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Wireless Networking Communications Toys Hardware

A Real-World Test of the Verizon MiFi 118

Posted by kdawson
from the cool-things-in-small-packages dept.
uninet writes "Over the course of a few days last week, I was able to spend a good deal of time with Verizon's amazing little MiFi 3G router. It admirably performed its task of providing speedy Wi-Fi Internet to other devices via an EvDO Rev. A connection. Ironically, the device even improved the experience of using the iPhone, making it usable for surfing where its native network (AT&T) doesn't even connect."
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A Real-World Test of the Verizon MiFi

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  • I know, it's all wow-ee-wow-oo-oo, but I'm still not impressed. If you're on the road a lot and can justify the extra cost of cellular access, yes, it's very cool. For everyone else, not so much. I just can't pay for a home plan and a wireless plan or multiple wireless plans for myself and my family. It's a luxury I can't justify.

    We've got phones that are palmtop computing devices, internet access devices, phones, cameras, video cameras, and music/video players all in one. Device makers are embracing the mantra of integration. Is it that the wired arms of the telcos can't vertically integrate home and wireless access into affordable bundles due to anti-trust concerns or is it that they currently see that keeping them separate maximizes profit because the market just isn't demanding "internet anywhere" convenience at a workable price point?
    • by areusche (1297613) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:13PM (#28188789)
      On a side note, WMWifirouter has been able to do this on Windows Mobile smartphones for a while now. It's constantly being worked on and the speeds are definitely acceptable. The link for it http://www.wmwifirouter.com/ [wmwifirouter.com]
      • by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @07:51PM (#28189831)

        Mod parent down.

        He talks about an actively-developed, real-world, useful, cheap Windows Mobile application and doesn't shit on it.

        This is not the slashdot way.

        • by ewolfr (209134)

          http://global.wmwifirouter.com/features/ [wmwifirouter.com]

          Here's a dumb question though...on the features page listed above the dev only talks about 64 and 128 bit WEP. For years everyone has said, "Don't use WEP!" Do anyone feel unsafe using this program on their Windows Mobile phone because it doesn't support WPA?

          • I don't use it, but it wouldn't bother me.
            The damned range of a cell's wifi is so short that people would have to be up your ass to do anything mischievous.

            Either way:
            Support for sharing your cellular data connection over bluetooth and usb

            I would just tether via USB (which is what I can do now, for free, directly from my phone's OS).

      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        There are similar for other phones too, for example http://www.joiku.com/index.php [joiku.com]

      • by fm6 (162816)

        Very cool. One teeny tiny problem: using a cell phone this way without a special (very expensive) plan is probably against your terms of service. Don't know what the odds are of getting caught, but if you are caught, you'll get a bill itemizing every packet you sent this way. We're talking thousands of dollars.

      • by pacinpm (631330)

        Isn't simplier and cheaper to just use your cellphone as a modem through Bluetooth?

      • WMWifirouter works great, I got over 2mbps constant throughput with multiple laptops connecting over 1 cellphone (that's faster than the cheapest ADSL here). And an unlimited mobile data plan is less than 10 euro in the Netherlands! Only one problem though: the battery drains fast. Even when charging with USB the battery still slowly leaks to 0 and the temperature of the phone goes up. Good thing the program comes with some thermal-overload-shutdown before your phone explodes while you're browsing the inter
      • Or if you have a Nokia, you can get Joiku (its freeware lite version is limited to http traffic only, and it takes at least 2 minutes to first start really working -- thought I have no idea why. And on the unlimited data plan of T-Mobile it will still be slow when you're browsing with it, but it's still a nice piece of freeware to have just in case you ever in need of a hot-spot). http://joiku.com/ [joiku.com]
    • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:26PM (#28188939)
      The delay in integration is because spectrum and construction costs for wireless broadband are still high enough to allow it to compete economically with wired alternatives. Wireless broadband has been and still is a product for people more concerned with ubiquity and convenience than cost or bandwidth.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        The delay in integration is because spectrum and construction costs for wireless broadband are still high enough to allow it to compete economically with wired alternatives. Wireless broadband has been and still is a product for people more concerned with ubiquity and convenience than cost or bandwidth.

