I predict that pocket WiFi routers will be selling like hotcakes in the near future especially for those who want to be connected on the go while sharing the connection to friends or families at the same time.
There’s the Globe MiFi and the recently launched Smart Bro Pocket WiFi but both of them are locked into their own carrier which means if you have a poor Globe or Smart signal in your area, you’re out of luck. Or you can have them unlocked but the problem with these model of MiFi routers is that once you plug it into your USB to charge, it won’t connect to the internet until you pull it out.
The Huawei E5 is an unlocked MiFi device that can support either Globe, Smart or Sun SIM cards. It’s also a quad-band device so you can use it with other SIM cards worldwide. It is better than older generation of MiFi routers because it will still connect to the internet and share it even while it’s charging. Another improved feature is that it’s capable of 3.5G speeds but of course, it’s still dependent on what your carrier can give you. Oh and the LED display is significantly more friendly than the color-coded LEDs of the older version.
Battery life is still the same as the previous model that Globe’s been using. You’ll get around 4 to 5 hours on a single charge.
You can connect up to 5 devices wirelessly (including printers) and also use it as a tethered modem at the same time so that’s actually 6 devices. Unlike Globe or Smart’s MiFi routers, you have full control of your network with the Huawei E5. Set security or limit access via MAC address to name a few all in one portable device.
The Huawei E5 can also be used as a USB flash drive. There’s a microSD slot that can turn it into a portable network drive. Dump or share files on the Huawei E5 within its network making it a must-have for any mobile office.
According to its distributor, Gcomm Business Corp., the Huawei E5 will be available within the month for an SRP of Php5,995. It’s not uncommon for a household to have multiple mobile wireless devices these days and the Huawei E5 would be a really useful device for the family to get connected especially on trips. I was informed that Apple resellers might bundle the Huawei E5 with their iPad WiFi.
Globe Telecom lent us their new toy — the mobile 3G router they call Globe MyFi. I’d like to share 10 things about the MyFi so you’re better informed about it before deciding to go and get one.
- The device is a branded version of the Huawei E5830 3G router. This is the same 3G router being sold by Three (3) telecom in Hong Kong since at least year ago (they call it 3 MiFi there). It has been available in the grey market and in online stores for Php7k to Php12k, depending on the source.
- The Globe MyFi works like the Globe Tattoo USB dongle with an additional WiFi router function. As such, you can also hook it up to the USB port of your PC or laptop as a 3G modem. The device comes with a similar software dialer too.
- The Huawei E5830 comes with a removable battery — a 1500mAh Li-Ion (almost identical to the battery of the Nokia E71 or E63). The battery lasts between 3 hours to 5 hours of use, depending on how many devices are connected and the usage pattern (downloading large files tend to eat up a lot more juice).
- The device has an LED display that serves as status indicator for WiFi connectivity, battery life, 3G (WAN availability), among others. To set it up, you’ll need to be connected to the WiFi and fire up your browser to 192.168.1.1 to get to the admin panel (here’s where you set the APN settings and the security protocols).
- You can get the MyFi from Globe two ways — get it with a Prepaid Kit for a one-time fee of Php7,000 or get a 2-year Postpaid Plan 499 or 999 and just add Php250 per month on top of your plan (makes Php6,000 in two years).
- The MyFi can serve up to 5 WiFi devices but can also be used as a 3G USB modem like most other existing 3G dongles (this allows you to conserve battery and charge it up at the same time). I think this hard limit prevents congesting the bandwidth of the single 3G connection.
- The device also has a microSD card slot that supports up to 32GB. However, you can only access the storage via a mini-USB cable and not over WiFi (would have been nice if it worked like a NAS or something).
- The biggest advantage with the MyFi is that you can freely position or place the 3G router anywhere you get the best 3G reception. You’re not restricted to a cable or anything. As an example, certain parts of my house don’t get good 3G signal so I just place the MyFi near the window and it gets HSDPA signal already (which it re-broadcasts via WiFi in the home).
- WiFi range is decent (802.11 b/g) and can easily do around 10 meters but degrades really quick against obstacles such as walls or doors. On battery, it saves up power by lowering the signal strength but will go full signal strength when plugged to an outlet or a USB port.
- Makes it really worth it if you carry multiple WiFi devices all the time — like a smartphone, an iPad WiFi and a laptop — so you only use a single unlimited data SIM for connectivity. Just don’t forget to get that Enegizer XPal portable power pack or have a USB car charger tucked in the glove compartment.
On the contrary, the Globe MyFi is still a bit on the expensive side (you need to have a really compelling use-case to justify it over a USB dongle). I think it’s mainly due to supply and demand. I remember those 3G USB dongles cost about Php3,995 when they first came out. Even that Sierra wireless card for PLDT WeRoam was selling for Php7,500 back then. I’m sure the price will eventually go down to more affordable levels.
If you’re looking for that power 3G+WiFi solution like the Globe MyFi, then the DIR-457U 3.75G MyPocket Router could be something you might want to look into.
According to local reps the DIR-457U will be available in the Philippines next month (September 2010) but the price is yet to be determined (though I think it will be in the vicinity of the Huawei at Php6k – Php7k).
The D-Link MyPocket Router offers speeds of 7.2Mbps over 3G cellular networks and shares it over WiFi for up to 16 devices. It has a built-in SIM card slot, a lithium ion battery and charges via a mini-USB port.
More on this once we get the official suggested retail price (and hopefully a review unit).
Recently bought this Sapido Mobile 3G Router so I can compare it with the SmartBro Share-It WiFi router I use in my car and see which one makes for a better mobile internet set-up.
For about a year now since I got the SmartBro Share-It, it has found its place inside my car wherever I go around the city.
I tried bringing it up north on long trips and it was still working in Bulacan and down south, as far as Sta. Rosa. We even manage to make it work until the end of the South Luzon Expressway.
The problem with SmartBro Share-It is that they lock you to a certain location (or base stations) so when you travel outside that area of coverage, the device will no longer work or have access to internet. In my case, my Share-It is registered and locked in Makati City.
When that happens, I switch to a USB dongle or tether to a phone for 3G internet. But that means only one device at a time can have internet connection (although you have alternatives like this and this).
So here comes Sapido, a mobile 3.5G WiFi router which I’ve been reading about since last year. It works just like SmartBro Share-It but unlocked so you can also use your Globe Tattoo or Sun Wireless Broadband USB dongle with it.
And on top of having an AC adaptor and a car kit, it also have a DC socket so it’s possible to hook the device to an external battery or power via the mini-USB port. That means I can plug this to that Energizer XPal X18000 Power Pack and get that truly mobile WiFi 3G set-up I need.
Got the Sapido for Php3,300 in one store (near CDR King) in VirraMall, Greenhills this week-end. The car kit is optional for Php200.