The USP of Mi-Fi’s like the Novatel Wireless 2352 is that they enable users to share a mobile broadband signal between up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices – be they phones, laptops, computers or games consoles - simultaneously. Conversely, a dongle or data card can be used by just one person or device at a time.
Connecting the 2352 is simplicity itself. With no software installation to worry about, we were surfing the highways and byways of the internet within seconds of unpacking. And when used with a single laptop in Regents Park with a 3 SIM card we enjoyed wholly impressive download speeds of between 1.8Mb and 2Mb.
So what’s it like when put to the test with more than one user, then? Pretty impressive actually. To really put the Mi-Fi through the wringer, we used it at home for a couple of games of Pro Evo online on our Wii, while our housemate was streaming video on his laptop and another was buying tickets online on his phone.
The amount of ping I experienced was no different to the levels I’m become used to with our home connection. And my stand-in co-reviewers were impressed enough to dub 3’s gizmo, “a natty bit of kit”.
Functionality aside, Novatel’s device is a bit of a looker. The tablet shape, curved edges and shiny black finish embody the best of noughties gadget design. And with dimensions that mean it’s smaller than most latter-day mobile phones, it’s compact and light enough to carry around in your pocket.
Of course, unlike a dongle, however, the fact that the 2352 is battery-powered means that you’ll need to think about charging it up before you head off on your travels. But given that you’ll get four hours of battery life when used with a single device, it’s not too onerous by any means.
Overall, we were highly impressed with 3’s bold bit of tech. So, if you’re an early adopter who is done with your data card and want to ditch your dongle, or if you haven’t yet joined the mobile broadband revolution, we heartily recommend you consider a Mi-Fi.