A few weeks ago I ordered the Verizon MiFi—a wireless hotspot that allows 5 users to connect to it—for my iPad and other computers.
I decided to go this route, rather than buying the 3G iPad since I expected that I’d be using my iPad (and my laptop) in 2 situations where I wouldn’t have wifi access: 1) while traveling and at conferences and 2) in parts of my house and other locations where the wireless signal is unavailable.
Regarding traveling and conferences, I’ve noticed at conferences, many of which seem to be held larger metro areas in basements of large hotel chains like the Hilton, that iPhone users like myself have difficulty getting a signal while Blackberry users have no problem getting a Verizon signal. This is likely due to AT&T’s notorious problem of having network issues in larger cities. In larger metropolitan areas, I frequently experience weak signals and dropped calls, while in my hometown, Rochester, NY, that rarely happens. Accordingly, this is an issue that I only experience with my iPhone when traveling and access to Verizon’s network would solve this problem.
A 3G iPad wouldn’t work since I’d be still be stuck with AT&T’s wireless network, Sprint’s network is not nearly as reliable as Verizon’s, and jail breaking wasn’t something I wanted to do at this point—and I’d still be stuck with AT&T’s network, in any event.
So, when I learned that the Verizon MiFi was just 1 cent at Amazon with a 2 year contract (vs. the normal online price of ~$60) I jumped at the chance to buy it.
It was delivered quickly and was much smaller than I’d expected. I did, however, encounter some issues activating it. I was able to install the activation software on my Macbook, but when I attempted to connect the MiFi to the Internet to activate it, I was unsuccessful and kept encountering the same error message.
After doing some online research, I noticed that a lot of people using Macbooks, Macbook Pros and Macbook Airs had similar issues. So, I decided to use my iMac instead, and it activated without a hitch. Once activated, there’s no need to use the computer again, since you can simply access it using its wifi signal.
Now that’s it’s activated, it works great. My only tip is to make sure that both the power light and the wireless signal light are both illuminated when activating it and when trying to use it once activated. The manual isn’t very clear on the locations of both lights (or that two different lights exist), and for a while, I was trying to activate it when it was powered up, but wasn’t emitting a wireless signal.
If you’re considering buying an iPad and are on the fence as to whether to buy the 3G, you may want to consider foregoing that option and getting the Verizon MiFi hotspot–especially if you travel and have other devices for which you’ll occasionally need wireless access.