Third Time's A Charm

In the last few years, I've learnt something - wearable technology has a long way to go.


Garmin Vivosmart HR

After my Garmin Vivosmart bit the dust, here's my thoughts on its replacement.

edge


My review of the Garmin Vivosmart after nearly two months of usage…. Read More...

iPad Mini 2 (Retina)

At the time of purchasing my iPad Mini, stock was limited and purchase was by reservation only. Would I advise you to get in the queue? Read More...

Kindle, Schmindle

Other book-reading devices are available….

Mince Pi

Tenuously-titled? Surely not.

MiFi 2

A couple days before Christmas, I did something that I’ve never done before - I lost a mobile device.

The victim was my poor MiFi (previously reviewed here), which I’ve had for nearly two years. It’s a wonderful device and has provided me with cheap and reasonable internet access on the move. I don’t quite know what happened, but on my usual train, the 7.49 to Cardiff, I must have left it on the seat. On realisation, I went through the seven stages of grief and accepted that I probably wouldn’t see it again. If a commuter hasn’t got themselves an early Christmas present, I’ve pretty much lost it to First Great Western’s overly bureaucratic lost-property office.

Luckily, I had a pleasant surprise when I called my network provider to report the loss. The blocked the device and said they’d send me a new “up to date” version, as long as I carried on the contract.

…and so, twenty-four hours later, I had a shiny new MiFi in my hands. Huzzah!


There are a few things that strike you when you first have a peek. Firstly, it’s been given a makeover. It’s like a little black pebble now, with a rather handy status screen to let you know what’s going on. Someone has also rather sensibly put a thingummybob to allow you to physically secure it to whatever you want to - which should prevent idiots like me from losing the damn things.

Perhaps the best improvements, though, are the web-based configuration interface (which means that anything that has a browser can set up the device) and the automatic connection that takes place as soon as you switch it on. Once on, it connects and fires up the WiFi within about five seconds. Simplicity is the best bit of it - It has even less buttons than its predecessor. The only other button is the one that displays the network ID and password. As before, you can connect up to five devices to it, but how much bandwidth everyone gets will depend on how good your coverage is. It seems that they’ve even thought about how to improve coverage too. Included in the box is a proper docking station which also charges the device and angles things for the best reception. Huawei seem to have considered everything.

In terms of performance, it’s said that with the addition of HSDPA, bandwidth is supposed to have massively improved over the previous iteration. Whilst it’s hard to give absolute values for this (because your coverage, network and computer might have some bearing on the performance), I averaged at least 3MB/s in good coverage 3G and city areas, and about 800KB/s in my “not to good” home area, which impresses me. There are still rural areas that don’t even get 512K lines with conventional wired broadband, let alone mobile versions. In most cases, the upload speed wasn’t too far off the download speed (tested with speedtest.net). It’s hard to say if the speed improvements are due to improved network coverage, a better antenna, or simply the HSPDA bit, but my hunch leads to me to think it’s a combination of all three. I used TuneIn Radio through my iPhone and car stereo as the test (6Music, I do wish you’d broadcast on FM!) and dropouts were very short and rare. The quality of connection seems to have improved.

If you’re using the device without its charger, then battery life will depend upon how much you hammer it. From full-battery to empty, you should get 6+ hours of continuous use. However, I’m just charging mine up again after a few weeks of slightly more intermittent use (about 20 mins/day). It’s got a standard USB connector if you want to charge it up on the go.

Do I recommend getting one of these? Of course I do. It’s damn good way of having mobile data, miles better than those awful USB stick affairs - and you can share it, too. Lots of small improvements have been made in every area, showing that a lot of thought has gone into the revamp. Setup is simpler, connection is simpler and the speed is better. I have to say that it’s seriously impressed me. If you’ve got an iPad, laptop or equivalent, you could do a lot worse than buy one.

Now I just need to make sure that I don’t lose this one.


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Efergy Energy Meter

It's a smart electricity consumption monitoring device - and it doesn't need any wiring. How does it work? Or indeed, does it work at all? Read More...

Asus Eee PC

Looking for a very small (and cheap) computer? Read on - this seems to fit the bill... Read More...