HSPA MiFi Appears Unboxed: Sounds Too Complicated

Image courtesy Slashgear
Image courtesy Slashgear

I still think the Verizon MiFi is the most impressive mobile device I have used, even after weeks of use. It never fails to make an impression on me when I pull it out and with one button, connect to the 3G network and use it on one or more devices. The Verizon (s vz) model that I have was first followed closely by the Sprint (s s) model that is now available and their customers are getting exposed to the magic that is MiFi. Novatel (s nvtl), maker of the MiFi, made it clear that HSPA networks would get the love, too, and the first version of the device for those networks has appeared. But it’s picked up some extra features that I’m not convinced I appreciate.

It may just be the pictures but this model of the MiFi looks a bit bigger than the one I have. Mine couldn’t be thinner or smaller and this new model looks pudgier. If it is, it’s probably due to a couple of new features that Novatel has included in this version. They have included a microSDHC slot to allow files to be shared by devices accessing the Wi-Fi hotspot. That could be a useful feature and I have no problem with it being included as long as it’s not responsible for making the gadget bigger than the models without the drive.

The feature that I am questioning is the inclusion of a Linux-based application server that hosts apps for serving to devices connected via Wi-Fi. This allows for carriers to put their apps on the device for customer use. This sounds OK on the surface, but it has obviously added an unnecessary layer of complexity to the device. One of the biggest strengths I see of the MiFi in my use is the simplicity — push a button and get busy. This app server could add a whole new layer of unnecessary complexity. What if the device hangs up while being used? It will happen at some point; you know it will.

Overall this is another fine model in a great product line for Novatel. It means they can cover just about every 3G network globally and that’s a great thing. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep getting added features that are not really needed.