now get a range of Promotional USB Sticks, which many organisations often utilise, choosing to offer branded USBs as promotional gifts. This is all thanks to the readily available technology and cheap price of the components involved.

USBs now come shaped as credit cards, keys, pens, robots, people and even wine bottles!

A USB shaped into a bottelDo you have any funky USB flash drives at home? How about USB ports, have you counted how many your PC has? Comments and feedback below as always 🙂

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Computers

Commodore is making a comeback

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People who were born after 1990 tend to consider a world without the technology they rely on so much an unimaginable place. However, such a world existed not long ago. In fact, while technology existed a decade prior, it would be considered stone age artifacts by most people today who utilise touchscreen mobile devices and lightning fast desktop computers.

Unfortunately, few people take the time to look back and appreciate the types of devices that paved the way for the popular pieces of technology that we use so often today. Whether it is that massive cell phone from an episode of Saved by the Bell, or the Commodore 64 from 1982, there are many forgotten pieces that were the stepping-stones for modern technology.

An old computer
A Commodore 64

To help neutralise this widespread neglect, the commodore is being re-released with a few modern upgrades. This re-release has been received with high regard by both people from the generation of the original commodore, as well as people from modern generations just discovering its significance.

Below are a few elements of the modern Commodore that people are finding most appealing.

Nostalgia

One of the most notable benefits that people see with the release of the modern commodore is the nostalgic aspect it provides. While the hardware specifications have been modernised, the overall look and feel of the new commodore has remained true to its roots. The keyboard keys are the same shape and colour as the original commodore. Additionally, consumers can even play the old 8-bit games that were all the rage back in the heyday of this classic machine.

Functional Enough For Modern Usage

The new commodore has been equipped with some modern hardware that makes it operational for general use with modern amenities without much trouble. While it does not have the performance capability of an ultrabook, it does have generous processing power with an Intel Atom 1.8 GZ dual core CPU as well as 2 GB of RAM that can be doubled if the consumer wishes for a little more speed. Additionally, there is a wide selection of USB ports available to ensure all of your peripherals can be utilised.

Affordability

Another beneficial element of the commodore that has attracted consumers is the price. Consumers can expect to pay anything from $250 for the most basic option to $850 for the most decked out model.

The re-release of the Commodore has caught the attention of a wide selection of consumers. From people of the generation that used the first C64 model to play their 8-bit video games, to people from modern generations that are just discovering this important machine. Whether you want to relive the good old days of simple technology or just want a fun conversational piece, the new commodore might be a good investment for you.

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Computers How To Guides

How to identify prevent and fix laptop overheating

For the last few years, the sale of laptops has increased by 25% whereas the sale of desktop machines has reduced. Along with increasing demand for laptops and a change in times, technology has been upgraded.

Day by day laptops are getting thinner, more compact, lighter, and better in terms of performance. Because of this, laptops are now being put into smaller and smaller casing, which increases the threat of overheating, as there is less room for air to circulate.

If your laptop overheats, it can cause permanent hardware damage or failure. In this article, I will try to teach you about how to identify, prevent and fix laptop overheating.

An overheating laptop

Symptoms of Laptop Overheating

Below are the three points which can help out to identify if your laptop is overheating.

  • Sudden shut-down, done by the operating system to prevent hardware damage
  • The fan speed increases – you should be able to here this
  • A reduction in the laptops performance – things load slower, the CPU is busy more often etc.

The Root Cause of Laptop Overheating

Laptop overheating occurs due to insufficient cooling. This usually happens because either your laptop is clogged up with dust, blocking ventilation, or because a thermal grease compound is getting stocked between your CPU and the heat sink – the big metal cooler that is usually linked to the fan.

Steps to prevent or fix Laptop Overheating

Option 1 – External cooler

You could purchase an external cooler. This is a cooling pad you place your laptop on, and it keeps cool air circulating around the laptop. Before you but a cooling pad, it is important to understand the flow of air in and out of your laptop.

Cooling pads are more useful/effective when used on laptops with air vents on the base of the device. Cooling pad connect via USB, and consumes some of the laptops power – not a problem if you are plugged in. Usually these pads cost around ÂŁ5-20 GBP.

