3G USB dongle to go with Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jackyyeow, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. jackyyeow, Aug 11, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011

    jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    What's up all, I tried to use my ZTE 3G USB dongle connecting to my MBA 2010 13" since I need 3G network when I'm on the move. I get great battery life about 7~8 hours of light surfing via Wifi, but as soon as I stick that in, I get about 3 hours. Boy this 3G dongle is hungry on battery juice!

    I wonder if you have suggestion on other 3G dongle? This doesn't seems right, my brother's using netbook with extended battery (more or less same as the MBA in battery capacity) and he get about 6 hours. I know I can't compare with 2 entire different category of laptop with different OS, but the difference is so great that I wonder what went wrong.

    Hope to hear your opinion on this, or I might just apply for 3G package on top of my mobile phone monthly charges and tether via bluetooth. Since I don't use 3G often, maybe max 1 hour straight, I don't want to compromise any battery life just because of the 3G dongle - I'm using the MBA for other offline stuffs.
  2. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    where is the dongle inserted?

    Is it possible to turn off your local wifi, and keep the dongle on? that could save you some much needed power. :D
  3. jackyyeow thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Oops, never stated it's a USB 3G dongle.:eek:

    I switched every connectivity things off - BT and Wifi. Close every app that possibly using internet traffic.

    Even just idling I'm not seeing any increase in battery life.

    I hope anyone can share their experiences on using 3G USB dongles and the battery life.
  4. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    Why not get a 3g router, you'll connect with Wifi, never knew those dongles sip so much power :S
  5. jackyyeow thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    I'm planning to get a mifi instead, or sign up for 3G data packages on my phone not going to carry a 3G router around.:p

    Yes, a bummer indeed that these (this?) USB sticks suck so much power. However, the figure just doesn't look right, because I don't recall the stick sucking as much power in windows/netbook combination - at least it doesn't give that much of battery life differences, even if the USB's 500mA is fully occupied by the 3G dongle. Maybe a OSX thingy? Sorry I'm pretty new to Mac so I don't really know.
  6. jackyyeow thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Found an old thread about this:

    Interesting to note that 3G USB dongle can suck up as much as 5 times more than Wifi when both are at max power consumption. That kinda explained why I'm getting the battery life I see.

    Anymore recommendation rather than going the tether/mifi route? I still find using the dongle the most convenient. If anyone getting good battery life result like around 5 hours then it's more reasonable to use 3G USB dongle.
  7. jlblodgett macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008

    I have been thinking about a 3G router - but isn't that just another thing you have to carry around? And another power cord, to boot?

    At least a USB 3G would be somewhat portable, and would draw power from the laptop, itself.

    I still wish they'd put a 3G chip into the MBA. Would have been a really nice feature.
  8. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    I guess it does depend on where you're using it, down here we still have unlimited data plans so the sensible thing to do is pay the 25$ for it and use the iphone as a wifi hotspot.

    A friend is renting and doesn't want to pay for phone+dsl so he has a 3G router so his laptop and phone with no data plan have internet.

    I was looking at this dlink one: http://www.dlink.com.sg/products/?idproduct=437 and it seems portable enough and when it runs out of battery you can connect it to laptop, or one of the huawei mifis
  9. Cagle macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    I just signed up for the AT&T MiFi, its $50 after rebate and costs $35 a month for 3GB. The thing is tiny and can easily be carried in your pocket. Only downside is 4 hour battery life, but it can operate while charging so its not too bad
  10. jackyyeow thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    To me it's more than enough, 4 hours on single charge going to last me at least 2 days of usage. However if I go the mifi route it's quite a bit of extra money to invest by buying a hacked one, unless I cancel my current 3G plan and apply another one that come with mifi package since my current plan isn't tied to contract anyway.

    So nobody seems to be using 3G USB dongle nowadays?:confused:
  11. jackyyeow thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Ok, apparently the 3G dongle's connection manager is freakin hogging the CPU and constantly running at more than 10% CPU. Used the build in OSX connection manager and CPU has since running normally. Haven't done the test on battery yet but I'm expecting at least 4~5 hours instead of more less than 3 hours. Just a head up for those who have the same problem.
  12. Brandon0448 macrumors 6502


    Aug 2, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    I tether via bluetooth to my phone, uses very little battery and is very easy and fast to connect to. Just have to tell my computer to connect to my phone and it automatically starts tethering.

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