A recent trip to Atlanta to visit family for the holidays was the first major test for my new VirginMobile MiFi device. We were visiting my wife’s mother and she had no Internet connection in the house. So for six days, two families with kids (young teens no less) all equipped with Internet capable devices put the MiFi through it’s paces. The most frequent users we’re laptops (both MAC and PC), iPhones, iPod Touches, and my iPad.
There was no noticeable difference between connecting any of the these devices. The Mifi itself is the size of a 1/4 inch thick credit card. You simply power it up and in roughly 10-15 seconds a wifi signal can be seen on the device you are trying to connect. As advertised, the is a 5 device limit for access. The only issues we discovered all week seemed to be related to exceeding this limit. When 5 devices are already connected, trying to log in a new one results in a “connection timed out” error. As soon as one device was turned off or disconnected, another was able to connect without issue. This did bring up one issue. Once you sign an iPod or iPhone the connection stays active. A number of times we had to ask the kids to turn their wifi connection off on their iPods to make room for adults using laptops.
The other issue that came up involved the downloading of apps. Armed with new iTunes gift cards received as Christmas gifts, the kids started the downloading frenzy. I was immediately thankful for Virgin Mobile’s unlimited data use plan. For $40, you purchase 30 days of unlimited data without a contract. I haven’t checked the actual data use yet, but I am confident that we got out money’s worth out of this month’s fee. It should be noted also, that iPods and iPhones balk at downloading any app over 20MB in size unless you are connected to a wifi signal. Since the MiFi creates a wifi spot through the Sprint 3G network, these large apps did not want to download to these devices and large downloads even from laptops didn’t work well.
All in all I was very impressed with the MiFi 2200′s performance. We left it available almost 24 hours a day during the week. By leaving it plugged into AC power we never had battery issues. It works great at both airports during our waits to board planes and I and happy that I don’t have any ongoing monthly costs.
If you are looking for a mobile wifi hot spot, the VirginMobile MiFi 2200 should get a serious look. I LOVE IT!