        This wireless broadband service in Hong Kong:( http://www.smartone-vodafone.com/jsp/mobile/home_broadband/english/faq.jsp [smartone-vodafone.com] )is US$19/month for unlimited usage, slightly cheaper than standard ADSL services, a

        • by atamido (1020905)

          No, wireless broadband depends heavily on not having too dense of a user population within a cell. For instance, try using a data connection in Disneyland with thousands of phones making little data connections constantly. It just won't happen. If everyone in the area started using the service, they'd be lucky to get dialup speeds, and there's not a darn thing they can do about it. It's all shared bandwidth, and there's only so much spectrum to go around (which is why spectrum is so expensive).

          Wired doe

    • by Sporkinum (655143)

      Heck with that.. I can't justify a cell phone. I have one that work supplied. The only personal use is for the occasional pick up a gallon of milk call.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      If you're on the road a lot and can justify the extra cost of cellular access, yes, it's very cool. For everyone else, not so much.

      Uh, yeah. That's true for this kind of internet connection in general. That's not exactly news.

      This is one important difference: you can go on a plan where you only pay for access on the days you actually use it. That means you have to pay full price for the router, but it still would work for a lot of people who travel sporadically. Or an office where one person is often on the road, but not always the same person.

      • by maxume (22995)

        The daily rate is even more absurdly expensive than the subscription.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Huh? $15? If I was on a business trip, I'd spend a lot more than that just avoid having to search for a hotspot every time I needed to go online.

          Yeah, it's way too expensive if you just randomly need internet access. That's not the use case. Why do Slashdotters keep insisting that what they need is all that anybody needs?

          • by maxume (22995)

            I do it because I am ridiculously self-centered.

            I agree that there are lots of situations that would justify the cost, but the cost still trips my internal "out of line with what is remotely reasonable" switch. In my personal bubble, 5 Gigabyte monthly access should cost $10 (or maybe $15). The cap should also grow rather quickly, and there should probably be something built into the system that turns off (or turns down) the metering on towers that are lightly loaded.

            • My data plan is $20/month for unlimited usage.
              I can tether my phone via USB and use it as a modem.

              I wanted to upgrade my phone recently.
              Surprise surprise, they don't offer my current data plan anymore. Seems to be $25 for 5 GB and $35 for unlimited (or something). And they mention shit like "get email from up to X email addresses". Really? You mean you're going to limit (or try to?) how many email addresses I can clap on my phone?
              Or is this through your shitty email software/service (as opposed to the p

            • by fm6 (162816)

              Self- or un-self-centeredness is beside the point. This isn't about your personal issues, it's about economisc. In a market economy, $15 for something is "reasonable" if that's the right price point for maximizing profit.

              I agree that the way we pay for bandwidth in the U.S. is totally insane. But that's a systemic problem, not particularly connected to this one product.

              • by maxume (22995)

                Not considering that other people have different needs and so forth is pretty well related to being self-centered.

                As far as reasonable in a market economy, I wish the market was working better (and note, the company offering this product isn't making any profit on me...). One way to make the market work better is to try to get people who don't care about the money they are spending to care more about the money they are spending. Pointing out that even though the value they are receiving in exchange for the

        • by RDW (41497)

          Here in the UK, there are 3G PAYG tariffs from 2 GBP (~ $3.30 USD) per day (with no minimum charge per month). No idea if there's a pocket router available on any of these plans, but a cheap HSDPA USB stick modem is now cheaper to use (and obviously much more flexible) than many pay per day wifi hotspots.

          • by maxume (22995)

            I'm glad my sense of what it could cost (i.e., a good bit less than $15) isn't completely broken.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        BT currently have an offer for wired-broadband customers. If you're on their "Unlimited" package, you pay a GBP10 one time fee and get a free mobile internet "dongle". You then get 1GB of free usage a month for the duration of your DSL contract, only paying for any extra usage above that.

