1 MiFi mobile broadband units
A MiFi unit is a compact gadget that enables users of multiple devices to get online at the same time using the same 3G mobile broadband signal. In much the same way as home broadband wireless routers, create a localized signal with a maximum range of around 10 metres. This can then be shared between all manner of devices, from broadband laptops, smartphones to games consoles. MiFis are a brilliant way of saving money for families who need to get online with multiple applications, but who may not need or want to pay out for a standard home broadband service. They’re also ideal for student households and for working while on the move.
Currently, the only UK broadband providers offering MiFis are 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone. 3 and Vodafone customers can expect a connection of up to 7.2Mb, while T-Mobile MiFi mobile broadband users get a connection of up to 4.5Mb.
2 Vodafone cradle
Sighted for the first time this month at the Mobile World Conference technology expo, this ground-breaking gadget also allows a mobile broadband to be shared between more than one device. However, it differs in the respect that cradles do not create a mobile broadband themselves. Instead users simply place their dongle in a slot in the top of the cradle. The device then converts this into a wireless signal that can be used by anyone in the vicinity.
A cradle is brilliant if you want the portability of a dongle, but occasionally also want to be able to share that connection with others.
3 BT Accelerator
Dissatisfied with your broadband service? Help is at hand with the BT iPlate, which can boost your speeds by up to 1.5Mb and provide you with a more stable connection. How? Simple. The iPlate works by filtering out inference from TVs, lights and other everyday electrical equipment that can affect the strength of your signal, and by extension the speed of your broadband connection.
It’s also supremely easy to fit with no removal of wires involved. And perhaps best of all, if you’re a BT Total Broadband customer, it’s free.
4 WiFi detector T-Shirt
Created by ThinkGeek, this wacky bit of tailoring allows you to locate WiFi hotspots while you’re on the go. To enable you to monitor the quality of the signal in a location, the T-Shirt is emblazoned with a series of glowing bars on the front that light up according to the strength of the wireless connection in the vicinity.
5 The Vodafone SureSignal
Vodafone’s SureSignal is an example of a Femtocell – a device that harnesses your home broadband connection to improve the quality of the mobile phone coverage in your home and can even create a reception where there is none at all. These are box-shaped plug-in gadgets that connect to a home broadband router and uses it to create a localized 3G mobile broadband signal.
Users can register up to 32 phones on a single SureSignal and provides sufficient signal for four handsets to be used at one time. Currently, Vodafone is the sole UK phone network to offer a Femtocell. But if industry predictions are correct, all major carriers will follow suit very, very soon.
6 CUK Broadband Usage Gadget for Windows
This excellent download lets users monitor their broadband usage with amazing efficiency. This means that not only can they ensure they’re within their monthly usage limit, but they can monitor any unusual, unauthorized traffic.
Compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7 and supremely easy to install, CUK’s handy download refreshes every 30 minutes, meaning that you’re right up to date with your usage at all times.
7 Huawei football dongle
World Cup fever is almost upon us. And in a bid to capitalise on the mania for all things sphere-shaped, Huawei has created a mobile broadband dongle in the shape of a football. We love the neat stand that it sits in, complete with Barcelona player ready to thrash it goal-wards. And we’re more than a little upset that this is unlikely to get picked up by any major UK broadband provider.
8 WiFi dowsing rod
Bonkers pseudo science and the modern world come together in this amusing novelty from by Dutch tech prankster Mike Thompson aka MikeT. He claims he came up with the idea of the none-more-trad design to help and reassure people who are baffled by today’s “ultra small, ultra portable, metallic or white devices”. What a wag, eh?
9 Netgear MBRN3300E 3G wireless router
Rather like a MiFi, Netgear’s MBRN3300E 3G Wireless Router allows multiple users to share a single mobile broadband connection in the home and when out and about. It merits inclusion in the list for its handy car charger, internal 3G radio, SPI firewall, bandwidth usage meter as well as the option to set up parental controls. Prices are as yet unconfirmed, but expect a release later this year.
10 Hawking Technologies Wireless Signal Booster
If you’ve got especially thick walls in house or live in a home with multiple levels, you might find you struggle to pick up a reliable WiFi connection in certain parts of your home. Help is at hand in the shape of Hawking Technologies Wireless Signal Booster. Widely regarded as the best of its kind, this device increases the reach of your signal by as much as 600 per cent. It’s also easy to install and houses signal filters to minimize wireless interference.