Option 2 – Get a strong and level base

Most laptops have their ventilation grills on the bottom of the device. Therefore if you keep them on an uneven surface, such as a bed, lap or pillow, disturbance is caused to the airflow. Keeping your laptop on a hard surface, like a table or a strong hard tray is likely to get you good air flow..

Option 3 – Internal cleaning

The above two methods were external methods, however this method will require taking your laptop apart and putting it back together again – so only do it if you are confident you know what you are doing!

This step is about removing your laptops casing to clean out any dust or dirt that might be restricting the airflow. Most laptops have downloadable user manuals, which can tell you all about the internals of your laptop, and how to take it apart, in order to clean it. This can void your warranty, so be careful and do your research! If you are not confident, you could of course take it to your local computer repair shop, and ask them to clean it.

If you are doing it yourself, once you have opened your laptop, you will need to clean the fans which provide cooling to graphics card and CPU. Before you do this, make sure that it is shut down and the battery is removed – don’t electrocute yourself! For thermal grease you may need to use a cotton swab, dipped in stain remover to remover.

For full, comprehensive instructions, research it yourself, and do not start opening your laptop up until you know what you are doing!

Categories
Gadgets Reviews

SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset – Review

Previously I have reviewed the Pocket Boom, a cool little device which can turn virtually any device into a speaker. Recently the same people asked if I wanted to review a SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset, so here I go!

Please note, like with the Pocket Boom Review, all the opinions in this article are mine, and are completely honest – I am not being paid to write this review.

The SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset is a device which provides wireless headphones, which can synchronise with almost any Bluetooth device. This means that when you are out and about, you can take calls, and listen to music, without the limits of wires.

SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset in packaging

Ergonomics

The headset very cleverly folds away quite neatly, which does mean that they can fit into your pocket without much of a problem, meaning they are portable, like you need them to be.


SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset folded away
The headphones when they are folded up would fit in your pocket

So, are the headphones comfortable to wear? My answer would be it depends who you are. I have tried them on, and I have got other members of the team and some of my friends to try them on, and the responses you get are mixed. Some people have no trouble whatsoever, the headset fits snugly onto their head, and are very comfortable to ware. Other people have tried them on, and they do fit, they are just a bit more awkward. Maybe that’s something you might want to consider – especially as they are not retractable/adjustable.

Ease of Use

Like with the Pocket Boom, if you don’t read the instructions, you aren’t going anywhere very fast! Read what the small A5 (ish) sheet of paper tells you, and things become pretty simple.

With some phones you need to fiddle with some settings either with Bluetooth, or on audio tracks to get them to work properly with calls and music, but it does work!

Sound Quality

Obviously one of the most important things with all headphones is the sound quality. You can get the most amazing headset, but if it has poor sound quality, then there is little point to it.

So what about the quality of the audio stream produced by the SD10 Bluetooth headset? Well it is actually very good! The headphones fit very snugly around your ears, reducing any noise interference, and the audio quality is very respectable.

Obviously noise cancelling headphones, or recording studio ones would be better, but the quality is very respectable, especially as it is coming from a wireless stream. For the average music listener, I don’t think there is any need to worry about poor sound quality.

Instructions

The headphones do come with instructions, which are clear, and just require a small amount of common sense and logic to use. They are helpful, but could contain a little more info – possibly room for an FAQ’s section.

The SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset packaging, instructions USB cable and headphones
The headset, along with packaging, instructions and USB lead

Power

From what I have seen of the headset, it seems to last a reasonable amount of time between charges. You don’t start listening to a tune, and then a call comes in, by which time the headset has given up and is needing a charge. The battery life seems to be pretty good, so no need to worry about that.

The issue I have with power is the way you charge the headset – via USB. You can only charge it via USB, and there is no alternative, no batteries you can replace etc. This can be a little inconvenient, especially as it doesn’t come with a USB plug adaptor, but I am sure it will work okay with the one I use for my iPod, or the one I use for my camera. Don’t take my word for that, I wouldn’t want to blow your headset – if you have one or are getting one!

Value for Money?

