I have been thinking about getting a portable mobile hotspot for a while. There are two basic reasons I have been looking for one. The first is I occasionally have coffee at a local Starbuck kiosk in a Kroger near me and it does not have any Wi-Fi service. At those coffee shops that do have Wi-Fi service it is often slow or the service just stops working altogether for no apparent reason. The second reason is because of security. I have listen to enough Security Now and read enough about using public wi-fi to know it is not the most secure environment. Before you say it, I know I could simply use my phone as a hotspot and tether my device to it. I have done that before, but it quickly killed the phone’s battery and to be honest I rather have a device that is specifically made for this purpose.
There were a couple of things that I was looking for in the device itself, first obviously it needed to work in my area of West Virginia. This automatically removed any Tmobile devices or services such as FreedomPop neither which work in my area. The second thing I was looking for was something that didn’t require a contract. I am already dealing with enough contracts and didn’t want to deal with another two-year contract. I wanted something that I would pay for on a weekly or monthly basis.
I ended up picking up the Verizon Novatel Jetpack Mifi 5510.With the Verizon Novatel Jetpack MiFi you can buy plans by the week or by the month. A single week plan cost $15 for 250MB, 3GB for $60.00 a month and 10GB for $90.00 a month. The first thing you have to do is activate your device, which requires you to type in a 20 character number which is printed on the back of the sim card, which is the size of my thumb nail in light blue ink. The first time I called the numbers especially all the zeroes ran together so I ended up hanging up, writing the number down and then calling back. After that the activation went fine. When you do the activation make sure you have a way to write down the number they give you.
The Jetpack 5510e is rectangular in shape with rounded corner. It is made of hard plastic. Some people complain that it feels cheap. Personally I think it feels fine, but I don’t have anything else that I can compare it to. The back is easy to open and the battery is replaceable. Unlike some portable wi-fi devices the Jetpack Mifi 5510 has no microSD slot or external antenna port. There is an LED screen on the front and on the home screen you can see the battery life, notifications, signal strength and number of devices connected. You can also change screens to see the Wi-Fi name and password, software updates and more importantly data usage. You can change screens and make selections using the function keys on the device. These function keys can be a little finicky but not too bad once you get use to it. Once I activated and register my device I was able to connect and my iPad mini with no problem. I used it for about 30 minutes to test it and it was great.
There are a some problems with the Jet Pack 5510. First it is an US only device, so if you need something for overseas travel this is not the device for you. Second like I said before some people think that it feels cheap and the function keys are finicky. I read some of the comments on the Verizon site and some people were trying to use this as a replacement for their home or office network, that is not what this device is for , first it would be way too expensive and second it is not built to run 24/7. After using it twice now this week I have to say I am overall happy I purchased it and went without a contract.