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3 MiFi initial review

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For the past two years I have been using a Vodaphone mobile internet dongle.  It’s done well and I have no complaints.  The main restriction was that I could only connect one device.  This meant that with iPhone tethering I could accommodate only 2 devices.

Firstly, why do I need mobile internet?

  • I commute 38 miles to work, quite often by train.  I find that having mobile internet allows me to be productive.
  • Mobile dongles are an effective way of negotiating internet filters for staff use in planning and preparing lessons. This is my main use of mobile internet – I often had the dongle on the go all day, 5 days a week when at work.
  • I am often at conferences and events that have either poor, or non-existent wifi.

So why the 3 MiFi?

  • The device allows me to connect up to 5 devices – great for collaboration at work when we want to use blocked sites. In comparison, I feel restricted by the single dongle.  Now I could get together some colleagues, head out onto the roof or quad and still collaborate using on-line tools.
  • I can now scale down my iPhone tariff and get the cheaper wifi only iPad
  • The price is excellent - £22 for 15GB of data each month compared to the £25 for 5GB on the Vodaphone deal
  • Although unsure about 3 network coverage, the bulk of my mobile internet needs are confined to the South where coverage is good.  I’ll never get around the 3G and wifi black spots of some locations, but this is something that I can live with as I like to switch off when there anyway.

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So what’s it like?

These comments are based upon two days of usage which included a train journey to London.

  • Battery Life – so far it’s been on the go for 4 hours of usage and still has a third of its battery for the journey home.  Two USB leads are provided, meaning that charge could be provided by a laptop if needed. This is acceptable, as I am used to socketeering, charging a number of USB devices through a laptop from one socket.
  • Size – the modem is bigger than a USB dongle, but still small enough to fit into a pocket without any issues.
  • Ease of use – it passed the acid test – I haven’t read any of the instructions yet and have been able to connect a range of devices.  The modem has a unique security key that is both supplied on a card and on a sticker. This means that the network is secure.
  • Performance – so far I am very impressed.  There have been no black spots on the Goring-Victoria route (apart from the tunnels).  Download speeds are acceptable for mobile speeds – I never download large files when on the move. I have connected four laptops, all of which ran Google Earth well enough to use and avoid frustration.

Aspects that I have yet to test:

  • The network performance in Wales ;-)
  • How the modem performs with five laptops connected at once performing Goole Earth operations.

So, at the moment, I don’t plan on returning the 3 modem.

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