Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem review: Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

Unlike the VL600, the Clear 4G+ modem doesn't allow text messaging, but it does come with the ability to manage the laptop's Wi-Fi connection. This allows you to switch between using the cellular connection and a Wi-Fi network conveniently in one place.

Data plans and performance
Like the VL600, the Clear 4G+ modem was very fast in our tests. However, in our trials, its download speeds fluctuated a lot from between 5Mbps and even 14Mbps. It's important to note that even at just 5Mbps, which is the slowest we experienced with the modem, the connection is still more than fast enough to stream high-def content and can download large files without much delay.

This might have occurred because we tested the device in our offices here in San Francisco, which is not one of the cities where Clear's 4G coverage is readily available, according to the company. We found that its speeds were the most consistent at around 9Mbps for download and 3Mbps for upload, which was still extremely fast. Your experience might vary depending on where you are in the U.S.

At this speed you can download a full DVD (around 800MB) in about 12 minutes and a full 1080p high-def movie (about 10GB) in about an hour and a half. The good news is that Clear offers its 4G+ modem with an unlimited 4G data plan for just $55/month. In contrast, the top-tier 4G data plan from Verizon offers the data allowance of just 10GB/month and costs a whopping $80. This means that with Clear, you can download or stream as many movies as you want without having to worry having to pay more (sometimes significantly) than the monthly fee.

Note that Clear's data plan for the 4G+ modem also includes the 3G portion, which is not limited but with an allowance of just 5GB/month; you'll have to pay another 5 cents for each additional megabyte. However, unless 4G is unavailable where you are, you won't need to resort to the 3G portion.

We found that the 4G+ modem becomes rather hot and remains so after about 15 minutes of use. Though it never got hot enough for us to worry, we were a little concerned and wondered if that would affect its life expectancy.

CNET's cellular Internet speeds (in Kbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Upload  
Download  
Verizon VL600 UB Modem (4G)
3,130 
12,288 
Clear 4G+ USB modem (4G)
3,072 
9,216 
Verizon Five Spot (3G)
700 
1,300 
Sprint MiFi 2200 (3G)
550 
1,000 
Verizon MiFi 2200 (3G)
500 
1,000 

Service and support
The Clear 4G+ comes with a standard one-year warranty for the hardware and the same support that Clear has for its other cellular services. The company offers 24-7 technical phone support, and at its Web site, you can also instantly chat with a customer service representative and find a section dedicated to the modem in case you need help getting started or troubleshooting problems.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

Part Number: CNETCLEAR4GS

MSRP: $115.00

See manufacturer website for availability.