Those of you that have the MiFi 2352 or 2372 will know that the device contains more than just a 3G/Wifi router. There’s a GPS and an application processor inside. The application processor runs a basic web server that allows configuration and statistics. Unfortunately, the GPS has never been accessible and despite promises of new applications, they never materialised. MiFi OS looks likely to change that.
MiFi OS is a new set of firmware that includes a number of applications aimed at the corporate user. VPN, data tracking, location service, cloud storage and SMS handling applications are all included. We saw an application demonstration back in Feb (video below) although we suspect that things will look different on the finished product.
The new OS is being offered to carriers (who will want to authorise its use, run the assisted GPS servers and presumably, make sure it is locked to a premium data service) and according to other news, it will launch with Teir 1 wireless carriers in Q4.
If you’ve got a Novatel Mifi 2372 (Canada) or 2352 (Europe) model, you might want to read this.
Update: Readers have confirmed that the 2352 is affected. See comments below and check back here for feedback from Novatel. I am in direct contact.
Apparently there have been some battery swelling issues reported on the 2372 related to Bell which have caused the battery door to become jammed. In two cases, it appears that customers have punctured their batteries by using sharp objects to remove the cover.
Engadget have reported the story (in a rather sensationalist fashion considering that this is a safety issue) and we’ve had a call from Novatel themselves who took the time to detail the issue.
Two carriers in Canada have reported the issue and Bell have made the decision to disable their MiFi’s remotely. (There’s a remote-kill feature?) Novatel have kicked off a program of battery and battery door replacements through the two carriers and issued a product advisory.
Note that there is no product recall taking place.
What they fail to address is the 2352 which is the same device with European HSPA bands. Novatel confirmed to us that the 2352 is the same design so one assumes that the same battery supplier is used and that the same problem can occur. 2352 owners out there, please be careful. Don’t use sharp objects to open the battery cover and if you experience a swollen battery, please let Novatel know (and drop a comment here so that we can pass it on too.)
Clearly the GSMA have been looking for guidance on what to choose as a top mobile gadget at MWC, saw that we had awarded Mobile Accesory of the Year to Novatel’s MiFi and followed suit by giving their own little award for Best Connected Device (Non-handset)
Or maybe they checked it out and realised it was a damn fine bit of kit on their own.
Either way, Novatel just picked up another award for the MiFi from the GSMA
SAN DIEGO Feb. 22, 2010 Novatel Wireless (NASDAQ: NVTL), a leading
provider of wireless broadband solutions, is pleased to announce that its
MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot has won the GSMA Global Mobile Award for
Best Mobile Connected Device (non-handset). The GSMA Global Mobile Awards is
the mobile industry¹s leading annual award presentation that honors
excellence and innovation in the mobile communications industry worldwide.
Well done Novatel. Keep that Mifi-love flowing. Our wish-list is below:
10 hours battery life (Bigger battery version?)
USB charging without becoming a USB device
Easier to understand indicator lights. (After nearly a year, I still don’t understand them!)
Faster cold boot
Firmware upgrade for existing owners to enable GPS and applications support.
The MiFi 2352 (HSDPA version) saved our bacon quite a few times at MWC. It was the hotel WiFi, our live podcast feed and we used it countless times around the site and at events with a cheap, 35 Euro flat rate SIM card from Vodafone ES. I even used it for advertising. I set my SSID as ‘Chippy and Carrypad are here’ and people actually found me because of it too.
It goes without saying that we thoroughly recommend it and if you’re interested in the HSDPA version, it’s available through our friends at Mobilx for just 214 Euro inclusive of EU taxes. Trust us, it’s worth it! (Affiliate link.)
As promised at CES, Novatel are moving forward with their plans for the Mifi 3G personal mobile internet hotspot (that has been a life-saver for me at MWC) to include applications and software features. We spoke to the team at the Mifi booth at MWC a few days ago and got a nice demo of a GPS-enabled application. GPS is enabled in the next firmware but I’m getting the impression that it’s going to be a new model of the Mifi with slightly newer features which ‘might’ include, USB charging without becoming a device, better battery life and of course, the GPS. I’m hoping that the firmware comes to existing Mifi’s (or at least the ones with the application processor in them) to enable the GPS that’s already included in the unit.
In the video below, Gareth Davis talks about some of the things possible and demonstrates a nice GPS-enabled application served through the Mifi webserver itself.
We have also heard that the EyeFi (Wifi-enabled SD card) application is progressing and we’ll be sure to keep a close eye on it. Clearly a web-based navigation service would be possible and there’s a ton of things that can be done with social networking. Can anyone think of other interesting apps that could be created on this platform?(Apart from the obvious ‘free wifi’ password-inspection app that would be sure to pick up some interesting information if you left it for a few hours in a press conference!)
