Aug 3, 2015
While I admit my appreciation for tablets is still in its infancy, I like the affordability of wi-fi-only models. Of course, this leaves a pretty gaping whole with regards to connectivity, especially on the go; one is at the mercy of locations with public wi-fi access. Now, beyond the inconvenience factor, one has to be concerned with security as well, so signing into the first open network at the truck stop might not be the smartest thing to do. Yes, one can use one’s smartphone’s hotspot, but it might not be fun using it with GPS running… and boy, do those things overheat.
One option that is gaining steam is the personal wi-fi puck, a unit that harnesses phone signals and spits out wireless connection strong enough to connect mobile devices. Brilliant, yes, and so we did look forward to checking out Cellhire’s service. Cellhire does a lot with mobile connectivity, and mobile router’s are right up its alley.
The puck Cellhire sent us was the Samsung V100T 4G LTE Mifi Hotspot, a small, dignified piece, mostly red and black, branded Samsung and packing a T-mobile data SIM. The review package also contained a micro-USB cord and power adapter.
The unit is fairly compact, coming in at 5.15 ounces on a 3.53 x 3.53 X 0.52-inch frame. It has a micro-SD slot for carry-on media, as well as a wrap-arounf cable for connecting to computers via USB or charging smartdevices with its built-in battery pack.
In practice, it is a great solution… in practice. Streaming off of T-Mobile network was pretty smooth when in range, but it lives and dies by proximity to the towers. On the road trip it was tested, it did go in and out a fair amount, but it did do well closer to major metro areas, which isn’t entirely unexpected. The review unit was tested with seven devices simultaneously, and when a solid network condition existed, it handled multiple Netflix streaming with aplomb.
The connection speeds were beyond tolerable (4G is swift), and the charge time was pretty decent; it lasted through a 4-hour trip easily, with plenty of battery life to spare. It’s also worth noting that the unit works while charging, which is great.
Using it as an internet device more locally, it really flourished, especially deep in its home network area. Speeds were consistent, and it even beat the local library wi-fi speeds. It was stubborn during reconnection at times, but for the most part, it was pretty effective.
To do a lot of management, one does need a browser, and the on-device controls are button-based.
As it is, it worked a bit better than I envisaged. I’d rather use it locally, and it confirms my opinion that it is only as good as the service it is connected to. All in all, Cellhire’s service (details and pricing here) was an engaging revelation.