MiFi 2352 (European) Round-up Review

Posted on 23 June 2009 by

mifi1 I could easily round-up the coverage of the European-focused MiFi 2352 by saying ‘buy one’ but that would be too easy. There ARE some things you need to think about before you take the plunge and buy one so here’s my final tests and thoughts on the MiFi 2352 personal 3G hotspot for European GSM and UMTS networks.

Announcement: JKKMobile and UMPCPortal will be available on the live page tomorrow (Wednesday 24th June) at 2100 CEST (Berlin) demonstrating the Mifi 2352 and answering questions.

Update: Live session videos are available now.

Also read:

Size

The device is easily pocketable, bag-able and even window-shelf-able. The Wifi range lets you put the device wherever it’s needed for the best 3G reception. Size-wise, you need not give it a second thought. Build quality is good although you might want to keep it in a little bag to avoid the ports getting dirty.

IMG_9766 IMG_9764 IMG_9757

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More images in the Mifi Gallery.

Software

The software comes in three parts. The 3G software, the router and the web server. Each has it’s own little software stack and everything appears to work very smoothly together. Starting the device up is simple. Configuring the device is simple. Using it with multiple SIM cards is simple and sharing files from an SD card is simple. The file sharing function is limited to simple web-based downloads and uploads but we get the feeling that 3rd-party software, hacks or even official firmware upgrades could enhance this. At this point I’d like to point you to Slashgear who have also tested the Mifi 2352 and have a good set of images of the user interface.

Wifi sharing without 3G

This is the easiest way I’ve found yet to enable keyboard sharing between multiple devices. Of course, one of the devices needs to have an internet connection (or use the 3G on the MiFi) if you need internet access but it’s a great way to set up a mini network in the home, car or while on holiday.

Battery life

I hooked up my desktop, a UMPC, a netbook and my N82 mobile phone to the MiFi and hit it hard with continuous music streaming, two IM clients and my normal web-based working process which included browsing and a big set of image uploads. The result, a warm MiFi that lasted 3.5 hours. I’m quite impressed. In normal use I would expect 4hrs out of the device and as there’s a few easy ways to recharge the device (and the possibility of cheap spare batteries – I feel sure that Novatel are using a pattern battery that you’ll find in another device) I have no problem with the battery life. And another thing, I barely noticed any difference on my desktop. At HSPA speeds and with normal activities, the Mifi is as good as a cable internet connection.

Heat

As mentioned, the device gets warm but nothing you need to worry about. The Wifi has a good range (one concrete wall or about 20-30m in the open) which means you don’t need the device too close to the clients.

Speedtests

See my previous post. I don’t see the Mifi being the fastest but it’s stable and has excellent reception. A stable, lower speed connection is often far more useful than a spotty high-speed one. HSPA is supported and we’ve seen 2.1mbps download and 1.2mbps uploads.

mifi_download_speeds mifi_upload_speeds

Price

If you’ve got a USB 3G stick and one computing device, you’ve got a tough choice today. 220 Euros is the same cost as an iPod Touch and you won’t be increasing your mobile internet capability by much at all. It certainly doesnt take much effort to plug a 3G USB modem in! If you’ve got multiple Wifi devices though, the MiFi starts to get interesting. You will be able to enable your own personal wifi hotspot and thus mobilise your wifi devices. The Mifi will save battery life (close-range wifi is often more efficient than a USB modem), and increase your security by giving you a private channel to the internet. If you’ve already got 3G devices, the MiFi can save you money and give you flexibility. In Germany and many other European countries, pay-as-you-go flat rate daily or monthly tariffs are common and by choosing one and sharing it between your devices, you can control your costs.

Issues

  • I would have liked to have seen the possibility to attach an external antenna to the MiFi for edge-of-cell use or even a permanent installation as a broadband modem.
  • Charging in use. By connecting the USB cable to a PC, you initiate the USB modem mode of the Wifi. To charge the MiFi while in mobile hotspot mode you need to either plug the device into mains via the supplied adaptor, use a power-bank with a USB output or make a cable modification. It would be nice to be able to disable the USB modem mode through software.
  • There is a surprising amount of heat generated considering the device is only using 1.5w of power under maximum load. This may be a consideration if you want to keep this in a pocket.
  • Indicators. I find the indicators confusing. There are no fewer than 14 combinations of colours and steady/flashing status indicators. It’s worth learning the combinations but it shouldn’t be this hard cnsidering the space available on the device.
  • Popularity is going to become an issue. Sharing a single connection with multiple devices means more devices per cell which effectively means more data on the same number of connections. Backhaul bandwidth (from the cell tower to the data center) is already an issue and major bottleneck. If the Mifi becomes popular for Wifi device owners (iPods, PMPs etc) then expect more congestion. This is another reason to be using pay-as-you-go services so that you can hop onto the best service providers network at very little cost.

