Getting wifi set up in your car can have a range of benefits. From keeping the kids quiet with a movie, to getting the latest traffic updates, it is a sure fire way to help your journey become a little smoother.
We all want to travel in as much comfort as possible, right?
Top Picks: Best Car Wi-Fi Routers
More details on these further below. You can click the links above, which will take you to each portable wifi router within Amazon...
How To Get Wi-Fi In Your Car - The Options
From car wifi routers to buying a new car, there are a few different ways to get wifi in your car. Here are the main four!
Use A Smartphone
Smartphones seem like they have features for everything these days and wifi in your car is certainly no exception.
Most recently released smartphones will have the ability to turn themselves into a wifi hotspot. This simply means that it will allow other devices, such as laptop computers and tablets, to use its data.
If you have one of the latest smartphones with 4G functionality, and are in an area with a consistent signal, you can use your phone to get a blazing fast, consistent connection.
However, before you start letting your kids stream the latest blockbusters in 4K in the back of the car, be aware that data costs can be really expensive. Because of this it is essentially that you check with your network before using your phone as a wifi hotspot.
Also, even if you have unlimited data, some networks will still not allow you to use your phone as a hotspot. This means you may have to upgrade to a more expensive contract.
All in all though, using your phone as a wifi hotspot is a simple and efficient solution to the problem that requires very little startup cost(assuming you already have a smartphone)
Similar to using a smartphone for your wifi, a dongle is a device that creates a hotspot that allows other devices to connect to the internet.
The difference is that a dongle is a device that is dedicated to providing this hotspot. This can have a few advantages including the fact that you can simply leave your dongle in the car for when you need it.
As well as this your wifi dongle will come with its own contract. While this is an extra expense when compared to using your phone as a hotspot, depending on the data package you have on your phone and the data package you choose for your wifi dongle, it can end up being cheaper.
Many wifi dongles can be simply slotted into the USB port in your car meaning that unless for some reason you choose to remove it, you will have a constant wifi connection in your car.
These wifi dongles are available from most data networks.
Buy A Car With Integrated Internet And Wireless *Warning* - a very expensive option!!!
While, of course, it isn’t worth splashing out on a new car just for internet connectivity, if you are already considering buying a car it can be a useful feature to look for.
These built in, dedicated hotspots are likely to give you the most consistent connection and they will also be fully compatible with the car’s system. This means you can use features like maps, internet radio and real time traffic data.
The downside is that if you have a car for a long period of time, there is a chance that the integrated wifi could become outdated and the fact that it is built in will likely make it hard to replace.
Portable Wireless Routers
A portable wireless router is our final way to get wifi in your car. These dedicated routers will give you an excellent wifi connection, although come with the downside that without a dataplan you won’t have any internet connection.
What you will be able to do, however, is share files. This means, for example, that you could load up some movies on a shared hard drive, plug into the router, and have anyone in the car access the movies on their own device.
As well as this, your car wifi router can act as a wireless range extender which can access any wireless networks in the area to use their internet. This can be especially useful in places like on the road service stations.
Free Ways To Get Wireless Internet From Your Car
It is possible to get free wifi in your car by using public wifi hotspots. While you will lose your wifi connection when you leave the hotspot, if you just need a quick way to access the internet this can be a good way to do it.
Basically, all you need to do is search for a place that is likely to offer free wifi. This includes cafes, libraries and fast food restaurants. If you can grab a parking spot nearby you may be able to access their network and as such get a wifi connection in your car.
If you find that you can’t access the wifi on your phone or computer, many of the in-car routers below also act as wifi range extenders which extend the length of an existing wifi signal.
This may give you a much better in-car wifi experience, but perhaps would be even more useful in scenarios when you or your family are out of the car (but still near it of course). For example, if you park up for a picnic and want to connect to Wifi...the portable router will extend the wifi it is connecting to.
Installing Wi-Fi In Your Car
How you install wifi in your car will obviously depend on the method you choose to use.
Using your smartphone as a wireless hotspot will simply require you to turn the feature on on your phone, set a password and then connect to the network using a different device.
Likewise, using a wireless dongle as a hotspot simply requires you to turn your dongle on and connect as you would with any other network.
If you use a portable wifi router you will simply need to turn the router on and connect, although if you want to connect to a wifi network there may be some setup involved.
Best Wi-Fi Routers For Your Car
TP-Link TL-MR3020 3G/4G Wireless N150 Portable router
- Compatible with select USB modems/dongles for internet access on the go.
- Well designed and solid device.
- Offers the ability to share a 3G/4G mobile connection if available.
- Massive two year warranty and unlimited technical support.
This router provides a great number of options for wireless on the go and is perfect for those who want a little more out of their portable router.
HooToo HT-TM05 Wireless Travel Portable Router
- Perfect for watching movies in the car as you can stream media to your connected tablets, PCs and media players.
- Extend the range of wireless networks with bridging.
- Cool looking and stylish device.
- Excellent battery life.
- Supports Chromecast.
This powerful router has a great battery life and a range of high end features. This is a great product both for use in the car and also in any other situations where you may need a portable wifi network.
HooToo HT-TM02 Wireless Portable Travel Router
- Boost wifi signal by extending an existing connection.
- Share files stored on an external storage device with up to five other devices.
- One year warranty shows how confident the brand are in their product.
- Only able to stream files using a dedicated app.
- Gives you wireless access for a comparatively cheap price.
This budget offering is perfect for those users that want a simple way to setup a wifi network in their car or on the go.
In conclusion there are plenty of ways to get wifi access in your car.
The simplest, due to the fact that most people already own the equipment needed, is to use your smartphone to create a wireless hotspot.
If you are likely to use the internet a lot in your car, buying a dedicated dongle with a data subscription could save you money in the long run despite the extra costs involved. You could plug the dongle into a portable router (make sure they are compatible) and share the internet out via wifi to other nodes.
If you are simply looking for a way to setup a wifi network in your car, buying a portable wireless router will allow you to share files and work as a wireless network extender.
Of course, if you are feeling especially flush and really need wifi, you could always buy a brand new car with built in wifi functionality! You would have more money that sense to go down this route! If you are actually looking for a new car, this is actually an option to consider
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