Three MiFi Review – First Impressions

Three recently sent us a Three MiFi for review to test and see how it performs and what it’s all about. MiFi devices are handy as they are quite small (the size of a small mobile phone) and act as a portable wireless hotspots connected up to 3G networks. What makes them good is that you can easily leave the device in a bag, or on the desk next to you and easily connect up any device by just entering the encryption key. Unlike the previous mobile dongles which required software to be installed on a PC or laptop so you could connect up to 3G, the MiFi wireless modems connect automatically by pushing a button on the device. Your laptop or smartphone then just connects up as it would to a router at home with no hassle. As there is no software to install it works extremely well with Wireless Apple iPads and easily allows the iPad to connect and work while out and about.

The model we got is the Huawei E5830 that comes with the unit it’s self, a short USB cable for charging, a SIM card and a battery. On the front is an information display (not a screen as such) that shows the status of the device. 5 LED’s are on the front which show if Wi-Fi is enabled, what the Mode is, signal, roaming and battery.

When switching it on you simply hold down the power button for a few seconds and it powers up. At this point the WiFi is enabled (it can be disabled it needed) and it as standard acts as a wireless router to connect devices together. To enable 3G you hold down the connect key at which point when you let go an M shows up on screen to show a connection is made. Once you have 4 lights active (roaming is the 5th if abroad) then you are ready to go.

On your laptop or iPad you can go to wireless settings (if your device isn’t configured to auto detect networks) and then enter the encryption key found on a card in the package. Once done you are connected and can surf the web.

This review is just a quick description, instructions and first impressions review.

From my first tests the configuration was simple. It connected up and just worked as it should out of the box. Signal strength was good in the area I was and allowed my iPad to connect up to the internet with almost the speed of my home broadband connection. When activating the O2 3G connection on my iPad at that point it ran much slower over the O2 network indicating that Three’s network in that area was far better.

Next week I will be travelling across the UK to a few destinations and will be testing the MiFi out on the road to give it a real test. Questions I still have for the device are as follows…

Battery life… can it match the 10 hours of the iPad WiFi model? As of yet I do not know. I’d be happy if it got 6+ hours.
Can it be used as a USB modem (Haven’t tested that yet but will do)
How many devices can connect? (I will be able to test up to about 4 simultaneously and see if Three can handle that)
Is there a model with a screen with better status indicators other than static LED’s that change colour… I’ll look in to that also next week.
Could it replace a home broadband connection? I’ll test that this week as I work at home.
Pricing will also be looked at to see how much you pay for the device and how much data you get.

Full pricing details can be found here if you want to take a look now.

So in conclusion I quite like it from my first impressions. Speed was impressive when I first switched it on with page loads very acceptable on the iPad I tested on.

I’ll report back towards the end of next week with my findings.

Note: The press pic will be replaced with a real picture of the device as soon as my camera is back later this evening.

Comments

  1. royston says:

    Many of us that use mobile internet/mifi are of the beaten track and have no option but to use mobile internet. I have had a three network mifi for just over a month and I am sick of it. The stupid thig turns itself of if it is not used for about twenty mins. So if you need to nip out for a coffee or tea, when you come back the wifi connection will be lost. Which means that you have to go to the wifi unit and turn it on again! Mine is three floors up in order to get a usable signal that is a long way to climb everytime I need to log on! I would not reccomend a three wifi to anyone unless they wish to loose weight. The unit can be set to keep the wireless on 24/7 but three have set the 20 min time out and have locked the ip address so that we the owner can not alter it. Stay clear of the three network they are a complete waste of time.

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