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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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  • 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 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]
  • 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 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.

  • Nevermind.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:44PM (#28189135)

    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!

  • by Manacit (1519711) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @06:55PM (#28189265)
    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 access, and a very find physical keyboard. You can even use it as a wifi router with http://code.google.com/p/android-wifi-tether/ [google.com] if you choose to check email or type on a laptop.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @07:19PM (#28189539) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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