It’s always exciting when someone invents a new product category, and this one is a jaw-dropper, according to David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist.
To get online you need a cellular modem, but imagine if you could get online anywhere you liked – in a taxi, on the beach, in a hotel (with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi) – without messing around with cellular modems.
What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot that followed you everywhere you go?
Incredibly, according to Pogue, there is such a thing. It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200.
It’s a tiny little gadget, the thickness of three credit cards. It has one power button, one status light and a battery. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot.
The MiFi gets its Internet signal the same way those cellular modems do
In essence, the MiFi converts that cellular Internet signal into an umbrella of Wi-Fi coverage that up to five people can share.
Cellular wireless routers, as they’re called, have been available for years, according to Pogue. The average person hasn’t even heard of this product category, but these routers are popular on, for example, Hollywood movie shoots. On-location cast and crew can kill their downtime online, sharing the signal from a single cellular card that’s broadcast via Wi-Fi.
Those machines, however, get no cell signal on their own; you have to supply your own cellular modem. They’re also big and metal and ugly. But the real deal-killer is that they have to be plugged into a power outlet. You can’t use one at the beach or in the woods unless you have a really, really long extension cord.
The MiFi is remarkable for its tiny size, its sleek good looks, its 30-foot range (it easily filled a large airport gate area with four-bar signal) – and the fact that it’s cordless and rechargeable.
Telefónica of Spain showcased it at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.
In the US, Verizon Wireless has just started offering it.
Now, says Pogue, you can leave the MiFi in your pocket, purse or laptop bag; whenever you fire up your laptop, netbook, Wi-Fi camera or game gadget, or wake up your iPhone or iPod Touch, and you’re online.
No more messing around with cellular modems!