Novatel Wireless Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

Novatel Wireless Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

Aug 31, 2015

It’s all about the connectivity.

You can pack as many devices and peripherals as you can handle, but without a connection to the World Wide Web, you’re only s good as the information on hand… and what fun is that?

Nah. We need to get online, and even on wi-fi only smartdevices, a secure connection away from home base is beneficial. And, as we like to muse, being restricted to using insecure public networks has its drawbacks.

And then we have solutions like the Novatel Wireless Verizon Jetpack Mifi. It’s a small mobile wireless hotspot, capable of connecting to up to 15 devices on the go, using cellular networks to spit out 4G speeds.

The review unit Novatel sent us contained the puck, power adapter, USB cable and paperwork. At 2.6 x 3.7 x 0.76 inches and under 5 oz, it’s pretty compact, mostly black and red with white lettering plus a prominent screen and navigation buttons. It has ports for micro-USB charging port, a USB port and a 4,000 mAh li-ion Battery user serviceable battery.

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After an obligatory charge, it’s nice to know the unit is ready to go. The screen is bright, and connecting devices to it is intuitive to anyone who’s ever connected to a wi-fi network. The navigation buttons allow one to scroll through pertinent information.

Now, hooking into Verizon’s network definitely has its benefits; on the road and moving across states, a good connection was mostly maintained on the major highways, though there were dead spots on some remote rural rural routes and the occasional hand-off stuttering between towers. It worked well with eight devices connected simultaneously, allowing for each to stream videos, play connected games and such. Downloads of data did seem faster with less devices connected, but overall, the speeds were pretty fast, especially in metro areas.

Using it as a stationary hotspot was pretty impressive when a connection was established. Connection quality remained consistent, and re-connecting was mostly automatic when toggled to do so from the device. The access control is easy to manage and works well. The ability to toss it one;s bag (or even pocket) is invaluable. The battery life is better than decent, and the device charging ability adds another layer of built-in functionality.

It’s one of the better solutions we’ve tried; it merges great hardware with consistent service in such a way that it feels like an easy addition to one;s mobile workflow versus an unneeded extravagance. Forgive us for saying it again, but Verizon’s network is a huge advantage that adds to its overall charm.

Cellhire Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

Cellhire Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

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.

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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.

Free App Recap December 27 – Wi-Fi Apps

Free App Recap December 27 – Wi-Fi Apps

Dec 27, 2012

Everything mobile uses Wi-Fi,this includes Android tablets and phones. Something to consider though is there really isn’t good preinstalled application for managing Wi-Fi on Android devices. This week’s list of free Android apps will be talking about a few applications to help manage Android Wi-Fi.

Lookator

Lookator is an augmented reality app to help locate the source of the Wi-Fi signal. When in an area with a lot of different Wi-Fi sources, knowing which signals are unsecured is the first step in the process. The second step is to find the source because not everyone names their Wi-Fi. Lookator displays the name of the Wi-Fi sources on an overlay or layer to the Android. The screen shows what the rear camera sees. Each of the Wi-Fi locations are displayed on the actual building vs. just seeing a name and the strength of the signal. Take a look here to see what that looks like.

Download Lookator

Wi-Fi Keep Alive

Part of the battery saving options some Android devices have is to turn off the Wi-Fi when the screen shuts off or after a set amount of time if the device is plugged in. This can be problematic especially if downloading something. Wi-Fi Keep Alive solves this problem by forcing the Wi-Fi to stay on. Using the home screen widget to easily toggle the default setting.

Download Wi-Fi Keep Alive

FoxFi (WiFi Tether w/o Root)

Not all of the wireless carriers allow Wi-Fi tethering to other devices. Fortunately for us, FoxFi fixes that problem. It can turn a non-rooted Android device into a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth hotspot. Using an app like this is a great way feed a Wi-Fi signal to a laptop or tablet when no other source is available.

Download FoxFi (WiFi Tether w/o Root)