I was recently given the chance to sample Three's new MiFi wireless hotspot device. The MiFi is based on Huawei E585 and is a 3G HSDPA modem that also functions as a portable WiFi access point. This allows up to five WiFi-equipped gadgets to connect simultaneously to a single mobile broadband connection.
Despite being predominetly plastic, the MiFi is solidly built. The battery is accessed from the bottom through a cover. Below the battery contains the Sim card slot. There is a microSDHC card slot on the side, but I honestly have no idea what that's for! The solitary on/off button also doubles as a display toggle. It doesn't get more simple than that.
There is a small but useful OLED screen on the front which displays basic information such as the signal strength, connection time and how many devices are hooked up. The battery is good for about 4-5 hours, which I think is reasonable.
No set up was needed. Simply switch on the device and within less than a minute it was ready to be used. Key in the wireless security pass key to whatever device you want to pair it with and you are ready to surf on your notebook, play multiplayer PSP games on the go, download apps on your smartphone or whatever catches your fancy.
During my week long trial, I actually enjoyed the MiFi as it allowed me the freedom to test multiple WiFi-equipped phones like the C3. I also paired it with my Nokia X6 to stream music via Mobbler. If there ever was a killer application for mobile access points like the MiFi, it would be a music streamer like Mobbler or Spotify.
Download speed is decent, provided you are in an area with HSDPA 3.6Mbps support (up to 2.8Mbps according to Three). Unfortunately the MiFi doesn't default to 2.5G mode outside of Three's coverage so there were times when I was rudely cut off. Thankfully this is a rarity in London and only occurs in pockets of rural area in Hertfordshire and North London where I frequently travel through.
Would I get one? Likely, but first I need to get a new battery for my notebook (it only lasts 15-30 minutes now...). I only ever try to carry one smartphone with me at any one time, but the MiFi does have its conveniences such as making SIM card switching between devices a thing of the past. The new MiFi is available from £50 on Pay As You Go, and frankly a total of £75 for a Pay As You Go MiFi with 7GB allowance isn't too bad.
I may just bite.
Thanks to Michelle of the now shut Three Mobile Buzz for the trial device!