My review of the AT&T Elevate 4G Hotspot
So the location I’m working at doesn’t have a functioning internet connection. That’s a problem for me. Aside from going to MSDN and checking web mail which is important for my job, I need to check traffic, news sites, occasionally social networking, and so much more. Fortunately I can do all of that easily from my Windows Phone 7, but there’s nothing like viewing it from the comfort of your laptop. Besides that, I’ve always been dying to break the reliance on finding a Starbucks for their WiFi. In any case it was time to find some wireless internet. I assumed I’d do a dongle or aircard, but I discovered MiFi.
Since I was already an AT&T customer, I figured I’d just continue with them. I thought about going to Sprint’s 4G, but I heard they were dropping their WiMax for LTE. (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/10/sprint-lte-rollout-2013/) Since LTE must obviously be the technology to use. Since AT&T does 4G LTE, my decision was made. I went into the store, and their newest 4G MiFi was the Elevate. The coolest thing about the Elevate is you don’t need to connect it to your computer to use it. You basically turn it on, and it exposes a SSID you can connect to. In fact, you can connect 5 devices to it, so I can configure my phone to connect to it also. It needs to be charged so you *eventually* need to plug it in.
So now that I got it, how did it compare to real life usage? Pretty darn good. The first thing I did when I got it, was to do a speed test. The results were surprising. 24.03 Mb/s down, 9.79 Mb/s up, and a 49ms ping time. Amazing! I did all the stuff I normally do, lots of remote desktop, msdn, checking some news sites, all that junk. Also Outlook, Lync, and Live Mesh were running in the background syncing like they do. It’s also interesting to note that I only have 1 bar of signal with the 4G LTE.
To really get a good idea of what it can do, I watched a streaming video demonstrating how to write and use Reactive Extensions. (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/gg577609). I didn’t experience a single hiccup. At this point I’m sold.
The only problem I experienced is one morning I turned it on, and it wasn’t using 4G LTE. Only the 4G. I thought this would be fine, but it was not. No No No NO. When it was on normal 4G, I was getting speeds of 1.48 Mb/s down, and .71 Mb/s up with a 105ms ping time. Unacceptable. This was with 4 bars of connectivity in 4G. I was a little concerned at this point that there might not be the LTE available where I’m at (inside an office building) all the time, and I’d have to constantly fall back to the crappier 4G. What I did, was turn the device off and then back on again, which gave me the LTE back. If I’m able to do that every time it drops to regular 4G, then that’s not a problem - just an inconvenience. Hopefully I don’t have to do that all that often.
As far as battery life goes, I give it a 3/5 in my mythical system where this is the only device that’s been judged. What I was hoping for would be I could connect it, throw it into my bag, and I’d have 4G LTE internet wherever I go until I go to bed. Then I’d plug it in. Sadly, that’s not the case. On a full charge, it got me though about 6 hours of my work day before the 15% alarm went off. Still that’s not bad.
All in all, I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who wants super-fast wireless 4G LTE internet wherever they go.