As I said in a previous Sprint broadband device review, I’m constantly looking for new ways to communicate any time and from any place. Well, today’s device review takes this concept to a whole new level. You see, the ExpressCard I reviewed earlier does a great job at providing mobile 3G broadband to a single device, but the MiFi from Sprint allows multiple computers to connect to the Sprint 3G network – providing more flexibility and greater access.
The MiFi is a device from Novatel that is very small – about as thick as an iPhone and only 2/3 as tall. It is easily pocket-able and uses CDMA 3G data access for uplink to the Internet. You connect to the MiFi via Wi-Fi, just like any other access point you use either at work, home, or at your nearest coffee shop.
There isn’t much to using the MiFi. In fact, all you do is hit the little power button on the top to get started. The MiFi then finds and attaches itself to the Sprint 3G EVDO network and soon after this you can see the Sprint MiFi in your computer’s list of available wireless access points.
There is a 5 digit password to attach to the WEP encrypted MiFi, allowing you to secure your MiFi to a limited degree (as WEP can be cracked pretty easily nowadays).
Speeds and Capabilities
The MiFi 2200 from Sprint allows you to connect up to 5 devices up to it at one point. This is a good thing, in my opinion, because the 3G network only has a certain amount of bandwidth, and above and beyond 5 devices, the uplink to the ‘Net will get saturated pretty fast.
I routinely had my iPod Touch and/or iPhone, plus 1 computer hooked up to the MiFi and each device had a very speedy Internet connection to pull down data from web sites, email, and social networking sites.
I was able to get about 5 hours of battery life out of the MiFi on a single charge – pretty impressive considering the battery is supporting a 3G chipset and concurrently powering a WiFi chipset as well.
As with the EX720 device I tested before, I was impressed with the Sprint mobile broadband network speeds. I am routinely able to pull down 2 Mb/s or more, depending on the remote site I am visiting and signal strength.
After using the MiFi for 4 weeks, my impression is solid: the MiFi is a must have device if you desire to have on-the-go access. If you’re considering getting a 3G dongle for your device, my advice is to get a MiFi instead. It’s approximately the same price, and you can hook ANY WiFi capable device up to it without worrying about driver support or related issues.
It’s liberating to be able to utilize the MiFi on the go with it’s onboard battery. Also, being able to share it with someone is another great feature that a USB dongle does not provide. Sure there are options like CradlePoint devices, but they lack the battery power and simplicity that the MiFi provides.