        GBP10 for 18 months of free occasional usage seems reasonable enough for the casual user. And if you're going to be a heavy user of mobile broadband, there are plenty of other contracts that can do you higher download limit

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Hey, if an American broadband provider offered that, I'd sign up instantly. But the broadband market here is less competitive than the one in Europe. Which is funny, because right-wing American politicians and pundits love to trash "European socialism".

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      Which wired arm of T-Mobile would you want to integrate their wireless service with? I don't think DT is coming to America any time soon.

      Just sayin'...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gbulmash (688770) *
        Which wired arm of T-Mobile would you want to integrate their wireless service with?

        And that's why I asked if there were potential anti-trust problems preventing such integration by Verizon, AT&T, etc. If they offered "internet anywhere" packages that bundled wired and wireless service, wireless providers without wired solutions could not compete on that playing field.
    • I use my Sprint wireless service as an "alternate" ISP while at work. I completely avoid the company routers, etc. Sure, I'm probably violating a policy or two, but whatever. I don't surf NSFW - generally - but I also don't care to give the company a say in where I go, or let them know where I've been.

      These things are great - could almost say life savers - for field service reps sent out into the wild. Try downloading a NIC driver for a NIC that's not working, yet. With my laptop and wireless modem, no

  • now whats worth more, having internet outside and where the At&T network is or carrying around a small wireless router that get signals from another company? just asking...

  • Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @05:59PM (#28188607)

    Ironically, the device even improved the experience of using the iPhone, making it usable for surfing where its native network (AT&T) doesn't even connect.

    How exactly is that "ironic"?

    • It's not. The submitter just doesn't understand what the term irony means. Popular misconception seems to be that people think that irony means something that is incongruent.
      • Re:Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:56PM (#28189275) Homepage Journal

        Hmm. Getting a signal for one wireless network but not another may not be "ironic" but it's not exactly "incongruent" either. It's not like all networks use the same towers. I think the best we can do here is "interesting".

        Ironically, word usage is often incongruent. Isn't that interesting?

      • Irony is not about reciprocity. If person A does thing X, and somehow it comes back and bites them in the ass, that is not ironic". Instead, "Irony is the use of words in a way to conceal true intention with literal intention. More clearly, irony is when you say one thing but mean another." [not the thing you are describing].

        Source: http://www.sc.tri-bit.com/Irony [tri-bit.com]

      • The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, now that is irony.

        </Bender>

      • Re:Irony (Score:5, Informative)

        by uninet (413687) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @09:29PM (#28190605) Homepage

        Note the Oxford English Dictionary on ironic: "happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this." That a Verizon device makes an iPhone more usable than AT&T's own network is precisely that.

        • Note the Oxford English Dictionary on ironic: "happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this."

          Although perhaps not quite as pleasing to anglophiles, Merriam-Webster also supports this sense for irony [merriam-webster.com]:

          3 a (1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity

        • by uninet (413687) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @09:59PM (#28190869) Homepage

          I mean to say Oxford American English Dictionary. The grand OED itself says:

          2. fig. A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In F. ironie du sort.)

          It goes on to note this usage has been around since at least the 17th century.

          • by grcumb (781340)

            I mean to say Oxford American English Dictionary. The grand OED itself says:

            2. fig. A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In F. ironie du sort.)

            It goes on to note this usage has been around since at least the 17th century.

            If it's been around that long, it's probably not irony any more. I bet it's nothing more than rustic by now.

            /me ducks and runs

          • by fm6 (162816)

            Note the phrase "mockery of the promise and fitness of things". You seem to be interpreting it to apply to any outcome that's a surprise. By that definition, "I thought the store was open on Sunday, but it's not" is irony. There has to be some kind of jarring note, as in "The Boston Celtics are mostly African-American".

            I suppose there's a jarring note here — if you assume that where one cell network has coverage, they all do. But that's a pretty dumb assumption.

