The Web Cube from Three is a bit of an odd idea to think about at first. It is a bit like the MiFi, a device used to get access to the Internet through the mobile phone network. Where it differs from the mobile, and most products offered by mobile phone companies is that it is not mobile. This is a device that needs to be plugged into the mains. However many homes have non mobile routers plugged into the mains to set them up with web access. The Web Cube is intended to be a replacement for that device, ending the need for ADSL and the fixed telephone line that always comes with it that many do not use anymore. The Web Cube is only available in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds at the moment, but I've been taking one for a test drive in Milton Keynes.
Three UK's third generation MiFi has slightly more refined looks than its predecessor, but it doesn't feature "go faster" stripes which is curious as the inclusion of HSPA+ technology promises a turbo boosted Internet connection with speeds theoretically up to 21 Mbps - enough to put many landline broadband connections to shame. I attended the launch event for the new MiFi (also known as the Huawei E586) and have been trying one out. How does it perform? How easy is it to use? Plus, with the increasing number of mobile phones that are capable of tethering (sharing their mobile broadband connection with another device through WiFi) is it still a compelling product?
Back in June I attended an event where the new version of 3's MiFi was shown off publicly for the first time. I was impressed then with it and the improvements over the original version and have now, thanks to ThreeMobileBuzz had the chance to trial one of these, putting it through its paces in a variety of situations. The device did not disappoint and proved useful in many situations and easy for people to use. The MiFi 2 feels a lot easier to use than its predecessor. This is perhaps odd as the MiFi 1 was not very difficult to use, but never really felt responsive. The lights on the front of the original unit sometimes didn't help much and when starting up the device, if you are in impatient type, it was easy to think that it was not working. The one button design of the MiFi 2 and the informative screen solve all of this by providing a very obvious visual indication of what the device is doing. It is really easy to tell when it is starting up, or ready to use and the availability of this information greatly enhances the user experience. You get help cards and a set up guide to help you on your way too.
The MiFi is a handy little device from 3 that allows you to have a pocket sized mobile broadband router that can connect to the mobile network to give you access to the Internet while you are out and about. Despite its convenience the unit did cause owners to have a few gripes, it had a status display that was tricky to understand, you could only reconfigure it with the supplied Windows client and its three button operation proved unpopular. Taking this feedback onboard 3 have been working with the unit's maker Huawei to bring out a new and improved version and I've just been to the event in London where the MiFi 2 (also known as the Huawei E585) was shown off to bloggers.
Last night I attended the 3MobileBuzz New Year Meet Up in London. It was a great evening and was a chance to mix with people from 3 UK, 3MobileBuzz and also other bloggers and individuals interested in the mobile industry. The big surprise of the evening for me was being awarded the 3mbcreative prize! I did not expect to receive the prize and was really happy just to be nominated. Thank you to everybody on Twitter who voted for me. The picture on the right shows me trying to do an acceptance speech.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I have had some ups and downs with Novatel's 2352 Intellegent Mobile Hotspot. It was a rocky start, but the story has a happy ending. This is a small device that combines a mobile broadband modem with a WiFi hotspot allowing you to connect up to five devices to the Internet while out and about without the need to install drivers. It is along similar lines to 3's Mifi device, in fact outside the UK it is called a “Mifi”, so maybe we should just say “it's a Mifi”. I tried it out with various tests to see how it performs.
This week I have been lucky enough to be one of the first people in the UK to have a play with a product that 3 are bringing out today (Friday 18th September): the MiFi. What on earth is a "MiFi" you might ask? It is a small device that combines a mobile broadband modem, a WiFi router and a battery. You can easily carry it around with you, and connecting to it is no more complicated than connecting to any other WiFi hotspot. Up to five devices can be connected to it, you won't need any extra drivers or configuration packages and yes it works on Ubuntu. You can also connect devices to it that can't use a mobile broadband dongle, like iPod Touches and Internet radio devices and locked down corporate laptops that you can't install software on to. I was invited to an event in London on Monday by the folk at 3MobileBuzz and got to find out about the device, as well as be loaned one to try it out.