portable wifi?
August 15, 2010 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Work will be buying me a portable hotspot device. I don't know much about them except that I'd rather not install any client software. So...hivemind...what is my best portable wifi option?
posted by toastchee to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What operating system are you running? I have used the Sprint EVDO card which requires client software but got good coverage in most places in the US. I now used the tethering option of the iPhone and find that while the system works great with my Mac and requires no additional software, the coverage is a lot more spotty outside of metro areas.
posted by jessamyn at 9:04 AM on August 15, 2010

Response by poster: odinsdream, that's what I'm looking for...thanks...advice?
posted by toastchee at 9:09 AM on August 15, 2010

I got a Sprint 3G/4G mi-fi hotspot. Maybe it was a fluke, but with 2 users, it lasted at most 2.5 hours on a full charge. I returned it before the 30 day warranty was over. Fortunately, they refunded all my money so I wasn't out anything.

Coverage wasn't bad, but the speed was far less than my home Wi-Fi, so be prepared. Also, 4G in my area wasn't yet available.

Verizon also has one but I haven't tried it yet.

Good luck, and enjoy the freedom of Internet everywhere!
posted by ifnot at 9:11 AM on August 15, 2010

I don't have one myself, but I've leached off of a MiFi which rocked (no software for me to hook up to it, to my Mac it was just a wifi hotspot). I have my eye on Sprint 4G Hotspot by Sierra once 4G is available in my area.
posted by birdherder at 9:12 AM on August 15, 2010

I have the Novatel MiFi 2200 from Verizon, which can act as either a hotspot for up to five devices, or a dedicated connection for one machine (first activation and afterwards, dedicated connection mode requires client software; once activated the wifi hub requires no client software). Beware bandwidth overage costs. I'd wanted to go with Sprint's HTC Evo 4G phone, which has wifi hub functioanlity built in for up to eight devices. Alas, Sprint's 3G/4G coverage stinks here in Cow Town. Most plans will provide hub hardware for free if a new line. Check your coverage maps.
posted by nj_subgenius at 9:30 AM on August 15, 2010

The sprint USB stick worked great for me and auto installed reliable software anywhere (pc or Mac) that I plugged it in. The mifi required no software but was pretty flaky and, as someone said above, had a pretty limited batt life. It was also cranky about chargers, a grave offense in a device w a USB plug IMHO.

I've replaced it with a Clear 4g+ that falls back to sprint 3G and so far so good. If price is an object and you have Clear in your area it's tge way to go; no data limits on 4g and the 3G fallback is identical limits to sprint. Plus the device is 100x better in interface.
posted by phearlez at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2010

I have the MiFi 2200 also - I've actually bought two for our company. nj_subgenius mentions this briefly, but you will need to install software initially to activate the device. I was fortunate enough to be able to do this with someone else's computer when I bought mine. It's fairly slow compared to DSL, but I get coverage everywhere I go in the continental US so far - and I travel quite a bit. I typically use it instead of hotel wireless, for example.

However, there's a bandwidth cap now for any new purchases, so it's not great for media streaming or large downloads. When I got my first one, there wasn't any bandwidth cap.

I get about 3 hours at most on it, if it's not plugged in. However, you can plug it in using any Micro USB adapter - either to your computer or to an outlet directly.

Finally - and this is the thing that bugs me most - for some reason it won't allow L2TP VPN connections when used wirelessly. You have to plug it in and use their client software to make that work.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:09 AM on August 15, 2010

I had a MiFi from Verizon until a couple of weeks ago. You just charge it and turn it on. You can then connect up to five computers to it via wifi. It mostly works well, but I grew frustrated with it's preference for it's own charger. It has a micro USB port on it, but it is very picky about what you plug into it to supply power. I like to travel light and share chargers.

I just replaced the MiFi with a Palm Pre Plus on Verizon. It has a "hotspot" app that makes it work just ike a MiFi. It is about $10 more monthly and I get the same functionality plus voice minutes as well if I want them. I haven't had it that long, but so far, I like it better than the stand alone MiFi.
posted by rglasmann at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2010

« Older Baby's learning Final Cut   |   M*A*S*H Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.