        • by FireFly9 (1504637)
          This device is expensive! Datacaps are so lame, and charging $15 a day, please! What the iPhone should get is a better network. I believe any Slashdotter with his head screwed on right would not pay high costs for such a device.
      • by OS2toMAC (1327679)
        And I thought irony was what my wife does to my shirts!
    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#28188763) Homepage

      The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention; Now that is "irony!"

    • Obviously, you're losing touch with popular culture. "Irony" applies to anything that is NOT ironic. See: Alanis Morisette.

      Just like the word "literally" has come to mean "figuratively".

      It's a world gone mad, I tell you!
    • Obviously it's not irony. Since the device is black, it's "ebony".
    • It also tricks the iPhone into thinking you're on a faster network. This is just because the iPhone only differentiates between "I am connected to 3G" and "I am connected to WiFi".

      There's nothing surprising that the iPhone seems to perform better either.

  • Load tests? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:02PM (#28188647)
    I have a treo which does 3g on AT&T's (first cingular's) network. I would use the mobile test from dslreports.com on my treo to check my speed from various locations, just to play with my new toy. I got a pretty good feel for how fast it would go at my workplace, at my favorite lunch spots, etc and in different kinds of weather. The iphone came out and i saw a 25% drop in speed, the iphone 3g came out and i saw another 25% drop in speed. It seems like on most networks, if you want to get your advertised speeds, get away from where everybody is using it and attach to a cell tower without too many people attached. While these mifi tests may test the theoretical-realistic speeds (data transfer speeds in real world situations), if this catches on, users will experience realistic-realistic speeds (data transfer speeds in real world with real world congestion).

    Standard disclaimer may apply, a single user's empirical tests do not cover even a fraction of a percent of the real world. Please feel free to post your anecdotes which prove or disprove my anecdote.
    • by bzzfzz (1542813)
      On the other hand, carriers can (in most cases) reduce congestion by splitting cells when the traffic justifies it, just as they do with voice traffic.
    • by atamido (1020905)

      No, this is all true. There is only so much spectrum to be used in a wireless cell. Go to someplace like Disneyland and the data portion of your cell phone will be entirely useless. Newer wireless technologies are working on more efficient ways of transferring large amounts of data, but I don't see any way they can keep up with the rate that data usage is increasing at.

  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:09PM (#28188745)

    I'll probably go out and buy one before long. Despite the expense, the 5GB monthly cap, and the onerous contract terms, the only broadband choices where I live are EVDO and an older wireless system using Alvarion [alvarion.com] gear. I got my Alvarion setup five years ago and have been gladly paying $44 a month for, at best, 320kbps, using a rooftop parabolic antenna pointed at the nearest tower. I have a laptop with an EVDO setup but still have the Alvarion gear for other household members. I would love to get rid of it.

    Aside from people like me who can't get cable or DSL, devices like this work well for occasional users who are more concerned about convenience of installation than blazingly high speeds or the ability to download mountains of data. Clearwire [clearwire.com] has been selling similar services for quite some time.

    • The following picture was taken when the unit was sitting about 5 feet from my laptop. I'm using it as my uplink as I just moved into a new development with no neighbors to steal wifi from. Literally only 2 other (WPA2) networks are in range. Consequentially, this can't be blamed on interference:

      http://twitpic.com/6jafg [twitpic.com]

      Also funny, I had to reconnect twice while uploading that photo to twitpic earlier since the unit dropped my connection. The problem is intermittent and hurts all three devices connected to i

  • OH MAN! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by areusche (1297613) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:10PM (#28188749)
    Think of all the funny man-in-the-middle pranks you can play on desperate business travelers in airports with "free public wifi"!
    • by bzzfzz (1542813)

      Um, let's see, you suggest perpetrating MITM fraud using a service that requires a 1 year subscription and a credit check in an area where "free public wifi" is already available for you to use as a backhaul?

      Oh, I get it. The embedded platform of the MiFi router is easier to write MITM exploits for than your laptop.

      • free public wifi available in an airport? in 2009?

        do you actually fly?

        hell, it's rare to see free wifi in a hotel...

        • by BigDXLT (1218924)
          They do exist. Vancouver International (YVR) has free wifi.
        • Tampa International Airport (TPA) has free public WiFi.