Here comes the killer question: is the SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset value for money? I try to evaluate every product I review using value for money, so it is a good test. The headset retails at £24.99, which is reasonable, but I think it depends what you need it for. If you are going to be making calls wireless and listening to music, go for it. If you just want to listen to music (like me) then I am not so sure. There are different headphones more suited to music listeners, but this set does give you the added bonus of being able to make calls.

SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth HeadphonesInterested in buying a set, or just want to read a bit more? Check out the SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset on Mobile Fun’s website.

As I said at the beginning of the article, this product has been sent to Technology Bloggers to review. Our thanks to Mobile Fun who provided us with the headset.

Categories
Computers How To Guides

Steps to Take Before Throwing Away Your Old PC

In 2010, the FTC recorded over 250,000 complaints of identity theft in the United States. While many identity thieves still get their information from your paper mail, a stolen purse or wallet, or hacked files online, more and more are starting to glean sensitive information from the hard drives of old computers. If you’re getting ready to toss out your desktop or laptop in favor of a newer model, take these steps to protect yourself from identity theft.

What information might be stored?

Not sure it’s worth all that work to wipe your hard drive? After all, you don’t keep a ton of important information on your computer, so what could a hacker possibly find anyway; and if you’re just donating your computer or selling it for cheap, what are the odds that an identity thief is going to get his hands on it?

The problem with this line of thinking is that often times, your computer has stored information that you don’t even know it has stored.

Common information stored on computers includes account numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, registration keys for software programs that you use, medical information, addresses, and even tax returns – which contain pretty much all the personal information necessary for a someone to apply for a credit card or bank loan in your name!

Keep in mind that many identity thieves will actually buy a used computer – or even steal a donated one – in the hope of gleaning such personal information. This information can be worth thousands of dollars to them and can create a huge headache – and financial problems – for you.

How to get rid of the data

So, before you sell your computer or donate it to your local school system, take these steps to get rid of the data for good:

1. Don’t count of just deleting the files. While you’ll want to delete the files from your computer, this is just the first step to take. Identity thieves are often experts at getting deleted information from hard drives by using specialized software.

2. Save any files you want to keep. Before you wipe your hard drive, you will, of course, want to save any files you want to keep. You can transfer your data to a new computer, burn it to a CD, put it on a USB drive, or put it on an external hard drive – a particularly good option if you need to store a ton of files or information.

3. Use a utility program specifically meant to wipe your hard drive. Local tech stores will sell utility programs meant for this purpose that match up with your specific operating system. The best idea is to get a program that will overwrite or wipe the hard drive several times instead of just once, and you’ll definitely want a program that wipes the entire drive.

If you know your computer has particularly sensitive information on it and you don’t trust a utility program to get rid of the information, you can always destroy the hard drive physically.

Businesses in particular, often use hard drive shredding services, as their computers tend to have lots of personal information on both employees and customers of the business.

A hard disk shredder
A hard drive being shredded

Once you shred the hard drive, you can simply sell or donate the rest of the computer without it, and the new owner can then completely replace the hard drive.

Watching for identity theft

Even if you are careful to destroy information on your computer before you sell or donate it, it’s a good idea to be wary of potential identity theft.

Check your credit reports regularly to ensure that everything is accurate. Credit reports are normally the first place you’ll see evidence of identity theft when new accounts pop up that you didn’t open. If you do think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, get identity theft assistance as soon as possible.

Report the problem to the credit reporting bureaus, who will place a fraud alert on your account. Then close the new, fraudulent accounts. Finally, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and your local police department.

If you’ve taken steps to protect your personal information from being stolen, you may never have to deal with the problem of identity theft, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of what you should do if your identity should be stolen.

Categories
Computers Gadgets How To Guides Media Technology

DVD Creation with Video from a Flip Camera

Convert a Flip camera video to DVDSince the invention of portable video cameras people have been shooting video and making home movies. But now there are new hand held HD cameras such as the Flip and Vado which can shoot 720p HD video making home movies look better than ever. But what are you going to do with all that video now? The most logical and fun way to utilize this video is to create a DVD movie, and to do this you would use your Windows PC and some DVD burning software. This article will list what hardware and software to use that will make you a video master in no time at all.

