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MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot (Verizon Wireless)

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This credit card–size device makes it a cinch to set up a hotspot anywhere, anytime.


It’s easily one of the most innovative 3G devices of the year. About the size of a credit card, the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot seamlessly connects to Verizon’s EV-DO Rev. A network and lets you share that connection with up to five people. And we’re not just talking about other notebooks: anything from Wi-Fi–enabled portable media players and gaming devices to digital cameras can connect to the MiFi 2200. At $99.99 for the device, and $59.99 a month for 5GB of data, this device should be useful for mobile individuals with multiple gadgets, small teams of workers who want to stay connected while out of the office, and families who want to keep their kids entertained on road trips.
Design

Designed by Novatel Wireless, the MiFi 2200 is a study in minimalism; at 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches, the device’s footprint is a hair larger than a business card, and about as thick as 20 stacked together. The top is glossy black (which picks up fingerprints easily) with a Verizon logo and a power button that turns green when the device is on. The underside is a slightly rubberized matte black; one side has nothing but a microUSB port, save for a small green light on the side that blinks to indicate a signal is being sent.
Setup

Installation of the MiFi 2200 is very straightforward and takes less than 10 minutes. Simply plug the device into your PC using the included USB cable, and it automatically runs the VZAccess Manager installation app. Of course, you don’t even need to do that, as the MiFi 2200 acts just like a regular wireless router. After turning on the device, the MiFi 2200 appears in the Wireless Connection window as any other router would.

When you access the MiFi’s URL—as with just about every other router, it’s 192.168.1.1—you can change its name, configure its password (the default password is written on a sticker on the back of the device), and so on; it works like any other wireless router. Conveniently, the page also displays how much battery life remains in the MiFi 2200. One thing we do suggest changing is the automatic shutdown feature: By default, the MiFi 2200 will go into hibernation every 30 minutes. You can set it to deactivate after longer intervals, or not at all.
Web Surfing

Quantitatively, the MiFi 2200 achieved fairly decent upload and download speeds. Using Speedtest.net, we measured the throughput of the MiFi 2200 to both a Sony VAIO SR notebook and the iPhone. On the notebook, we notched a download rate of 2.2 Mbps, and an upload speed of 512 Kbps. On the iPhone, we were able to get a download rate of 1.6 Mbps, and an upload speed of 717 Kbps. Similarly, using an iPod touch, we were able to get a download rate of 1.2 Mbps, and an upload speed of 614 Kbps. These speeds compare nicely with other Verizon Wireless broadband solutions, such as the USB727 Modem and the KPC680.

The device works while on the go, too: taking the train from New York City through New Jersey, we left the MiFi 2200 in our bag while using the VAIO to surf the Web. We connected just as easily and quickly as if using our home network, and most pages loaded within 5 seconds.
Streaming Video and Music

Within a short range, the MiFi 2200 worked well. We connected both the VAIO notebook and an iPhone to the device. Setting the VAIO about 10 feet away, we streamed a movie from Hulu at full-screen. The flick played well, only occasionally pausing for the buffer to catch up.

Streaming audio to both the VAIO and the iPhone worked like a charm, too. With the VAIO playing a Pandora station, we opened Slacker on the iPhone. Neither stream was affected, and even from 20 feet away, Slacker continued to play music without a hitch. If you have two kids who can’t agree on what radio station to listen to, this device will be a lifesaver.

At a 10-foot distance, we connected an iPhone and two iPod touch devices to the MiFi 2200, as well as the VAIO. With all three Apple products streaming music from Slacker, we streamed another Hulu video at full-screen on the VAIO. While music played smoothly on the Apple devices, the video on the VAIO took a hit, pausing every few seconds.
Making Calls Over Wi-Fi

While the movie continued playing, we used the Skype application on the iPhone. Both in calls to other Skype users and to friends on cell phones, the quality was excellent. Within 10 to 15 feet from the MiFi, callers said that we sounded no different than if we were using a traditional cell phone, and we could hear them just as clearly. However, once we moved about 20 feet away from the MiFi 2200, quality began to suffer: we would hear our own voice echo, and callers said they couldn’t hear our voice.
Heat

The MiFi 2200 gets rather warm when in use, measuring 110 degrees Fahrenheit on the back; if you keep this it in your pocket, you’re going to feel it. The device is rated for up to 4 hours of use, and up to 40 hours of standby. In our heavy-usage scenario (streaming video and audio to the VAIO and iPhone, and making Skype calls using the iPhone), the MiFi 2200 was down to 25 percent power after 2 hours of use.
Pricing

The MiFi 2200 costs $99.99 (with two-year contract and a $50 mail-in rebate), and Verizon Wireless offers two data plans: 250MB worth of downloads for $39.99 per month (with a 10 cents–per-megabyte overage charge) or 5GB for $59.99 per month (with a 5 cents–per-megabyte overage charge). If you purchase the MiFi 2200 without a contract ($270), you can use the device with a 24-hour Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband DayPass, which costs $15.
Verdict

The Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 will be invaluable to those who need Internet access not just for themselves, but for small groups that travel together. While it’s larger than a typical USB or ExpressCard modem, this device is much more portable than traditional mobile broadband routers like the LevelOne WBR-3800 MobileSpot Portable Wireless Hotspot or WalkingHotspot (although these products support more simultaneous users). When you consider that it would cost the same per month to use an individual broadband card from Verizon Wireless, the MiFi 2200 makes more financial sense because of its versatility. Plus, the ease with which you can connect to the MiFi 2200—and share it with others—makes this device a must-have for any road warrior.

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1 comments

  1. Jesse // May 19, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

    Very nice piece on the MiFi device! It is great to see other companies breaking into the mobile broadband market, there’s a lot of potential left to explore. More companies pushing the industry will help make it a widely recognized connectivity tool. CradlePoint Technology has been heading-up the market and perfecting their products for several years now. Their WiPipe technology and freedom to choose any provider really saves money and enables users to access higher speed browsing, utilize a longer signal range (150’ plus), provide access to even more people and do it all with guaranteed security. Might be worth checking out if your looking for a more controlled way to stay connected.

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