        • by Buscador (1057444)
          On my most recent trip, I found free wi-fi in the only two airports where I checked for it--San Diego and Phnom Penh.
        • by Khyber (864651)

          What are you talking about? Every hotel I stayed at on my trip up and down the west coast and then out from CA to TN and back had free internet wifi AND ethernet jacks in lamps in the tables, and they're all different companies!

          • by CrayHill (703411)
            Ironically (yes, I saw the thread above...), the cheaper the hotel, the more likely it is to have free internet.
          • You must stay in dumps then. :) I've noticed the nicer the hotel, the more likely there is a charge for in-room Internet, although many have free Internet if you are willing to sit in a chair in the lobby.
            • by Khyber (864651)

              everything from desert roadside dumps to the Hilton overlooking SanFran's bay. All had free internet.

  • Got one. Love it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:15PM (#28188815)
    It does exactly what it's supposed to, it's tiny, fast, and very simple to administer. It's a shame that 5GB/month costs what it costs, but if you can put out one serious server fire or interact with a customer in a way that saves a deal, it's worth every bit of what it costs.

    I bought one on a Friday night, and it paid for itself and earned its monthly keep before lunchtime on Saturday.

    Interestingly, it seems to be far more sensitive to Verizon's local RF signals than my phone is. Which is nice.
    • by Emphron (658969)
      I agree. I'll get one when they launch in Australia. I guess the reason these 3G plans are so expensive is that business travellers are prepared to pay this much to stay in connected. If you do most of your work in the office, or at home then why bother. But if you travel for work, and can't afford to be out of connection, it is a pretty useful device. Here in Australia, 3G performance is pretty slow and unpredictable. I get pretty cranky about it, but there isn't a viable alternative.
  • Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlashdotOgre (739181) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:17PM (#28188837) Journal

    It's pretty cool given the size of the device, but bridging cellular and WiFi networks is nothing new. I'm sure it's been done long before; personally I recall doing this in 2006 while working at Cal-IT2 (a research institution at UCSD). I was with a group of engineers stuck in barracks at Moffett Field with no WiFi or TV. We did have a Soekris board running Debian, a Verizon PCMCIA broadband card, and PCMCIA WiFi card which worked with hostap; and we ended up with a WiFi access point serving cellular broadband.

    These days I can do the same thing using my Samsung Saga and ICScontrol to share connection over WiFi. Or I can tether to my phone to my laptop running Gentoo, place my laptop's WiFi card in ad-hoc mode.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

      by darjen (879890) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @09:35PM (#28190651)

      It's the size and convenience. None of your mentioned solutions offer anything close to the MiFi form factor. Try fitting your Soekris board in your pocket.

      • Actually you're mistaken. The program I referred to, ICScontrol, runs on my Samsung Saga. My Saga is about the size of the MiFi (if not smaller). Also if I'm going to use the MiFi, I'm going to have a computer with me anyway (otherwise there's no point). So both solutions (running the Internet sharing app directly on my phone or tethering then sharing via Ad-Hoc) both apply.

    • DIGI has been selling these devices for years. Others did before them;

      http://www.digi.com/products/cellulargateways/ [digi.com]

      When you have a remote office out in the middle of no where and you need Internet, sometimes this is the only option. This or VSAT/DirecWay.

  • by Bodero (136806) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:21PM (#28188889)

    Your other option instead of waiting for a Mi-Fi, or if you want the portability of a USB cellular modem, is the Kyocera KR-2 [kyocera-wireless.com] Mobile Router. I use this with Verizon and it has the added benefit of being network-neutral, and also allowing for using another (faster) network and reverting to the cellular connection as a backup. The downside? Not as portable.

  • by tthomas48 (180798) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:29PM (#28188979) Homepage

    Let's talk when this can be used for using the internet. Until the price/GB drops, this is pretty much useless.

