When mobile professionals need Internet access from the road, they frequently have multiple connection options available at any given location. For example, you might have access to an Ethernet jack, one or more Wi-Fi networks, and perhaps even 3G/4G connectivity, too.
Windows has the capability to connect to several networks at once, so when you link your notebook to several of the aforementioned network types, they're all available to use simultaneously. But if you thought this would automatically place the most demanding tasks (e.g. media streaming) on the fastest available connection, or boost your download speed by pulling files down across multiple links simultaneously, you'd be wrong. Windows can use multiple connections, but not in any particularly intelligent or efficient way.
Connectify Dispatch, on the other hand, manages a cornucopia of connectivity to maximize performance and reliability. By merging all of your available Internet connections so that they act as one, Dispatch lets files and Web pages download faster. It also monitors the characteristics of each connection to determine which one should be used for a particular type of network traffic. Finally, it provides failover so that if one connection goes south, the others can keep the data flowing.
In our testing, we found that Dispatch (which was born last year on Kickstarter) does what it promises, although the practical benefit it delivers can vary considerably depending on your circumstances and equipment.
Let's Talk Pricing
Normally we address pricing toward the end of the review, but in this case we'll deal with it up front. The software is sold by subscription – but the pricing seems somewhat malleable depending on when you check and from where.
Figure 1: Through Connectify Dispatch's dashboard, you can enable or disable the software and see how much total bandwidth you have available (as well as how much you're currently using).
For example, the day we downloaded the software, Dispatch pricing was listed at $10 for a three-month subscription, $35 for an annual one, or $55 for a "lifetime subscription" to Dispatch bundled with the company's Hotspot Pro software. That was on a Windows 7 PC.
When we happened to check the same day from Internet Explorer or Firefox (18) on a Windows 8 PC, the price list was quite a bit different, with no standalone Dispatch subscription options offered, and the aforementioned lifetime bundle listed for $64 rather than $55. From Chrome on Windows 8, the pricing was the same as on a Windows 7 PC, which was the same irrespective of browser.
A couple of days later we checked the pricing again, and the price for the lifetime bundle was listed as $59 -- either a $4 hike or a $5 discount depending on your perspective. We tried contacting Connectify for an explanation, but we didn't receive a response. Perhaps prices will have stabilized by the time you read this. Note that currently, pricing seems to be holding at $12 per quarter and $45 for a lifetime subscription.