Another month brings another Gadget purchase. This time its the Huawei E5830 Mifi thingummy, a combined 3g mobile broadband modem and portable wifi hotspot. Once again it is on the 3 network.
The reasons for buy it are twofold. Firstly the internal GPRS modem in my Ubisurfer has gone down, rendering it useless without another means of connectivity (at least until Datawind’s tech support sort me out a replacement or fix); and secondly, my trust Huawei E220 USB broadband modem is being pressed into service as a permanet net connection for my Linux box running a game server (until Virgin can final get around to installing proper broadband for me).
That’s enough of me justifying the purchase, let’s have a look at the thing.
Ah, you’re thinking, there are four lights! Well, the fifth light (in the middle, not shown) only comes on when you first power up the device or if you feel an irresistable pull to a a foreign land (roaming).
If you’re really insteresting in what the four status lights mean, I’m sure you can find out elsewhere.
Thumb the wifi button for two seconds, then the Saturn button (only my name for it, as it has a little picture of a ringed planet on it) for two seconds and if all is well you’ll be able to connect to the internet through the thing.
Assuming all it well, that is. Sometimes it isn’t. Even though i’m a bit of a 3 fanboy (nine phones and two modems over the years), I still have issues with them. Firstly 3 is a crap name for a company, Whampoa would have sounded cooler; and secondly the coverage where I currently live is ropey at times.
The darker shade represents indoor/outdoor coverage, whilst the lighter shade shows outdoor coverage only. The pointer shows where I live. Not shown is a 3g modem gaffa taped to my window in order to get a good signal.
Besides the device itself, the box contains a short USB lead and a charger. The charger is, obviously, for charging the thing, and the USB cable is for three things.
- using it as a storage device if a microSD card (not supplied) is inserted into it
- using it as a USB modem
- using the configuration program.
The configuation program (which installs straight from the device itself – nice) allows you to do all the usual wifi router based things: DHCP config, port forwarding, changing the SSID to something rude, changing the password to something you’ll actually remember.
Connecting to the thing is easy with any most wifi devices. So far I’ve managed to get two laptops (WinXP and Linux), the Ubisurfer and a borrowed iPod Touch running concurrently. I know the iPhone works ok (slightly faster that the phone’s built in 3g modem), and I’m sure the iPad will work. (Does anyone want to lend me one to test?)
Sadly, I could not get a laptop running Hexxeh’s Flow build of Chromium OS. But I put this down to Flow failing to recognised the Dell’s WiFi hardware.
Its a great little device. Go and buy one now. £49 from Three on their PAYG plan.
So, all that remains for me to do now are the customary speed test, using www.speedtest.net, as ever.
Firstly using the old E220 USB Modem:
And now using the E5830 Mifi:
I clearly have a winner here, but your mileage may vary.
Finally, here are the frankly deplorable results taken recently from my sister’s Orange Home Broadband link recently: