Okay, with one week of (intermittent) usage, here's some quick observations:
First the pluses:
- The unit is cool! By that I mean it doesn't get hot or warm in use. The two Sierra Wireless Overdrive Pro boxes I run on Sprint would literally cook the battery; sometimes I would have to shut down the hotspot, take out the battery and let the box cool down.
- Connection with the cell towers is solid. I only get two bars on the signal meter here at work but it's more than enough to get the 3+ Mpbs down and up transfer speeds outlined above. Haven't yet seen any signal drops.
- Battery life is pretty good. It ran for two whole days at work until I needed to recharge it. The Overdrive Pro units would only last a day.
- Checking my data allotment, I've blown through 7.3GB of my initial 10GB Data Stash in one week. When signing up, you get a free "stash" of 10GB of high speed data. When that is used up, you then start eating through your plan's allotment; in my case 3GB. Any amount of unused data for the month rolls over and is available for up to one year. If you exceed you plan's cap, then throttling begins. It's supposed to be from 64Kbps to 128Kbps. I might get to that point before the month is over so maybe I can run some speed checks then. Recently, T-Mobile got slapped on the wrist because they were hiding the true connection speeds when user's plans were throttled:
ref: http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/11 ... customers/
ref: http://www.businessinsider.com/t-mobile ... ds-2014-11
Some of the data transfers have occurred while at home but most of it has been at work. Vast amount has been due to the speed tests I've been running so this is not going to be a typical month.
- When first received, there were already 4 days gone from the current billing cycle. It seems like the clock started when the unit was activated at the factory.
- Only WPA2-PSK AES is supported as an encryption method (well, besides "None"). If you have any wireless cards that don't support this, tough. I knew this going in from reading some of the online reviews so while this wasn't unexpected, it could be a problem when using older WiFi cards that don't support this encryption standard.
- While the hotspot is capable of running in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi spectrums, it can't do it at the same time. You have to choose one or the other.
- When activating the unit, you are supposed to go online and establish an account. To do this, you need the phone number of the hotspot. It took some time to find it. It was not printed on any of the literature received with the unit. Not on the box, nor the paperwork inside, or with the SIM card. Instead, it was in a message
stored in the hotspot's Inbox. You access it via the unit's built-in admin web server (IP 192.168.43.1:8080). I suppose that if I had gone into a store or mall kiosk to set this up, they would have given me the number right away but this was an online order.
- Said web server is SLOW
. I saw this mentioned in a PC Magazine review but I didn't think it would be this bad. The weird thing is that the first time I accessed it, everything was fast and complete. Now, it takes several seconds to load each page and there are many things that don't display any more on the main page; like the unit's SIM ID data, the firmware version, the MAC addresses of the connected devices, etc.
- You can't access the my.t-mobile.com web site with an iDevice. I've tried both my ancient iPad 1 (5.1.1 I believe) and my iPod Touch (running 6.1.6) using Safari and Chrome. Both return an error message saying, "Sorry, there was an error in processing your request.". The only way of looking at your account data is to download the T-Mobile My Account app.
- Unit has a larger footprint than the Overdrive Pro but is thinner. It fits inside a shirt pocket or back pants pocket better.
- The battery gauge could be a little bit bigger.
- The screen and back panel covering the battery compartment are fingerprint magnets. It's like my iPod before I stuck it inside a case.
- While the hotspot is essentially a cell phone that is not capable of receiving voice calls, it does accept text messages. You can see that a message was received on the hotspot's screen, but there's no way to read it there. You have to use a browser and sign into the admin page to read the message. You can also reply to it there. Not sure if there's any benefits to this. I suppose if this was somebody's sole connection method to the cell phone network or internet, then this would be useful. On the plus side, the data plan allows an unlimited number of text messages.
- I have yet to test the USB tethering feature and I probably won't. There's a built-in USB-to-Micro USB cable that wraps around the lower edge of the hotspot. Since I use both my iPod and A31p here at work wirelessly, I don't see the need to tie the box to a single computer.
- The gauge on the hotspot's screen showing the amount of data used is not yet working correctly (as also mentioned in the PCMag review). I don't know that it will once the initial 10GB is used up and then I start consuming my monthly data allotment. If it never works right, then I'd move this into the minus category. It's useful to see how much data has been consumed with a quick glance at the hotspot. The Overdrive Pro had to be double-clicked several times but the data was there from day one.