With smartphones and mobile data connectivity so ubiquitous nowadays, many of us find ourselves online and connected to the Internet all the time. When in your home country, you can depend on data plans from your mobile carrier. When travelling overseas, many of us turn to prepaid data plans. But what if you want Internet access for multiple devices, such as your phone, tablet and notebook computer?
The neatest solution right now is to use a Mobile Wi-Fi router, also known as a MiFi router. Keep the MiFi router with you, and all your other mobile gadgets get Wi-Fi internet access through it.
There aren’t a plentiful variety of MiFi routers available in Singapore, at least not anywhere like it is with broadband routers. While there are a few brands available overseas, Huawei MiFi routers seem to be the most commonly available one sold in Singapore.
I’ll be reviewing the Huawei E586 MiFi router here. This is a really small pocket router that’s smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s sort of like an oversized dongle. It’s plastic, black on the front, silver on the sides and back, and has quite rounded corners. On the front, there is a useful OLED display. There is a power button and a WPS button on the left side. The micro-USB port is at the bottom, and the microSD slot is on the left.
This MiFi router gets its Internet access via 3G (HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS) and 2G (EDGE/GPRS/GSM) uplink. It supports download speeds of up to 21.6Mbps (HSPA+) and upload speeds of up to 5.76Mbps (HSUPA). On the Wi-Fi side, the E586 supports 802.11b/g/n. It accepts a normal SIM card (not micro-SIM nor nano-SIM).
The easiest way to connect to this device is via WPS. This works with Android smartphones, though sadly it’s not supported in iOS. With WPS push-button method, you just select the SSID on the Android smartphone, press the WPS button on the MiFi router, and then let Android do the setup automatically.
This is a simple router. Don’t expect to compare it with your broadband router. There isn’t much to configure in terms of firewall, application port forwarding, QoS, etc. What there is to configure is your 3G mobile network settings.
That’s not to say you have to configure your 3G mobile network settings manually. Setup can be fully automatic. But if your 3G provider somehow makes things complicated, like requiring you to manually configure an APN, there’s the option there for you to do that in the E586.
If you purchased a mobile data plan that has a traffic cap, you are going to love one very important feature of this MiFi router. The E586 displays the cumulative byte count on the OLED screen. It remembers the byte count across shutdowns and reboots. This is very convenient for you to monitor how much more data you have left on your plan. You can always reset the counter if you need to.
- Small and lightweight
- Easy to setup
- Not terribly reliable, may require some reboots
- A little pricey
Depending on your use case, the Huawei E586 MiFi router could be terribly convenient and a great saver on your overseas mobile data usage.