Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

We're at least a generation away from internet on everything. Until then, the Verizon MiFi 2200 will drive one 3G cellular data connection over Wi-Fi to a handful of gadgets at once.

The MiFi is gorgeous, and about as big as a business card holder. And miraculously capable of connecting to Verizon's 3G cellular network and spitting out Wi-Fi to up to 5 clients.

Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

The device is manufactured by Novatel, and instead of a metal top of the reference design, it has a plastic top, which I imagine is better for wireless signal reception. The 3G connection is a Verizon EVDO revision A connection, and it was not too slow while being tested from downtown Manhattan.
Speed was what you'd expect from an EVDO Revision A piece of kit:


Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

The Wi-Fi itself is of the B/G variety, with basic security settings and the ability to hide SSID broadcasting. There's a web based UI for managing the hotspot, too.

The operation of the device is relatively straight forward, in most ways. You hit the power button and it turns on and automatically connects to a Verizon 3G signal. (I kind of wish the power button was more recessed, I can see it turning on in a bag.)

There are some variables as to how you connect the device to your computers and wi-fi devices, though.

The micro USB port used for charging the device doubles as a connectivity port. When you connect the device to your computer by USB, the internet access can be turned on by Verizon's software. This charges the device, but disables Wi-Fi so no other devices can use it. Connecting the MiFi to the wall charger via the same port allows the Wi-Fi to be accessed. I do think that its nice that it is both battery powered and capable of being used as a tethered device. If you're going to use your 3G connection on only one device you're better off connecting it as such because transferring a connection over a USB port takes less power than over a wireless signal, even if its only Wi-Fi.

Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

The device works fine. Wi-Fi range is not all that strong, but given the portability of the device, it's better than expected, providing strong coverage at 25 feet away in a place with congested airwaves. The 3G was fast, as I noted above, but I did not compare its reception to other types of 3G modems. The MiFi can power down when not being used, automatically, after a set time. Rebooting the device takes about 5-10 seconds, however. Battery life was around 2.5-3.5 hours while using it to work (read: plenty of internet access at all times, but not quite up to the level of streaming video.)

Do I like this thing? Yes. It would be nice to use in the car, as long as you have a car USB charger, and could be convenient if you have to share one connection between several Wi-Fi devices. Obviously! (Although, sharing an EVDO connection between friends can tax a friendship terribly.)

Since it's an all in one machine, will it replace your house's internet? No, its not designed to, because of the limited range, and speed compared to cable modems and faster DSL connections. And Verizon's 5GB/month limit for its $60 unlimited plan. (There's a useless 250MB plan for $40). The MiFi is $100 with a 2 year contract, after a $50 rebate. Later in the year, Sprint will also carry the device, if you prefer their network better as we do.

I don't know if I need this, as I've got an EVDO card for my computer, and my phone has internet on it. I guess I belong to part of the population that doesn't worry so much about portable WiFi on a separate piece of gear, no matter how nice the hardware is. But I'd take this thing.

Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

Smallest 3G/Wi-Fi combo I've ever seen.




Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

Fairly priced; about the same cost as a regular 3G data card, with more flexibility.




Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

Specifically for people who want to share a 3G connection with other devices; if you don't need that, get a regular card for your laptop.




Verizon MiFi 2200 3G Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

We rate Sprint's network slightly faster, and that device is coming out later in the year. Although the Sprint's metallic case may (I am only guessing) have worse reception than the plastic case.