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Picky about WiFi? You need MiFi!

November 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Do you have a laptop and need WiFi everywhere ?

MiFi 2200

Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200

I have a great connection at home and work, but I need WiFi everywhere. Why?, because my data is in the cloud.  My office is really anywhere I can get two things working in the same place – phone and WiFi.

Information at your fingertips is very powerful.

Now that you have committed to this digital lifestyle, your WiFi and phone connections become critical to you.  I buy my cell phone service by coverage, more than what type of phone device.  A great voice call is better than any phone hardware feature for me.   The same idea with my digital data, I would rather have a laptop with all the benefits rather than a small device that is expensive, cramped and likely to be outdated in a time frame measured in weeks.  I watch TV, view podcasts, e-mail, Facebook, etc in this digital lifestyle – I prefer the MacBook Pro as my seat on the Internet.

I purchased a card {ExpressCard} that plugged into my MacBook Pro (from Alltel) that gave me an Internet Connection anywhere my Alltel phone worked.  This covered most of my needs very well. It really worked well in the car.  It was also useful in other places that offered free WiFi that was often not working very well (too often this is a real problem).   Free Internet WiFi can be a pain if it doesn’t work.  It can also potentially be a security risk so you have to factor that in too.

Verizon has bought out Alltel in Manhattan KS and I wanted to make some changes to my service. I was enjoying an Internet connection on demand and my family and friends were starting to notice. I would be in business meetings and suddenly having a computer with an Internet connection was really useful. People would want to borrow my laptop (sorry, there are some things I will not share – my laptop is one of them), so rather than being rude, I ended up looking up information for them. People pickup up quickly on good solutions and rightly so.

Verizon was showing a new device (Sprint has one too) called a MiFi 2200 by Novatel Wireless.  I knew I had to convert over and get one.  MiFi is really a phone, router, and WiFi hotspot that is the size of a deck of playing cards (about 1/2 the thickness of a deck of playing cards). It is really simple to setup, it allows up to 5 devices to securely use it at one time. It lasts 4 hours on the battery. Push the button and you have Internet WiFi (MiFi) for 5 devices.  It does have a way to monitor how much total usage of bandwidth you have used for the month (Verizon allows for 5G bytes per month).

So what did I gain by switching to MiFi?  1) No device drivers – if you can use WiFi with your device, you can connect.  That is awesome! Mac, PC, Linux, Android Phones, wireless XBox, etc.  2) Works anywhere your Verizon phone works (coverage map).  3) Your wife’s laptop and iPhone, your child’s iPod, and that new neat gadget that uses WiFi can all use the connection at the same time, even in the car while you are traveling.  I use it when traveling with my wife, where she uses HER laptop and locates a restaurant, we call in and the food is waiting there for us.  You could do this with a smart phone, but it is so much faster using a large screen, reading reviews of the restaurant on a laptop and seeking points of interest in the city you are visiting.  The MiFi also frees up your phone to make that call.  Tethering with the phone to a laptop is unwieldy and usually kills this phone for making voice calls.

Practical advice: If you are one person and prefer a smart phone, then put your dollars in a data plan for the smart phone. You might want to consider the MiFi if you have a slower connection at home – say a satellite dish for Internet access.  If you wish to have more than one connected WiFi device – MiFi is a great solution.  MiFi is limited to 5G bytes of data per month, it will cost you $59/month + tax and it really is just another WiFi connection.  So if you can use the home WiFI, work WiFi, hotel, restaurant or coffee shop WiFi by all means do so.  Save the MiFi for when it really counts like in the car or when you want to be online in that business meeting room where there is no WiFI.

MiFi as your secondary WiFi connection makes a lot of sense and is very powerful.

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