Future products

Expect Huawei to come out with a competing device soon and expect to see these devices popping up all over the place on the city high-street. Also expect carriers to be offering the devices for free with contract lock-ins or even to enable ring-fenced TV or music services so yes, if you wait, you might find a good deal with your favorite provider but 24 months is a long time in mobile internet. 24 months ago, the prices were double and the bandwidths half of what they are today. In my opinion it’s better to buy a MiFi without commitment now and start enjoying the benefit.

Summary.

The Mifi is a groundbreaking product for anyone interested in mobile internet and there are very few issues to consider. It has the potential to save you money, increase your security and turn hotspot-bound device into mobile ones. It’s a shame that the battery life doesn’t last a full days activities but this is about as good as it gets from today’s technology. If you’ haven’t just bought a 3G USB stick, take a close look at the MiFi, the extra cost might save you money in the long run and simplify your mobile internet life.

We bought the Mifi from Mobilx.EU in Hungary who are an affiliate of ours and also pay for advertising on UMPCPortal. There are no affiliate links in this article and the article has been written without any external review or influence. We encourage you to visit the links shown at the top of this article for reviews and information from other websites and to view the live, recorded review and Q&A session. [Details here after 24th June]

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  • MiFi 2352 (European) Round-up Review. Also announcing live Q&A session for 24th July, 2100 CST. http://cli.gs/7WXee

  • MiFi 2352 (European) Round-up Review http://kl.am/VNo

  • Charbax

    220€ does sound a bit expensive. That should be the price of a whole HSDPA enabled Android device.. I don’t really know why any smartphone or any other device that has both HSDPA and WiFi, why they cannot be used to create real WiFi hotspots. For example, last I checked, the Nokia N95 only creates a WiFi hotspot that is only Ad-Hoc and not in normal WiFi infrastructure mode. I don’t know if that’s just a question of it getting some better HSDPA2WiFi bridging software or if it’s because regular WiFi antennas in smartphones can only re-broadcast Ad-Hoc WiFi from HSDPA to other devices.

    • Charbax, try sharing 3G with wifi on phones.. result: flat battery in 1 to 2 hours, so no calls after that… ( same goes with bt on heavy use but it’s much slower. ) My phones are for calls and sms.

      .. there are operators selling free or cheap 2nd and 3rd SIM cards ( called dual sim ).. I pay 2 euros for second SIM.

  • Charbax

    Also, I do think that HSDPA carriers should eventually provide extra SIM cards for free or for very cheap prices. A HSDPA SIM card costs something like 0.05€ to produce, so it doesn’t make much sense for some clever carriers to start allowing users to use more than one HSDPA SIM card per customers HSDPA subscription. There are ways a carrier can make sure that the subsequent SIM cards are most likely only used by the same user:

    – It could make sure all SIM cards only are used close to each other if used at the same time.

    – Data bandwidth limits would be shared by all the SIM cards. For example if you have a 10GB per month bandwidth limit on HSDPA, and 3 HSDPA sim cards, then they all share that limit.

    – The carrier could perhaps decide only to activate one SIM card at the time, automatically. Though probably not a good idea.

    – If the carrier detects that there might be some abuse going on, for example 2 SIM cards are used at the same time on the same account at two very separate places in the city, then the carrier can send a warning to the customer and eventually disable one of the SIM cards or ban the user from even being a customer (carriers probably would rather warn and ask the user to purchase a second HSDPA account because it detects a probable different person using the other card).

    Eventually, I’d like HSDPA in my $150 Archos Android device, in my $150 Android laptop and in my $100 Android in-car GPS device. Maybe also in a $50 USB HSDPA modem to use on another laptop. I’m pretty sure that eventually some HSDPA providers will provide 3 or 4 HSDPA sim cards on the same 20€ per month HSDPA subscription. Eventually charge 1€ or 2€ extra per extra SIM card thus per extra device. And make you sign some kind of agreement that “You hereby promise to use all the other SIM cards on other HSDPA devices only for your own personal use”.

