Is it a smartphone? Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop?

With home broadband being so much part of our daily lives now, more and more of us want to take that experience with us when we head out and about too. Whether it’s on our commute, at work, on holiday or wherever you’re relaxing, it’s great to be able to get online. But what is the best option for you?


Currently the most popular way to get online on the move, accessing mobile broadband through your smartphone can be a fantastic option. First, it’s usually the cheapest. Many mobile contracts have data usage built in, while you can often pick up a very cheap (sometimes even free) smartphone as part of the deal. Once your smartphone is up and running, getting online or checking up on your social network status is as simple as pressing a button. Due to the small screen, many websites and social networks have special mobile versions that will use up a lot less data as they tend to be less image heavy, while sites such as YouTube will deliver lower res versions of videos.

Tablet PCs

Of course the compression of images and videos, plus a poorer web experience, is precisely why some people shy away from using a smartphone as their primary means to use mobile broadband. Tablets tend to have screens in the range of seven to 10 inches, so can offer the full browsing experience. And it makes a massive difference if you want to watch video too, perfect for holidays or commuting – that screen makes all the difference, while a tablet’s improved storage capacity over a smartphone lets you put quite a few movies on there too. At the same time they’re still very portable, slipping easily into a bag, while using the same simple icons and apps approach made so popular with recent smartphones. The bigger screen also makes typing a simpler exercise, making it easier for both work and social networking.

Laptops and Netbooks

But really, if you’re going to need to work, a laptop or netbook may still be the best option. A few have mobile broadband built in, but if not carrying a dongle or mobile broadband Wi-Fi modem in your pocket isn’t any hassle at all. You can have a screen ranging anywhere from 10 to 20 inches, plus a full keyboard, essentially allowing you to bring your entire home or office PC experience with you on the road. With better models you’ll have unrivalled processing power and internal storage, often even enough to give you a full PC gaming experience, let alone a better video and internet one. The only real downsides are, of course, size and weight. Is all this extra functionality worth the extra hassle of lugging it around? For some, it certainly will be.

Making the choice comes down to a few simple decisions – convenience over practicality when it comes to usage. Weigh up what you really need mobile broadband for, then make your decision accordingly.

Chris Marling writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the online advice site and comparison service for UK broadband offers, smartphones and tablets.

Editor’s Note: Please take a moment to tell us what your preference is and why in the comments – thanks!