Is Integrated Wireless Broadband the Best Choice for You?

If you’re not familiar with “netbooks”, you’re missing out on a potentially great little web-working tool. And I do mean little as these are small, fully-functional notebooks that are easy to use on the go. They tend to offer long battery life as well, due to low-voltage processors and small, LED backlit displays.

There’s a new functional trend emerging with these portable productivity tools now that Asus is starting to offer integrated wireless broadband in the product line.

But that begs a question about wireless connectivity: do you go with integrated or opt for a plug-in solution?

The answer is a personal choice of course, but there’s a key factor involved: do you plan to web work on a single device or will you be using several? If you’re going to work mainly using just one device, an integrated solution ought to work just fine. There’s a wireless radio inside the device, similar to a WiFi or Bluetooth card, and you can seamlessly connect to the web anywhere your provider offers coverage. It’s as simple as using WiFi to connect to a hotspot: it just works.

Using more than one device though? Here’s where it gets sketchy because that wireless broadband card in your notebook only offers fast Internet service to that notebook. There are software solutions to share that connection by essentially creating a WiFi hotspot, but that means you have to have the computer with you. At that point you might as well use that one in lieu of any other that doesn’t have wireless broadband, right?

Multiple device owners are better served with a card or dongle that offers the same 3G capability. You can find them available in a number of form factors: PC Card, ExpressCard and USB.

I opted for this small USB device shown which works with every one of my PCs and Macs. This allows me to be connected to the Internet wherever I am and with whatever device I have with me.

Remember, these wireless 3G plans can set you back around $60 a month: why limit the plan to just a single device if you have many that can use it?