For the fastest possible mobile broadband connection, experts recommend using a USB modem -- and the Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290 comes more highly recommended than any other current model. It won't let you connect multiple devices at once -- for that, you'll need a mobile hotspot like the top-rated Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L (*Est. $100 with two-year contract). But it will give you a slightly faster connection, and there's no battery to run dead like on the MiFi.
Like all USB modems, the Pantech plugs directly into a USB port. Unlike others, the Pantech's USB connector swivels, so you can twist the 3.5-inch stick so it doesn't stick straight out to the side, making it less likely that you'll bang it against something and damage both the modem and your USB port. The Pantech impresses experts with its speeds -- in 4G tests, it averages 16 Mbps download speeds or better, and 5.5 Mbps upload -- but a lot of customers report that the Pantech frequently drops their Internet connection. Laptop Magazine's tester sometimes has the same problem with the Pantech in a moving vehicle (especially when crossing from a 4G area to 3G, or vice versa) but no problem on other trips, and says the connection's most stable when the swiveling door (which doubles as an antenna) over the USB connector is closed. PCMag.com reviewers report no dropped connections in their test.
Experts at PCMag.com, Laptop Magazine and Mobile-Broadband-Reviews.com all publish thorough tests of the Verizon Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290. Customer feedback at VerizonWireless.com isn't as glowing as the expert reviews.
The Pantech UML290 is Verizon's best USB modem, says PCMag.com, which has tested them all. It delivers consistently fast connection speeds, with a swiveling design that's less prone to breaking and an antenna port.
Review: Pantech UML290 (Verizon Wireless), Alex Colon and Sascha Segan, Jan. 25, 2011
2. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine finds the same things to like about the Pantech UML290 as PCMag.com -- but the modem frequently drops connections in a moving vehicle, which keeps it from being an Editors' Choice.
Review: Pantech UML290 4G USB Modem (Verizon Wireless) Review, Mark Spoonauer, Jan. 21, 2011
Marc Aarons' top pick for a USB modem on the Verizon network is the Pantech UML290. This roundup compares all of Verizon's mobile broadband devices and links to a full review for the Pantech.
Review: Verizon 4G Broadband Cards and Mobile Hotspots: 2011 Review, Marc Aarons, April 8, 2011
With more than 170 customer reviews posted, the Pantech UML290 averages only 2 stars out of 5. Some owners report no problems, but others say the Pantech constantly drops its connection.
Review: Pantech 4G LTE USB Modem UML290, Contributors to VerizonWireless.com