Mobile Internet is getting hot, and with mobile bandwidth rates reaching dizzying new heights thanks to 4G LTE, the allure of high speed Internet on-the-go is becoming ever more irresistible. The latest and greatest mobile WiFi hotspot to emerge from the halls of Big Red is the Verizon MiFi line. The Novatel V4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L is already out there in the wild, and there have been reports from Seattle-based users that it’s pretty sweet—but with some caveats. Alternately, there are USB dongles that work for a single device. Read on for more details.
Pricing and Plans
Verizon’s 4G LTE plan comes in two flavors: a 5 GB per month plan for $50 or a 10 GB plan for $80 a month. For each additional GB of data that you use that goes over your monthly limit, you get charged a whopping $10. That’s fairly steep, especially if you’re already paying for a data plan on your phone. Compared to Sprints comparable service, which gives you slightly slower speeds but unlimited data for $59.99/month, Verizon’s pricing isn’t exactly compelling. There is also no unlimited plan from Verizon at the moment.
The Novatel MiFi device is a wireless hot spot that lets you connect up to five devices at a time, just as you would when connecting to a home or public WiFi network. With the Verizon 4G LTE plan, you can get speeds up to 20 Mbps for donwloads and 7 MBps for uploads. The Novatel MiFi is capable of connecting to a 4G or 3G network, depending on which has coverage in your area. The obvious benefits of the 4G network connection is that it’s much faster—but it also sucks down battery life much faster than 3G. Unfortunately, there is no option that allows you to disable the 4G radio. The good news is that the device still works when charging via USB or an AC outlet.
Verizon 4G USB Dongles
Verizon offers a selection of 4G dongles as well. Oddly, they are priced similarly to the Novatel MiFi device, in spite of only being able to provide Internet for one device at a time. The Pnatech 4G UML290 is likely the best of the Verizon USB dongle bunch, as it supports both Mac and PC and has a sturdier build than the others. It also features a slot for an external 3G or 4G antenna, which can significantly boost your reception. Speedwise, it outpaces most public WiFi networks you’ll encounter at airports and coffee shops.
The 4G LTE offerings from Verizon are certainly impressive. They are fast, fast, fast, provide that you’re in an area that gets 4G coverage. Urban areas like Seattle and San Francisco are obviously covered, but if you’re out in the sticks, you should definitely check the coverage map before investing. The big downside is the solidly disappointing pricing scheme and lack of unlimited data plan. Although you’ll be able to comfortably stream high definition movies and download large files with ease, you won’t want to for fear of racking up those nasty overage charges.