Top 3 Mobile Hotspots for Wireless Travelers

Posted by: T. Lacoma on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Mobile hotspots offer a simple but effective service: They tap into cell data networks to produce a small Wi-Fi zone wherever you are; allowing multiple devices to jump online as long as you have 3G or 4G coverage. They can be a godsend to business travelers and international journeyers who need immediate Internet access. If you like the idea of a hotspot, here are three strong options for you to pick up for your next trip.

Please note: Wireless speeds, especially in hotspots, tend to vary considerably. This is why few reviews or official descriptions offer details of upload or download speeds.

1. Verizon JetPack: The latest 5510L model of the Verizon Jetpack offers 4G wireless speeds, hosting for up to 10 different Wi-Fi devices at once (down to five in non-4G areas), and a handy on-device screen that shows you information on the connections. It also comes with around eight hours of battery life…but has a hefty $200 price tag if you do not want to enter a contract plan.

The other Jetpacks are also notable. The 4620LE, for example, is an excellent device for global travelers, since it comes with GSM capabilities that offer data services for more than 200 countries and full 3G services for more than 160 countries.

2. FreedomPop Photon: FreedomPop alone is a unique service, with its beta business model offering free 4G wireless Internet through WiMax and LTE channels. When combined with the hotspot Photon device, FreedomPop becomes a formidable option for those who need mobile Internet. The FreedomPop website explains the offering in more detail.

There are a couple caveats to the Photon plan. First, it’s not for international travelers. If you want to use your hotspot outside of Canada or the U.S., choose other mobile hotspots, such as a JetPack or an XCom MiFi device. Second, the “free” part of the plan only applies to the first 500 MB that you use per month. The Photon is designed to last for around six hours of use and can handle up to eight devices at the same time. It requires a $90 deposit.

3. T-Mobile Sonic: The T-Mobile Sonic devices offer 4G hotspots for multiple devices and is a very strong general hotspot solution no matter what your needs might be. For example, it can be used as a tethered modem for a particular device, it can process extra images or information with its SD card port, and it can last for around four hours of continuous use.

T-Mobile recently announced the release of the Sonic 2.0, a $30 upgraded device (with a $5 per month two-year plan) that offers a few new features. While the old version could only support up to five different devices, the new version allows up to eight devices. Battery life is upgraded to up to seven hours “talk time,” and a small LCD screen has been added for more direct control.

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