    • by ScentCone (795499)
      Yeah, with averaging only 160MB a day, seven days a week, there's just no way you could run some RDP sessions, check your mail, do some business, upload some JPGs to Grandma, read the news, and call it an hour's work until you get back to a WiFi hotspot of your home/office broadband. Yes, just plain useless. None of that is "using the internet," huh.
      • by tthomas48 (180798)

        No, that was the Internet 5 years ago. Now I need to be able to watch streaming videos and and do all those things. Devices like the iPhone have shown that people aren't interested in using the mobile internet for 1 hour/day while on a bus. They want to use it all the time, everywhere they are. I don't want there to be a distinction between "crappy internet on the go" and "home/office internet". I want everything everywhere. That's the world we're moving into, and I'm not interested in settling.

        I don't unde

        • Not only that, but Verizon used to be "Unlimited" for their devices with the hidden cap being around 10GB, not 5. And even then, they would only cut you if you frequently broke 10GB.

          We're seeing steps backward.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought this would be awesome, just the device I need until I tried to get an answer out of Verizon about the international coverage. The guy on the phone didn't even know the Mifi (okay, it was a week before it was due for public release). I've now tried twice to get an email answer about international coverage.

    I'm a travel writer. I can't even seem to get anyone -- from any major carrier -- to intelligently talk about international coverage. If I'm going to be locked into a plan for 2 years, I damn

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Manacit (1519711)
      According to T-Mobile's site, You'll be able to use your phone in Japan, South Korea and Mexico just fine, T-Mobile has a presence in Europe, so it'll work fine there too. It'll cost you an arm and a leg++ to do anything, but it will work. Check http://www.t-mobile.com/International/RoamingOverview.aspx?tp=Inl_Tab_RoamWorldwide&WT.mc_n=ILDCoverage&WT.mc_t=onsite [t-mobile.com] to see the prices of any country you want. As for the phone, T-Mobile happens to sell the G1, which has many excellent programs for email a
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rickb928 (945187)

        Apparently pre-paid data SIMs in Europe don't really exist. They bill you up to $31/MB in equivalent charges, which empties your pre-paid pretty quick. Not to mention crossing borders and finding out your pre-paid is all of a sudden 'foreign' and charging you for incoming calls. Darn.

        Damn, but it figures. Even the Europeans see data as a cash cow. And they are so right. Plan on using hotel WiFi and putting up with marginal service and no VOIP.

    • I thought a quad-band phone would work in pretty much any country (with a functioning GSM and/or 3G network, of course), and that it was more of a question of unbelievably high roaming charges. I dunno about Japan, but Europe is no problem. Most Southeast-Asian countries have perfectly normal GSM networks too.

  • Nevermind.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I was just about to pull the trigger on ordering one to replace my company supplied Verizon usb dongle, until I found out it cost $399 without contract (since the dongle and contract is company owned, I can't go messing with it).

    Stupid carriers mark up the prices and then subsidize them at the price they should be at un-subsidized. The hell this thing cost $400 to make/market/support.

    ARGH!

  • As others point out, it isn't a revolution in communication. It is, however, a very elegant implementation of a useful service at a price that is (for my needs) reasonable.

    I've been using it a week or two now, here's what my take:

    Summary: It does what it says it does, in the way it promises, without the slightest hassle. For electronics, that's a hell of an endorsement.

    The GOOD:

    1. Size - it's damn easy to carry It really is as small as the ads make it look.
    2. Replaceable Battery - I have a spare right with it (spare was just under $40)
    3. Runs on USB charger, laptop USB, or Battery
    4. Good - maybe not amazing - battery life (2-3 hours in reality)
    5. Micro-usb connector is compatible with my phone charger so I carry fewer blocks
    6. Performance -> It out performs the EVDO Rev A. Mini-PCI card that I had in my laptop.
    7. Reception -> Better than my best cell phone ---- Also, in poor reception areas like some hotel rooms, I can put it over by the window where the signal is good, and use the network anywhere in the room!
    8. Ubiquity -> I don't have to pick what device I bring with me based on my connectivity needs.
    9. Multi-Device support -> Laptop, Hand-held game, netbook, kid's laptop in the car, etc.
    10. No need to use the crappy Verizon connection software on the laptop (or worse, Dell's bastard stepchild version)

    Less Good / Room to Improve

    1. It needs a signal level indicator on the outside surface. To check signal, you have to hit the router's config page with a browser.
    2. The data sheet on this says it has a connector for an external antenna. I have yet to see such a thing. Maybe it is hiding.
    3. It seems to be powered up any time you plug it in to charge. No way to charge with the wifi part off (you can tell it not to connect to the cell network)

    Overall, I'm really impressed with this thing.

