Three’s new Mi-Fi effort, the Huawei E586 improves on the E585 model from last year with a number of useful new features. This time around, it brings support for HSPA+, also known as Evolved High-Speed Packet Access, which Three claims can offer up to 40 per cent faster download speeds than its predecessor. We put it through its paces to find out if that’s really the case.
Mi-Fi, for those uninitiated, is a mobile device that acts much like a router that you might have at home connected to a fixed broadband line. The difference is that can take your Mi-Fi with you anywhere thanks to 3G connectivity that uses Three’s mobile network to deliver wireless access to the internet for multiple devices simultaneously.
The new device remains largely unchanged in form factor. It's shaped almost exactly like its older brother with curved corners all-round, except that now the front of the device is made up of single piece of glass, giving it a much slicker look and feel.
There’s also an additional button just above the power button on the right side of the device that instantly displays the SSID and security key of the Mi-Fi, which is pretty handy when connecting new devices to the network. As always with Mi-Fi's, you can connect up to five web-enabled gadgets at a time.
The front-facing OLED display returns and details information such as signal strength, the number of devices connected, battery life, downlink speed, time and network name. A microSD slot is also present, allowing you to use the Mi-Fi as a flash drive.
Another new feature, or accessory rather, is the charging cradle Three is bundling with the E586. This is handy if you use the device for long periods at a time at the office or on a desktop at home and enables you to keep an eye on the screen. Plus, it looks much cooler docked, so there’s that.
This is the important bit. After all, what’s the point of a revamped 3G device if it doesn’t improve on its primary function of connecting you to the web?
We put the E586 through its paces at our Camden office and it came away smiling with a 3.96Mb download speed. That compares with 2.49Mb offered by the E585 - an impressive 37.12 per cent increase.
It’s great, to say the least, to see a device actually performing so close to its maximum advertised speed. With Three undergoing its upgrade programme to roll out the HSPA+ standard across the whole of its 3G network, the fastest connection speed it provides will increase to up to 21.1Mb.
We’re quite impressed by the Huawei E586. It delivered a stable connection the entire time we used it and at a speed that pleasantly surprised us. Connecting was simply a matter of powering on the device, grabbing the security details and typing them into our computer.
If you already have a Three Mi-Fi and could use the extra speed, it’s well worth upgrading. If you’re looking into an alternative to your home broadband or perhaps need internet on the move for your laptop or tablet, we can’t recommend it enough.
Pricing details for the Mi-Fi can be found here.