Novatel is marching ever onward with the MiFi line of 3G W-Fi routers. The Verizon MiFi I’m using is still my gadget of the year, and we’re already in October. When Novatel first announced the HSPA version of the MiFi, I questioned the logic of adding features to a gadget that I felt had the benefit of being a simple-minded device. Today, Novatel has announced an agreement with Eye-Fi for applications preloaded on every MiFi except those on Verizon and Sprint. I must confess I’m still unsure if this application business is something that’s really needed.
The MiFi models 2352 and 2372 have an integrated application server that adds the ability to run programs, in addition to the MiFi core function of serving as a 3G router over Wi-Fi. Applications can be preloaded that add functionality to the MiFi to augment the usefulness of the gadget. The agreement announced today describes Eye-Fi software that will allow MiFi owners to upload photos to the MiFi from a camera, even when 3G isn’t available. Uploading to online services is then done automatically when connectivity is possible.
This is a limited scenario, and while those who need to free up space on a camera will appreciate this ability, it sort of duplicates the ability of the Eye-Fi itself. The Eye-Fi is an SD card with Wi-Fi ability integrated, allowing for cameras to tap right into Wi-Fi hotspots. As long as 3G connectivity is present, the MiFi taps into that network and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot. So if 3G is present, the camera with an Eye-Fi installed can connect directly to the web through the MiFi. Confused? It does add functionality to the Eye-Fi user, just not much more than they already have.
Novatel is also announcing enterprise-type software that will be preloaded on these MiFis, such as VPN and anti-virus software. This might add more value for MiFi owners.