About a week ago we heard that 3 and T-Mobile would be selling mobile Wi-Fi on monthly contracts and pay as you go. Mobile Wi-Fi is pretty much what it says on the tin - a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that allows you to set up a mini wireless network wherever there's a mobile signal. T-Mobile's mobile Wi-Fi offering is powered by a Novatel Wireless 2352 intelligent mobile hotspot device. We decided to test it out to see what's in store for customers when this gets released in October.
The 2352 is light and compact, taking up no more pocket real estate than your average wallet. It has a Wi-Fi radius range of 10 meters and the battery lasts for around 4 hours -- enough time to get some real work done. As it's practically weightless, you could simply stow this in your bag or coat pocket and be able to walk around with your phone hooked up to a Wi-Fi connection.
As the 2352 acts as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot you can use it to access Wi-Fi services that otherwise may not work on your mobile phone via 3G, such as Skype calls. It also means that you can use these services virtually anywhere there's a 3G signal -- you're no longer relegated to static Wi-Fi points or Starbucks.
Perhaps the best thing about the Novatel 2352 is the microSD slot. Up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to the 2352 at once, and share files by uploading them to the card slot. Once uploaded to the memory card, other users with access to the hotspot can download files -- great if you've been working on some tracks on Ableton or Reason and want to show off to your friends what you've been up to.
We tested the Novatell 2352 with a Nokia E71, a Toshiba TG01, and an iPhone 3G. All four phones easily connected to the net simultaneously via the 2352 with no noticeable slowdown. We managed to upload and download JPEGs, GIFs and MP3s with the E71 and TG01, but it's worth noting that while the iPhone could download pictures (GIFs and JPEGs) and store them in the gallery, MP3 files couldn't be downloaded and stored in the iTunes library. Also, when you log in to the Novatel wireless 2352's manager through the iPhone's web browser, the 'Browse' tab which you'd click on to upload stuff is greyed out so you can't click on it.
The Novatel Wireless 2352 is set to come bundled free with T-Mobile Mobile Wi-Fi 18 month contracts for £20 a month.