    • Vakeros

      Until then, the question is to pay the one or pay for each device.
      As I wll use it as a server I think this is the device for me.

  • LeeN

    In some specs I’ve read, they mentioned something about standby time. I’m trying to understand what that means for a wifi router, do you happen to know what that means?

  • LeeN

    I wish Cradlepoint would update the PHS300 with better battery life and/or a smaller form factor.

  • MiFi este produsul anului 2009 in lumea IT, impreuna cu un iPod Touch este perfect, nr 1 pe lista mea de achizitii http://tinyurl.com/nknx22

  • MiFi 2352 (European) Round-up Review | UMPCPortal – The Mobile …: … look at the MiFi, the extra cost might s.. http://bit.ly/qPDec

  • jpmatrix

    Leen,
    i think “standby time” is equal to “powered off time”. the MiFi has a setting to go to standby (powered off) after x minutes of inactivity (i set mine to 5mn). so after that delay it just shuts down. and you have to press the power on button to wake it up.

    at first i thought it could automatically wake up from wifi activity but apparently not

    jkk, chippy,
    correct me if i’m wrong.

    • LeeN

      Thanks!
      That is rather disappointing, I guess maybe that is faster then fully turning the unit off like the PHS300 does. The slow down for the PHS300 is having to connect to 3g, I think wifi reconnecting can also take some time. Maybe the standby mode remains connected to 3g, sort of the way I’d imagine a cell phone does.

  • jpmatrix

    all questions should be answered in the live show tonight ! unhopefully i won’t be able to watch it….

    by the way, about the heat, i think it is common to all hsdpa devices: i have a hsdpa usb dongle from Option and it becomes very hot too whilst using it…

    should we add a fan ? :)))

  • tam123

    just got this thing yesterday and its amazing,picked up 3g straight away,something my integrated pci cards find hard to do,works great out the box on t-mobile,i managed to charge it in my car whilst in use,great signal,if you take the label of the back it looks like there is 3 extra external antenna connections,i agree with chippy,this is shaping up to be the gadget of the year,if the price came down then its a must have for everyone,found a good case for it as well,my wifes old blackberry bold leather case is a perfect fit.

  • borax99 (Alain C.)

    Received mine today. Connected *only* through GPRS/EDGE, can’t yet figure out how to get HSDPA out of it, which is a royal pain. My carrier (Rogers/Canad) won’t have a clue either, the device is too new. Does anyone have any ideas? Works fine when I stick the SIM card into the Ovation USB MC950D, but in the MiFi all I’m ever getting is a dead slow connection….

  • jpmatrix

    how do you know you are on GPRS/EDGE ? the led or the web interface ?

    by the way i have put a microSD 2Gb Kingston in mine and it is not recognized….do the microsd have a special filesystem format?

  • borax99 (Alain C.)

    When I look at Internet Status it tells me I am connected via EDGE. Chippy’s video shows a purple LED and Status tells him he is on HSD/U PA, etc. FYI I ran a bandwidth test and download is running at 0.14 mpbs – that’s a far cry from 3G !

  • Tai Pang

    It seems that the MIFI cannot handle a microSD in FAT 32 format. It just freezes up and I need to remove the battery. The same happens if I try to open a folder contains many files.

  • jpmatrix

    i could read a 2 GB microSD kingston card after reformatting it… and it was Fat32…
    BUT like you, the mifi froze while transferring a big file (77MB)….
    i’ve to check further…

    is there a novatel support where we could report any bugs? ;)

    • kms

      I have tried download files from the micro sd, at 230 mb, without any problem, you can try to udgrade the f/w, the newest one is 5.12.

      I only get about 2.5 hrs with continue of use downloading with p2p, is this normal with data transfer of 170-600kbps.

  • Novatel Wireless MiFi 2352 from the official distributor.

    No contract, no SIM lock, can be used with any 3G/HSPA network/operator around the world. Feel the real freedom with this revolutionary device.

    Available in black and white with free worldwide shipping: http://store.mpxsys.com/novatel-wireless-mifi-2352.html

  • The Blackberry is the best gadget that i ever received as a gift from my best friend. It has nice features and the design looks very cool too.

  • good points here I’m sure I’m not the only person to think this way.

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