Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290
Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290

Best USB modem for mobile broadband

For connecting your laptop to the fastest mobile broadband speeds, experts say a USB modem is usually your best bet -- and the Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290 is their top pick. Three top testing organizations report average download speeds of 16 Mbps or better on Verizon's 4G network (the Pantech is also 3G-compatible). The Pantech's swiveling body lets users plug in the 3.5-inch model at an angle, so it doesn't stick out awkwardly from the laptop. If you want to hook up multiple devices to your mobile broadband simultaneously, you'll need a mobile hotspot like the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L (*Est. $100 with two-year contract) or T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot Prepaid (*Est. $130).
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*Est. $50 with two-year contract Estimated Price
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L

Best mobile hotspot

A USB modem can connect only one laptop to the Internet at a time, but with a mobile hotspot you can create a personal Wi-Fi cloud for up to five devices. Again, experts say Verizon's 4G network delivers by far the fastest mobile broadband speeds -- and Verizon's best mobile hotspot is the LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L. Resembling a thick credit card, the MiFi 4510L beams its Wi-Fi signal up to 100 feet (although you'll get the best speeds if you stick within 25 feet of the device). With 4G, testers report speedy downloads from 7 to 20 Mbps and uploads of about 4 to 10 Mbps -- just slightly slower than Verizon's top-rated USB modem, the Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290 (*Est. $50 with two-year contract). The MiFi 4510L is also 3G-compatible.
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*Est. $100 with two-year contract Estimated Price
T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot Prepaid
T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot Prepaid

Best prepaid mobile broadband device

Unlike other carriers, T-Mobile offers its fastest 4G service to prepaid customers. The T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot Prepaid achieves average download speeds of 2 to 8.4 Mbps in tests -- not as fast as the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L (*Est. $100 with two-year contract), but fast enough to stream Netflix movies and so forth. It reverts to 3G in non-4G areas, so check coverage in your area before buying. Like the Verizon hotspot, the T-Mobile Hotspot fits in your picket and beams a Wi-Fi signal that up to five devices can share. Although you can get the Verizon hotspot with a month-to-month contract, T-Mobile offers a true prepaid option with no contract and no credit check. Choose from a 100 MB week pass (*Est. $10) or month-long plans of 1 GB (*Est. $30) or 3 GB (*Est. $50).
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*Est. $130 Estimated Price
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