The 3 MiFi is a funky little device that falls squarely into the didn’t know it existed but now that I do and I’ve bought one I don’t know how I survived without one category.
To be more precise, the 3 MiFi E585 (there is an older version that some 3rd party resellers still stock that isn’t as good) completely and utterly makes the humble USB 3G dongle redundant. Okay, it costs a few bob more (the price depends on what contract you take out or whether you buy it on PAYG) but it does a much more flexible job because it lets all sorts of devices hook up via wifi to a 3G+ connection (HSDPA if you love your acronyms) or a 3G one if that’s not available. This means you can connect an iPod or, in my case an iPhone which periodically suffers from O2’s crap data network coverage, to a proper high speed mobile connection without having to faff around with connection sharing via a laptop.
5 devices can connect to it at any one time, and most of the settings like passwords are user changeable. Rather handily, if you’re on PAYG like I am, you can still use it to access the 3 site and top up even if you’re out of data.
It also means if you’re in a basement or an area of poor reception you can make use of blu tac (if you’re feeling brave) or sellotape (if you’re not) to stick the MiFi on to a window or across the other side of the room to get a better signal. This has proved invaluable in our London office for a bit of lunch time web surfing since I can’t even get a mobile signal with my iPhone in normal circumstance. I’ve also managed to sit in a car and watch an entire footy match via the Sky Mobile app on my iPhone with no buffering or interuptions, although it obviously eats through the data at a fair lick.
It didn’t take very long to set up initially and once it is set up, it’s a simple button press to turn it on. It goes into power saving mode if you have a device connected but not using the internet connection, flashing to live when you fire up a browser or whatever.
The device itself is like a small mobile phone from about 10 years ago. It’s a little bit smaller than a HTC Magician if anyone remembers those, so its no problem to slip it into a coat pocket or a bag. Indeed it’s so handy, I am half tempted to eschew a smart phone when my iPhone contract is up and get a small cheap phone and an iPod/tablet to use with my MiFi. In fact it pretty renders the 3G version of the iPad redundant but best not mention this to Apple, they might get cross.