Tag Archives: t-mobile

Review: the Novatel Wireless Mobile Hotspot (MiFi to you and me)

MiFi

For the last month or so I’ve been playing around with a review copy of Novatel’s MiFi, a portable wifi hotspot that allows you to connect to the web with multiple devices.

It’s a cute bit of kit – slightly shorter than an iPhone, and ideal for journalists because it bridges the need for a wifi hotspot while addressing the limitations of a 3G smartphone.

The technology is pretty straightforward: inside the MiFi is a SIM card which pulls a 3G signal that is converted into that wifi hotspot.

Up to 5 devices can then connect to the web through that hotspot – there’s a password which is shown, intelligently, on the back of the battery cover.

Clearly you need a 3G signal for the MiFi to work – it’s great in urban areas but less successful where there’s poor mobile coverage. But even with a relatively low 3G signal the wifi hotspot is surprisingly strong. And even if you already have access to wifi – or a 3G dongle – the MiFi provides a second, often more reliable, connection for uploading material.

In fact, if you’re relying on 3G connections for mobile journalism I would recommend having a MiFi on one mobile operator, a pay as you go 3G dongle with another, and a smartphone on a third.

I managed to stream video very easily from my laptop, connected to the web on the iPod Touch, and had a group of MA Online Journalism students using it to access the web while we conducted a lesson. (aside from journalism it’s perfect for mobile education).

Sadly, I didn’t get to try out the Eye-Fi card alongside it, but now that it’s hit the UK I’m hoping to play with that too. The Eye-Fi sends images and video straight from an SD card to social media via a wifi hotspot, so you could use an SLR camera or mini camcorder with a MiFi to upload your footage as soon as you shoot it without having to mess with laptops or smartphones (or police officers).

The major weakness, however, is battery power: the specifications say that the MiFi should have 4 hours battery life after a charge (which is, to its credit, quick). But this is shorter if you have multiple devices, and after 4 weeks of using it (and yes, it will have been used by other reviewers), the battery no longer held its charge. Given that you have to sign up to a contract to get the MiFi*, this is rather worrying.

UPDATE: The company that sent me the unit tell me “Standard warranty for the Novatel Wireless Intelligent Mobile Hotspot 2352 is 24 months.”

That aside, this is a must-have piece of kit for me.

*Contract details:

T-Mobile:

  • Pay Monthly Contract (18 months)
  • Device is free at point of sale, then £20/mth (3GB data according to T-Mobile Fair Usage Policy)

Vodafone:

  • Pay Monthly Contract (24 months)
  • Option (1) Device purchase is £69.99, then GBP 15/mth with 3GB data
  • Option (2) Device is free, then £25/mth with 5GB data
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Twitter cancels UK SMS – the Facebook campaign to sort it out

UPDATE 10: Current startups include TweetSMS, Zygotweet, Twitmobile, Twittex, HootSMS, 3jam, Tweeteroo and TwitSMS.

UPDATE 9: Two workarounds suggested

UPDATE 8: Avatar campaign now under way. Now available for  the following mobile operators: 3 (http://www.tw3t.com/f/25l); O2: http://www.tw3t.com/f/25m; Orange: http://www.tw3t.com/f/25g; T-Mobile: www.tw3t.com/f/25o; Virgin Mobile (http://www.tw3t.com/f/25n); and Vodafone: http://www.tw3t.com/f/25k. Generic image also created by dear2world

UPDATE 7: Nathan Monk is suggesting a campaign of sending ‘boo’ tweets to Twitter founder Biz Stone

UPDATE 6: Journalism.co.uk reports on the impact on many newspapers’ plans

UPDATE 5: Interview about TweetSMS at ArabCrunch.

UPDATE 4: Also filling that gap are Zygotweet.com – also recommended is Jaiku.

UPDATE 3: Also from the Facebook group wall: Some are calling for a ‘Twitter strike’ on August 18

UPDATE 2: That gap in the market has already been spotted: TweetSMS.com (also on Twitter) offers to deliver text messages “for a low price”. On the Facebook group Wall Bullying.co.uk (also on Twitter) notes of Twitter’s official statement: “the prices they are getting charged are way over the odds: on the volume they are hitting it could be as low as 0.3 – 0.5p a text.”

UPDATE: Nicolas Gosset has set up a group to campaign in France

So Twitter has cancelled SMS updates for users outside of the US, Canada and India, apparently because it has been unable to arrange decent billing deals with mobile operators outside of those countries.

So I’ve set up a Facebook group in the UK to put some pressure on mobile operators to cut a deal, fast. It’s in their interests, after all – how many of us started to use text messaging more often because of Twitter? And how many of us are now going to stop?

Hope you can join and add to the numbers (even if you’re not in the UK). Also, if you’re not in the UK, please set up a group for your own country, let me know about it, and we can build a network of these.

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