My Lenovo ThinkPad has a built-in 3G radio, but I would need to use AT&T if I wanted to use the internal wireless card. I could also get a 3G mobile broadband USB card for any of the major wireless providers in my area. Does it make sense to get a separate card if I can also tether?
The only reason it doesn't make sense is money. If you're trying to save money, then tether.
Otherwise, here are several reasons why you should consider a dedicated 3G wireless card for your mobile computer:
- Save battery life on your smartphone. (smartphones can have trouble charging if you're connecting via a USB cable to tether)
- Talk and surf. If you're tethering, you can't talk and surf simultaneously. So, if you need Internet access while you're talking on the phone, you'll need a separate connection.
- Reliable connection. Tethering is reliable, but not as reliable as a dedicated broadband card.
- Heat. Tethering will probably heat up your smartphone. That can also lead to a shorter battery life span.
- Sharing. Do you ever need to share that 3G broadband wireless card? It's much more difficult to share your smartphone.
- Bulk. Why have anything connected to your mobile device if your computer has an internal built-in radio?