Get multiple devices on the Net with U Mobile's HSPA+ wireless router.
By ZAM KARIM
HAVING a separate Internet service for each of your device such as a laptop, smartphone and Tablet PC can be an expensive affair.
If your smartphone has a tethering function you can use that to save money but there are drawbacks. Using your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot will drain the battery faster. It also makes the smartphone hotter and personally we just don't like that.
There is another option to share your Interent connection that has fewer drawbacks. You can invest in a little device called a MiFi which is basically a battery-powered wireless router that runs on 3G signal.
For this review, we checked out the ZTE MF60 MiFi with a complementary one-month mobile broadband subscription from U Mobile. Since one can't work without the other, we decided to checkout both in this review.
Ease of use
The pebble-shaped glossy black device is really easy to hold and lug around due to its small size and lightweight.
There is a built-in OLED screen on the front for displaying the device's status and on the side are the power and WPS (WiFi protected setup) buttons.
For the uninitiated, WPS makes it easy to set up a secure WiFi connection with another device that also supports the standard.
There is also a microSD card slot which supports cards of up to 32GB in size.
The MiFi is very easy to use. Simply slot in a SIM card, switch on the device and it will automatically search and connect to the 3G network.
By default, the WiFi comes password protected. The password consists of a string of 11 numbers that can be found on the device itself.
It supports three working modes: USB mode where the device is connected to the MiFi via cable, wireless mode and mixed mode (both wireless and wired)
In wireless or mixed mode, up to five devices can connect to the MiFi to share the Internet connection.
On the move
The theoretical speed for a HSPA+ network, such as U Mobile's, is 21.6Mbps (mebabits per second) for download and 5.76Mbps for upload.
However, in practice it not possible to get such speeds. We tested the speed in several areas in the Klang Valley - mainly from Shah Alam to Kuala Lumpur.
Speed varied depending on the locations - we usually got faster connection in the city and for outskirts the connection tended to be patchy. For instance, around KLCC we regularly reached the top speed of 10Mbps and averaged at 2Mbps.
Of course, venturing outdoors improved the speed and reliability. When used indoor, especially in big buildings, be prepared for intermittent coverage.
Also, we didn't notice any significant delay when browsing the Web, checking e-mail messages and updating our social media status on several Tablets and smartphones simultaneously in zones with good coverage.
You can even use the device while in a moving vehicle - the connection speed will vary from one place to another as expected.
Also, while the MiFi nicely fits in a pocket, you will have to take it out to get the best reception.
The battery lasted about five hours before it had to be sent to the charging station. That's pretty standard for a MiFi but we wish it could last as long as our Tablets.
U Mobile has two prepaid Internet broadband packages: The MB68 (RM68) with a 5GB data quota and the MB128 (RM128) with a 20GB quota. Also, there is also a one-time activation fee of RM100.
Signing up for any of the package allows you to buy the MiFi for RM250 or rent it for RM20 a month.
The going price for a HSPA+ USB modem in the market is about RM400 which makes the U Mobile offer quite attractive. However, the MiFi from U Mobile is locked to its network. This is a standard practise for most.
The data package you choose will depend on your average data consumption and usage.
Even though it means that you have to carry an extra device, the MiFi is a very handy device to have around. It is an easy-to-use device that allows multiple devices to surf on the Net.
Of course, cost is always an issue. You'll have to invest RM250 for the wireless modem which is, unfortunately, tied to a particular network. You can always choose to rent it for RM20 a month if you don't want to pay so much up front.
In terms of usage, the experience can be amazing or frustrating depending on your location as the 3G coverage and speed varies a lot.
We highly recommend that you check out the coverage in you area before commiting to a plan.
Pros: Easy to use; MiFi works as advertised.
Cons: MiFI is locked to one network; battery life could be better; wireless broadband coverage depends on locations.
U Mobile (MF 60)
HSPA+ wireless router
SPECIFICATIONS: HSDPA/HSUPA/UMTS 850/1900/2100 MHz
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 99.7 x 53.7 x 13.9mm
PRICE: Postpaid plan starts at RM68. MiFi costs RM250 to buy or RM20 a month to rent
RATING: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of U Mobile Sdn Bhd, (018) 388-1318