Camcorder Options

The least expensive choices when it comes to shooting HD video is to use either a Flip HD camcorder from Cisco (no longer supported) or a Vado from Kodak. Both of these options are simple to use since they are a single function gadget, and usually under $200. Both shoot HD 720p video with the click of a button. It’s just as easy as taking a digital photo. Both offer on board memory for video storage, just be sure to choose a size big enough for the amount of video you are planning to shoot. Typical options come in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, even 32GB. You can always upgrade to a better video camcorder but expect to pay upwards of $500. Now that you know what camcorder to use it on to the big machinery.

Windows 7 Is Great for Video Editing

Even though editing video on a Mac is like a dream, this article will cater to the Windows users. So with that said your Windows PC needs to be up to date with better hardware including memory (4GB is recommended), video card (CUDA enhanced), Hard Drive space (just get a 1TB already), and processor (quad core is best). Since video editing is a very processor intensive task it’s a better choice to upgrade on hardware when necessary. Now onto the fun part of creating your DVD masterpiece.

Movie Converting and Burning Software

There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing a video converting software that will make a compliant DVD movie from your Flip video footage. The camera itself is bundled with a basic video application but the features are very limited so if you are looking to create a custom DVD with your special touches it would be best to look around for a few more editing options.

Two recommendations that I can make are to use Sothink HD Movie Maker or ConvertXtoDVD. Both are easy to use video to DVD converters but the main difference is that Sothink also supports Blu-Ray burning. This will allow you to capture and burn true HD video and retain that same resolution to the TV set. So both of these applications feature an easy drag and drop timeline where you add the videos in the order of your choosing, then select a few DVD menu design options and click the convert button. The result will be a properly formatted DVD or Blu-Ray in Sothink’s, which you can then take to your DVD/Blu-Ray player and enjoy on your TV just like a Hollywood formatted movie disc. You can review more DVD creators at burnworld.com.

Even if you don’t choose a software package like I recommend, there are plenty of other options to choose from which include more advanced authoring features for the more advanced user. But whatever you choose all video editing packages follow basically the same procedure for making your home movie, as follows.

First Add Your Video Files to the PC

Connecting the camcorder to the PC via USB or Firewire should prompt Windows to give you a few choices on what to do with the content on the camcorder. You can choose to copy directly to your hard drive or import using your authoring software of choice.

Then Edit the Video

Like I mentioned with the two recommended software choices, almost all video editing/authoring software packages use a timeline feature where you add the files in the order of your choosing. More advanced applications will even allow you to trip and crop the video giving your further control of the final outcome. In addition to this you can add text, sound effects, background music, and more to the video production. The better applications will have a preview window so you can view your changes to make sure it’s what you are looking for.

Finally, Burn to DVD

Now that you have finished adding files and editing video, it’s time to burn the production to a DVD or Blu-Ray. All software options will have a settings area for burning. This is where you will specify they type of disc to create. The more common choices are DVD, either DVD5 or DVD9 (dual layer), just choose the type based on the blank DVD’s that you have. If you want to burn to Blu-Ray be sure to use a Blu-Ray burner (sorry have to mention this because I get questions daily on why Blu-Ray won’t work in their DVD drive). There will also be a setting for the Video frame rate: in the UK and Europe “25 (PAL)” is the standard, for the USA select “29.97 (NTSC)”.

There may be more settings under an Advanced Tab, but these are the main settings to get you started. Now you are ready to select “Burn” and beginning making your DVD movie. The burn process only takes a few minutes with today’s burners.

I hope this article puts you down the right road for creating your own DVD movies from your Flip or other camcorder video.

Categories
Gadgets Technology

5 Most Popular Two-Factor Authentication Security Devices

As we had discussed before, one-factor authentication is not sufficient in order to have good security. Especially when we talk about sensitive transaction such as banking transactions, it is not secure anymore today if it were done only using username and static password.

Two-factor has to come into the IT security field to ensure that the correct person is authenticated. The items below are the five most popular methods used for any two-factor authentication.