Mobile World Congress is going to call for a significant refinement of my ultra mobile reporting kit (see below for previous versions) which means leaving the netbook in the hotel safe and traveling as light as possible. I aim to be roaming with only a man-bag and with about 1KG/2.2lb of equipment which is quite a challenge. Quality and speed of reporting during the day may suffer but I’m prepared to take the hit in order to be mobile and quick. Here’s a detailed look at my MWC setup as it stands just a few days from travelling.
The initial kit list looks something like this:
Hardware (825gm / 1.8lb)
UMID BZ as PC and USB power source. Including mains charger cable.
Nokia N82 as camera and backup 3G tether. Including spare battery.
Here’s how I would use the kit to post images and videos with text.
Yup, problems occur but in previous and recent tests it looks like it will take about 5 minutes to do a 2-paragraph blog post around a photo. Video really depends on Internet bandwidth but with the mobile reporting kit I can close the lid of the UMID and leave it to continue posting to YouTube. You have to be careful of time-outs in this case because re-starting the uploads usually requires a full upload again. Here’s the image I took during the video. As you can see, quality is excellent (click to enlarge.)
Photo camera: Around $300 but get one with BT and Xenon flash.
Improvements and optimisations.
Could a Motorola Droid/Milestone do all this? Yes. Photo’s to Flickr and editing and re-posting from Flickr is easily possible. Video also possible. Live video using QIK also possible. Text entry with Droid keyboard also possible. Cost: Around $500 including an extra battery (or two!) It’s a great single-device option and way, way lighter than what I’ll be carrying.
The issue with using a Droid is that you don’t have a PC with you for ‘everything else.’ That includes basic video editing, 100% full web access, USB accessories support (printing, usb sticks, usb cam for example) high quality audio recording using USB mic/audacity, audio/video streaming using UStream, connectivity to LCD screen and full size keyboard and use of all the normal desktop client software such as Firefox, Tweetdeck, Paint Shop, LiveWriter, Skype and anything else that a PC would be flexible for. It’s basically a trade-off. Using the UMID is way more expensive but it gives that flexibility to use to a full desktop tool-set if required and that, to me, is worth it’s weight in gold. If either the N82 or UMID die, I’m left with one working device which is a nice backup strategy.
The N82 video quality (test video here) could be improved a lot. I’d love to see a photo camera with high-compression, 720p video recording and checking across the range of smartphones available today, the Omnia i8910 would make a better choice for video with it’s 720p capability. File sizes could be a problem though so HQ VGA at about 2mbps H.264 would be perfect. Anyone out there done extensive phone-cam testing?
Battery life is an issue and will require careful management. Fortunately the UMID BZ is proving excellent in that respect and just by closing the lid I can make it go into standby or hibernation. Returning for these standby modes is 5 and 20 seconds respectively. The UMID is returngin a regular 4.5-5hr in-use battery life. Despite that, I’ll carry a mains charger with me because I may have to charge the Mifi or the N82. Both can be charged via USB which is a huge bonus. The Mifi can even be used while it charges.
Update: In a 34 minute test I saw 17% battery drain indicating 200 minutes of battery life. About 3 hours! (Device closed with screen/touchscreen off)
Embedded 3G in the UMID. Yes, this would be great. No question. There’s no need for a Mifi if you’re only using one 3G-capable device but even in that scenario, i’d probably have the Mifi with me as a backup. The antenna on it is superb and it comes in really handy for a table of five net-less bloggers!
Your suggestions welcome.
Please feed-back in the comment section below. I love to hear how people are using their mobile kit. Are you mobile blogging at MWC? If so, lets meet and have a chat about the kit on video.
I’ll post a follow-up after MWC.
Previous versions of the ultra mobile reporting kit.
I’ve been extremely happy with the Mifi 2352 (and the Sprint version I used at CES) We voted it mobile gadget of the year and have previously highlighted it for ease of use and its ability to improve security over open hotspots. Unfortunately we’re going to have to retract the latter statement because of a serious security issue based around multiple vulnerabilities. The latest update highlights the ultimate danger.
1-16-2010: @aramosf posted to twitter that the MiFi’s config can be directly accessed without authentication. If you combine his attack with the above attacks it turns out that an attacker can download the entire device configuration, including clear text credentials!
The hack has been proven on the Verizon version of the Mifi but we’d recommend caution for all Mifi users. Keep your Mifi out of view when in use and hide the SSD if possible.
