I love my MiFi device. In a few minutes it solved several sticky web connection problems that have been bugging me, and will save me money at the same time. For one thing, I'll never pay a hotel, airport or coffee chain for internet access again. This cool little device, launched in 2009, is the world's smallest mobile WiFi hotspot; weighing just 2 ounces, and about the thickness of six credit cards.
MiFi, which is made by Novatel Wireless, is a personal WiFi hotspot you carry in your pocket. It's fast, easy, simple to set up and provides high-speed data access for up to five devices simultaneously, including laptops, netbooks, iPads, cameras or any other device you need to get online. It is, without a doubt, the fastest, easiest way to get online, on-the-go for multiple users. Share it with clients, co-workers, business partners or family and friends. All they have to do is logon with the password printed on the back of your MiFi unit. It's ideal for the mobile professional and creates a virtual office wherever you go.
MiFi takes a 3G mobile broadband connection and converts it to WiFi, which means you need a monthly data plan from one of the growing number of carriers now offering the device. These include Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, USA Cell, Cellular South and others worldwide. The top-end data plan typically allows for 5GB for $59.95 monthly. Carriers typically discount the device itself to $29-$49 or less.
I walked in and out of a Verizon Wireless store -- MiFi in hand, and with service established -- in about 20 minutes. It took another few minutes to hook the device to my computer (via included USB cord), download the necessary software and click a button to activate the unit. That's it. This now allows me to cancel landline and DSL service at one of my offices and use cell and MiFi for all the phone and internet connections I need, a big savings even after paying for MiFi.
It also answered my iPad dilemma. I bought the WiFi version, but was regretting not having 3G. Now I don't need it because I have MiFi instead. And I could even connect four other iPads (laptops, etc.) in the same room if it ever came to that. The rechargeable battery provides about 4-5 hours of active use and 40 hours of standby.
John Wenzel, an IT consultant in Kansas City, is a MiFi convert as well. Wenzel works with the Kansas City Irish Festival and needed a way to stream video of live performances. MiFi was his answer. "We never had a way to get an Internet connection out on the festival grounds," he says. "Providing a mobile, always-on connection in the middle of a large crowd was impossible; not to mention the need for a really long power cord. Armed with his MiFi, a simple webcam and two laptops, Wenzel was able to upload streaming audio and video via one computer, while at the same time watch the downloaded broadcast from the festival home page on the second laptop, with both running off a single MiFi.
It's amazing what they've crammed into this little marvel. Tech guys will tell you that the MiFi 2200 features integrated CDMA and WiFi antennas, advanced security and authentication, is GPS-enabled for location-based services and supports multiple operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
I just say it's terrific.