For the love of speed! Which 4G device is right for you

By Patrick Avenell

Everybody loves speed! Whether it’s Fernando Alonso winning the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Billy Slater scoring the greatest Origin try ever or Sandra Bullock driving a bus, speed is a unifying force of good in our world.

Unlike the boat in Speed’s very slow sequel, Telstra’s new 4G LTE network is much faster than the 3G networks we’ve grown to love (mostly) since the arrival of the smartphone. But which of the five currently available 4G products is best for you?

Utilising a combination of crowdsourcing and spare time, I’ve come up with the following Venn diagram as a guide:

The first release was Telstra’s USB 4G dongle, which is limited in its application as it requires a physical connection to your PC or Mac to operate. This product is slightly cheaper than the Mobile Wi-Fi 4G hotspot released last week ($45 based on the minimum cost over 24 months), so unless you are absolutely certain that you never want to share your 4G with another device (a tablet, for example) or another person (a friend, for example), this is the product for you. As this would be an individual and reliable connection, this would be the best for mostly work-based applications.

For the purely playful, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G is my pick. This is a dedicated 4G tablet with all the great features of Samsung’s tablet range and, unlike the iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, the alphanumerical suffix is not simply an affectation. If your 4G ambitions revolve around watching Robin van Persie’s goal against Everton time and again while sipping lattes in Federation Square, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G will definitely make you happy – happy like Robin van Persie after his near-identical goal against Liverpool.

The third major circle in the diagram is dedicated to those consumers who purchase for status rather than functionality. If you’re one of the consumers who simply must have a fruit shadow marque on their product and refuse to accept that Apple is confusing the market with its gross misrepresentation, then you may just deserve to be disappointed. For that reason, I’ve put the iPad Wi-Fi + 4G (which, to be clear, is not 4G in Australia) in that circle.

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It’s within the ellipses that the really attractive 4G options reside. If, like Eve, you have given in to Apple’s temptation, the aforementioned 4G hotspot from Telstra is a great option. Adding 4G to the new iPad is like adding Usain Bolt to the 100 metres sprint – everything becomes faster. For that reason, consumers looking for a mixture of superfast downtime (oxymoron?) whilst retaining the Apple branding should pay the extra $45 for the hotspot. Plus, if you want to make some of your investment back, you can charge your friends a premium to leach off your device.

The two 4G smartphones sit nestled between Work and Status and Work and Play. I’ve put the HTC Velocity 4G in between Work and Play as the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer has done a lot of great work to make its devices ideal multimedia conduits. The screen on the Velocity is qHD (540 x 960) and there’s a MicroSD card slot for loading up an extra 32GB of speed-based films, such as Chariots Of Fire, The Running Man and Days Of Thunder.

For a healthy mixture of Work and Status, the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G is the best choice. The original Galaxy S II was the best reviewed Android phone of 2011 (so it works), while its position as the most recently released 4G product means there is plenty of gravitas to be had from casually taking it out of your anorak pocket next time you’re out and about within 5 kilometres of a capital city CBD or one of the 80 metropolitan and regional areas currently serviced by Telstra’s 4G network.

Finally, I’ve left the centre of this Venn Diagram (which I am unreliably told is called The Venn) with only question marks as nothing is more aspirational than speed, so we should never settle for what we’ve got. Just as Bob Hayes’ World Record sprint to win the 100 Metres Final at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics would not be good enough for him to even qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, so too should we never settle for the speeds we’ve got.

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