    Sure, I could run a linux vm on my laptop and share the internal card over the wireless; I could get a router that's compatible with another evdo card, or some other solution -- but this just works and works well.

    As far as the cost: If you travel on business and end up paying for hotel wifi, this quickly pays for itself. Better yet, is the ability to pop open the laptop or handheld pretty much ANYWHERE and pretty much ANYTIME and get connected. Airport baggage claim, taxi cab, doctor's waiting room, and most important at the park waiting for one of my kids to finish soccer practice. You could just find an open wifi, but I like knowing what I'm connected to.

    • Regarding the microusb connector, my experience is the opposite. The MiFi is the first device I've had using this connector. In comparison, my phone, my cameras, my GPS's, etc all use the miniusb connector. I must have two dozen of these cables lying around. Meanwhile, I now have to remember to pack the "special" microusb cable for the Mifi.

      (And, size-wise, I don't see any reason why they couldn't have used miniusb instead of microusb)

      • by CFD339 (795926)

        As it happened, I bought the MIFI at the same time I gritted my teeth and dove in headfirst on the BB Storm (which it turns out, I actually like -- though I can see where others may not). Both use the new Micro-USB connectors, and I'd purchased a car charger and second home charger for the phone (I keep one in my briefcase for travel). Now, between the two devices I have cables and plus wherever I need them. Synergy working for me for a change.

    • by cshuttle (613776)

      10. No need to use the crappy Verizon connection software on the laptop (or worse, Dell's bastard stepchild version)

      Less Good / Room to Improve

      As far as the VZ software goes, I learned from a board a long while ago that you can setup a dial up connection (dialing *777) through the WWAN modem, and it will connect over a standard DUN. Thankfully, I was able to do this and avoid installing the VZ/Smith Micro abomination they have.

  • This is great... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by duplo1 (719988) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @08:28PM (#28190167)
    Now it can do what my Nokia N95 (or nearly any S60 device) has been doing for ages through Walkinghotspot [walkinghotspot.com]
  • Immobile phone in HK (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @11:19PM (#28191417)
    A similar service in Hong Kong: Vodafone's home broadband [smartone-vodafone.com], which uses a router that connects to the HSPA 3G network, combining a 4 port ethernet router, Wifi, an IP phone line. It's specifically NOT mobile, locked to a particular cell, but on paper seems good deal. HK$148/month for unlimited usage (about US$19), supposedly 7 MB/s. Just been introduced so no idea how it actually performs.
  • This thing is amazing, as long as the kids don't start watching youtube :)
  • I live in Argentina. We have a pretty good 3G network, provided by 3 companies (Movistar, owned by Telefonica, Claro, owned by TelMEX and Personal, owned by Telecom). I have a small huawei 3G device, it's GNU/Linux and Mac OS friendly, and I only pay $31 (31 US Dollars) a month for unlimited access. It works almost everywhere. I travel a lot, and I even get signal on small towns, and even on the road (I have signal over the 400 km from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata). Speeds vary, but it's more than usabe (O

  • It is amusing that most people find it's acceptable to replace "Non Verizon GSM device with Wi-Fi capability" with "iPhone" ?
  • The term wi-fi is a hijack of Hi-Fi. The Fi in Hi-Fi is meaningful, in Wi-Fi it's meaningless. It's just an attempt to steal recognition and to be cutesy. Calling it wireless is plenty informative. Have you seen the commercial for HD sunglasses? They go on and on about being "high definition" to borrow the name recognition of HDTV.

    Off my lawn.

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