Novatel MiFi 2352 review
The combination of wireless router with an HSDPA modem is not a new one, but the MiFi 2352 takes the concept one step further.
Instead of simply adding support for a USB mobile broadband dongle to a standard wireless router, the MiFi incorporates 3G hardware and Wi-Fi together and wraps them up in a package so small and neat, you could carry it around anywhere.
It really is a tiny little box – about the size of a small, squat mobile phone, weighing just 81g – and it crams an awful lot in. You get an HSDPA modem capable of speeds of up to 7.2Mbits/sec and a basic 802.11bg wireless router, which allows up to five devices to share one mobile broadband connection.
There’s a rechargeable 1,530mAh lithium ion battery inside, plus a MicroSD card slot for sharing files and a microUSB connector for charging the device.
You can use the MiFi as a standard USB dongle as you charge it up. And there’s even assisted-GPS built in, which when used in USB mode can pinpoint your precise position on Google Maps, MSN Live Maps or Yahoo! Local Maps.
And, despite its small size we found it worked really well. Its range is only advertised as 10m, but we found we were able to connect to it from a distance of 40m, with two walls in the way, and browse comfortably.
It was perfectly usable at closer range, providing responsive browsing with our test T-Mobile SIM. And although we didn’t expect it to, the battery lasted a long time – after three hours using the Wi-Fi connection it was still going strong.
This makes it ideal for all sorts of applications. You could use it for supplying impromptu network connections in meeting rooms. Those in rented accommodation who don’t want the hassle of being tied down to a landline will find it more flexible than a dongle, especially in situations where they only get a good signal in one place in the house.
And it’s a superior alternative to a standard dongle for mobile workers – no more awkward USB stick protruding from the rear or the side of your laptop with the MiFi.
There are problems. Setting it up, as usual with third party mobile broadband devices, can be fiddly – you’ll have to find out your APN settings either from your network operator, or by hunting around on the web. And it isn’t the cleverest device either: to use it in both USB dongle and Wi-Fi mode you have to set up two separate, identical profiles.
But these are nothing compared to the biggest barrier standing in the MiFi 2352’s path: the price. It costs a ludicrous £187 exc VAT – that’s more than the cost of most mobile broadband contracts over 12 months. That means, unless you can find it subsidised somewhere on a network deal, we can’t possibly recommend it.
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Gigabit LAN ports||0|
|10/100 LAN ports||0|
|MAC address cloning||no|
|Wireless bridge (WDS)||no|
|WPA Enterprise support||no|
|WPS (wireless protected setup)||no|
|MAC address filtering||no|
|Dimensions||98 x 62 x 14mm (WDH)|