I'm looking for a way to connect to the internet through 4G/LTE and have the ability to secure my own traffic, browse primarily text-based sites (read: I don't need serious media streaming capability), while having the portability of a tablet. I don't need anything super-powerful or fast, and I'm open to the idea of having the modem be external or internal.

The main hurdle I've run into is I just don't know what's out there that fits that need, because I've always stuck strictly with a phone on a data package, or a PC on a LAN, so I'm not familiar with everything in between. I know there are (for example) tablets with built-in modems, but I don't know if that's what I should be looking for or if I should get an external modem and hook it up to a cheap tablet/ultra-light laptop. I also don't know which providers have plans that would easily accommodate this (I'm only familiar with Verizon's hot spots and tethering).

The solution should be:

  1. Highly portable
  2. Able to use a physical keyboard/mouse
  3. Able to browse the internet at a reasonable speed
  4. Able to route all my traffic through a VPN without any restriction
  5. Preferably able to run Kali or similar
  6. Cost-effective (for example it would be nice if the data plan could scale to my use each month)

As stated before, this could be an external modem and device combo, or just a single device with a built-in modem. It should be larger and easier to use for typing/browsing than a phone, but smaller and lighter than a regular laptop. Please make recommendations of devices and providers that could fit the bill, especially if you've used them personally.

  • Kali's not that great if you want to secure your browsing -- it's designed for penetration testing, not security. You'd be better off with something like Tails with persistent storage, which has somewhat different hardware requirements.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 20:53
  • I'll have to look into Tails then, I've just used Kali in the past because it's so easy to monitor/tweak my own network interfaces, and it's got a great development community
    – thanby
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:04
  • I'm confused as to what "secure my own traffic" constitutes. You stated "VPN" and the ability to run Kali, but basically any computer with a tethered internet connection (be it a carrier provided WAP or phone) should be able to do this, as the data connection is separate from the security. Would you prefer a computer with built-in cellular capabilities? Do you want it that all traffic through this VPN on some hardware level? On a system level? On a network level? Why? Do you already have a phone or laptop? If so, why don't those fit the bill?
    – JMY1000
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 3:48
  • My current laptop is for work only and has highly restrictive policies. I want something super-lightweight that I can carry around with it for accessing domains/content that would otherwise be blocked. Its internet access needs to be physically separate from the company network for security reasons, hence using something like a 4G modem (built-in or otherwise). Aside from that I need a bit larger screen than a phone, and the ability to attach a keyboard. My main concern is just how can I effectively connect to the internet with such a device? Built-in modem? External? Recommendations?
    – thanby
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


After discussion in the comments and some researching, it looks like the best solution is going to be simply expanding my data package to account for wi-fi tethering, and combining that with a simple tablet or other device. I'm actually looking into building my own to make sure I get the power and features I want.

So the solution, in a nutshell:

  1. Upgraded data package from my phone provider, for tethering
  2. Home-brewed lightweight device based on a single-board computer (SBD) that can simply be built with everything I need as far as ports, peripherals, screen, etc.
  3. VPN to keep traffic secured

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