Combined with further software installed on the application processor version of the MiFi, the 2352, it’s not difficult to imagine a situation where the MiFi is turned into a traffic logger.
We’ve contacted Novatel for a statement and will update you here on the latest.
Latest from Novatel:
MiFi has CGI parameters that are intentionally programmable so that developers can read or change MiFi settings and build browser based widgets. Most of these are openly published by Novatel. There are other CGI settings not published for MiFi that are accessible only when a user surfs to a malicious web site and stays connected to that site. The nature of the threat is better characterized by the ability of the hacker to change MiFi settings, only when connected to the malicious site, and does not provide access to the user’s personal data. The exception to this is location data such as GPS. In this instance, the user location data is visible only when the user is connected to the malicious site and GPS is activated. No malware remains on MiFi when the user disconnects from the malicious site. Any data received or sent through MiFi is secure. Novatel will provide a patch going forward.
2009 was, again, a tough year for designing, building and selling UMPCs. Windows Vista continued to drag down performance and the economic situation meant that many UMPCs didn’t reach the market. Despite that, the advances we’ve seen in 2009 have been some of the best ever. Performance was boosted with the availability of high-speed SSD drives. Battery life was improved through the use of the Intel Menlow platform and market pressure meant that the price/performance ratio took a huge step forward. In one of our videos this year I talked about ‘double the battery life, for half the price.’ That’s how far we’ve come since 2006 but into that equation go more features like GPS, 3G, haptic feedback, better designs, silent operation and lighter weight. Only last week, Fujitsu launched the UH900 which makes it, if our database serves us correctly, the first 5.6 inch ultra mobile PC to break the 500gm barrier. Amazing.
As soon as I’ve got the details ironed-out, I’m going to be giving away a Mifi 2352 courtesy of Mobilx.eu this week. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a tiny, palm-sized device that you put a SIM card in. You press the single button and it connects to 3G and provides a Wifi for up to 5 devices to use. Simple and great quality. Definitely my mobile device of the year. [More information here]
â€œmy point is, with the MiFi tucked inside my coat pocket, a device like the iPod Touch, iphone, Nokia E71 or even my UMA enabled Blackberry, I have more connectivity than I did a year ago. Add in more and more WiFi hot spots that are up and running, and I’m connected. Oh, and one more thing. When I don’t want to carry the MacBook Pro, I’ve got a 1.7 pound powerhouse in tow. It’s the 7 inch Viliv S7. inch
A good read from someone that looks to be getting the most out of the Mifi.
Vodafone Germany are the latest carrier to announce a 3G hotspot. It’s our favorite (and still product of the year in my opinion) the Novatel Mifi 2352. [My review roundup]
40 Euro per month for a 5GB HSDPA contract (GPRS flat after the 5GB limit is reached) gets you the device for free which in my opinion is a far better option than buying a netbook with a data contract. The Mifi gives you freedom to choose your devices based on where and what you are doing. If you want to take the iPod Touch to the coffee shop, go for it. If you need to attend an important meeting with your business laptop, you get that choice too.
For the ultimate in flexibility though I suggest taking the 231 Euro hit at Mobilx and look for pre-paid or flat offers from other 3G providers in your country. A 24 month contract with Alice in Germany for example brings you the same data rate and bandwidth limits for 15 Euro per month. Less than half the price that Vodafone is asking. I tend to use the Mifi with a day-flat tariff. At 2.50 Euro per day it leaves me contract free and able to switch to other pre-paid cards based on price or availability.
Expect this product to pop up at your local Vodafone provider soon.
I’ll be attending a mobile internet presentation hosted by Vodafone Germany this afternoon and although I will continue to microblog (they will appear in the middle column on the front page) I wanted to highlight a couple of points before I go.
Firstly, Pocketables have news that the Viliv S7 is nearing launch in Korea. There’s information on pricing and model details but these details will obviously change for models outside Korea. We’re trying to get more info from Viliv about this. I’m very excited about the S7 and wondering if it will beat the ASUS T91 to market! Check out the Pocketables article for more. What do you think of the pricing? I’m guessing that it will translate to a $650 entry point in the U.S.
JKK and I spent 3 hours with the Kohjinsha SK3 [details] and a bunch of other UMPCs last night. The live session was recorded and if you’ve got 2+hrs free, check out the videos. I will be doing a full review of the SK3 in the coming weeks.
The Vodafone event should be interesting this afternoon. I am taking a bunch of UMPCs and will be using the X70 + PC Navigator to find my way there. The MiFi 2352 will also be given a good work-out!
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.
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.
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.
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 â€“ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]