Three MiFi Review

A few weeks back I mentioned that 3MobileBuzz had sent over a Three MiFi for testing. My initial Three MiFi Review was overall positive although I needed to test further to get a better impression of how it worked whilst travelling. Well, I’m back and I’m glad to say it performed well.

The Three MiFi we tested is the Huawei E5830 version (now replaced with the 2nd gen model). The device is simple to set up and has just 3 buttons on the casing. One powers the device on and off, the second enables and disables the WiFi network and the third button enables and disables the mobile broadband connection (see image below). From powering up to being online takes around 30 seconds to 1 minute although it does require 3 button presses which could be just made to 1 press with firmware I believe. Not a major issue though.

The display on the device is very basic showing just 5 icons. The top right icon is the battery indicator. The top left shows signal. The bottom left shows if WiFi is enabled. The bottom right shows the mobile broadband connection and the middle light shows if you are roaming. Previously I had said I wanted more details to be displayed on the screen although when actually using the device I rarely looked at the screen unless it dropped my connection which happened maybe 2 or 3 times a day for whatever reason. Again, it wasn’t a major issue and mobile devices do lose signal occasionally. It’s just a 2 second hold of the data button and I was up and running again.

A few questions I had in my initial review were related to battery life, USB connectivity as well as other connections.

Battery life is said to be 4.5 hours. I normally worked for about 4 to 5 hours at a time and never had it die on me, so I believe battery life is stated correctly.

It can be used as a USB modem if required. You just switch WiFi off, connect it to your laptop via the USB cable and make sure you are connected to the 3G network and you can work away.

Up to five devices can connect. I managed to test with three devices and did see issues when one of the devices was doing some large downloads although pages still loaded on the other devices, just a bit slower.

There is a new model with a better screen that shows data usage per session as well as more details on signal and battery life. The 2nd gen Three MiFi can be seen in brief, here. My first thoughts were that I would want a better screen with more details, but when using the device the basic 4 LED confirmation tells you if you are connected or not, so this first gen model works quite well. You probably wont look at the screen that much to worry if it’s OLED or just basic status indicators.

Could it replace a home broadband connection? I’d like to think it could, but in practice I prefer my home broadband connection as it’s faster. Home broadband just seems a little more stable.

As for data usage, I’m slack and didn’t write down how much data was available at the beginning of my test although if memory serves me correctly it was just over 10GB and I have 9.4GB left now, so 600MB in one week of 5 – 6 hours of usage per day. At a rough estimate would see me needing 3GB per month “if” I used it all the time rather than my home broadband connection. The price would be £15 for me if I intended to use the connection full time. If not, I’d be looking at the cheapest plan that costs £10/month for 1GB on a PAYG price plan.

In conclusion I liked the device. It simply worked every time I needed to get online and didn’t complain or have no signal which was nice to see. I don’t travel too much so don’t need one for day to day usage. In saying that, when I do travel I often need to be connected online. I have a T-Mobile SIM I carry in my tetherable iPhone and have an O2 microSIM in my iPad… but just for added connectivity I’d be tempted to spend the £49.99 to buy one and then just top it up if I need to travel with a PAYG Three SIM rather than being on a contract.

Unfortunately this model is not available to buy although the new 2nd gen MiFi with the improved screen is now available at the same price from what I can see. Full details of that can be found over here.

Thanks again for 3MobileBuzz sending it over for a few weeks to test. Shame it has to go back!

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