1. Mobile OTP

Mobile One-Time Password
Mobile One-Time Password (OTP)

A very popular and cost saving method is to use a SMS gateway and send OTP (one-time password) to a mobile phone user. This method is used widely simply because everyone has a mobile phone today which means everyone can use two-factor authentication as long as the host of the application willing to invest and provide this service.

2. OTP Token

One-Time Password Token
One-Time Password (OTP) Token

OTP token works more or less the same as the Mobile OTP. The difference is that this is a separate device and the OTP can be generated immediately instead of waiting for the SMS gateway to send. As a result, it is more reliable than the Mobile OTP but additional cost needed to have this device.

3. PKI USB Token

Public Key Infrastructure Token
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Token

PKI USB Token offers the second best security in the market by beating off man in the middle attack such as phishing attack. However, PKI implementation needs an infrastructure where it is going to be costly. Due to the cost matter, PKI is not well known in certain countries as people will go for OTP to have the balance of security and investment cost.

4. EMV Cap OTP with Signature

Europay, MasterCard and VISA Cap One-Time Password with Signature
Europay, MasterCard and VISA (EMV) Cap One-Time Password (OTP) with Signature

EMV Cap OTP offers the best security around as it not only beats off the man in the middle attack, but also the man in the browser attack. This is simply because the user needs to sign the transaction using the EMV card reader instead of the web browser. As a result, the Trojan of the man in the browser will no longer work. The drawback is that, signing with transaction device can be a tedious thing to do. The user needs to enter correctly the recipient’s account number and the amount in order to perform the transaction successfully.

5. Out of Band Transaction Detail Verification

Out of Band
Out of Band

This method provides the best security similar to the above and solves as well the weakness of the EMV Cap OTP. What this method does is to send the user the details of the transaction such as the recipient’s account number, amount and the OTP code via non-internet channel such as voice call or SMS. The user will verify those details given and confirm the transaction by submitting the OTP code into the web browser. This gives great security but not anything more after that. Unlike PKI, that piece of digital certificate can do not only authentication signing, but also document signing, PDF signing or even data encryption.

Nothing is perfect in this world where everything has its good and bad. You have to clearly define what you want and I’m sure you can find the device that is suitable to you.

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Computers How To Guides Internet Technology

Selecting the best mobile broadband provider for you

When it comes to mobile broadband providers then the options are certainly plentiful, but picking the right one can be a little less straightforward, particularly if you’re not all that savvy with current deals.An O2 dongle pluged into a laptop

There are essentially two options open to you, with one route being the pay as you go option, while the other is the contract route. Both are good bets, although it really depends on your circumstances as to which one you’ll ultimately plump for.

Either way, you’ll need a mobile broadband dongle in order to connect to whichever network it is you end up going with. These are the small plastic USB devices that slot into an available port on your laptop or netbook in order to pick up the signal and there are many to choose from.

Some mobile broadband networks give these away with certain deals, while others may make a nominal charge for them. The great thing about going for a pay as you go dongle is that you don’t need to stick too any one deal and after you’ve used up the available credit you can move to a better deal that might have emerged.

Having said that, you’ll probably find that many mobile broadband providers generally offer more flexible deals when it comes to things like data allowances with contract offers. Pay as you go is handy as it doesn’t require a contract and you’re not tied down for any period of time, but if you need beefier download allowances then contract may be the better of the two.

Of course, knowing which network provider is going to be the best relies on a number of factors as well as this, so lookout for the speed offered, although this is often much more optimistic in advertising than it is in reality. Look too for what sort of monthly cost there will be if it’s a contract deal and also if there is any set-up cost initially.

Mobile broadband providers are always coming up with new deals and incentives to try and get you to sign on the dotted line. Lookout for free laptop deals, which get given to you in return for signing up to a longer contract. Other goodies include free dongles, extra airtime, calls for nothing and all manner of other goodies if you shop around.

And that is where the secret to finding the best mobile broadband provider lies. One of the best ways to get the deal to suit your requirement, and also your wallet, is to use the services of a broadband comparison website. This is a free and easy way of locating exactly the right deal and also comparing precise details with all of the other current options.

Read some reviews too and don’t forget to ask around or check with friends and work colleagues as to their own preferences. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of deals and a little bit of homework up front can pay big dividends in the long run.