My iPad, My Way with MiFi

I’ve had my Vodafone MiFi adapter for just over a week now, so I thought it was time to write about it.

(For non-geeks in the audience, MiFi is a like a personal WiFi hot spot. Or like a mobile phone with no keypad/microphone/speaker that can act as a Wireless LAN hot-spot. It uses a SIM Card and 3G connections to provide the Internet connection. So you can connect your iPad to it and get online – without needing any physical connections at all – just wireless).

When I originally got the iPad I decided to go MiFi instead of going for a 3G enabled model. That way, I only need one SIM (and fee) and get WiFi access from my various laptops as well as the iPad (a colleague even accesses his MiFi from his Smartphone as the phone blocks VoIP over 3G – but it works if he goes via the MiFi.,

The Vodafone device is very sleek (in fashionable iPod white), and about the size of a deck of playing cards, as they say (maybe a bit smaller, and not so thick). So ti slips easily in the pocket or bag, and then you can forget about it (as all connections are wireless). As soon as I had recharged it (mini-USB connector, the same as my BlackBerry and Plantronics Bluetooth headset – that is great as with one adapter (from the iPad) and two cables I can recharge (and connect) all my gadgets when on the road, Vodafone claims 4 hours use from one charge (which seems to match my experience). And you can trickle charge it (or keep it charged) with a USB connection to the laptop (and in that case, you can turn wireless off as it connects via the USB using the software provided).

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Having set it up (and defined an SSID and pass phrase), I connected via Wi-Fi from the Ipad, my Tablet PC (Windows XP), my Acer Aspire Netbook (Ubuntu) and even my ThinkPad (Windows XP – that took a PC reboot, but it had been running for quite a while without a reboot and its wireless LAN tends to get confused, in my experience).

It just worked. Without fuss or problems. And has ever since.

I am just as irritated as ever that 3G is not reliable on the train (I have the same problem trying to Twitter from my BlackBerry), but it is great to be able to whip out the iPad and be online. I used Google Maps with Location Services to find my way to the station through Cambridge last week (is that using GPS in the iPad or the MiFi – I am not sure – the thing is, it just works!).

The device also takes a MicroSD (not provided – fortunately I had a spare) and from a browser you can upload files which anyone connected to your hot-spot can then download (I am sure there is a use for that, but the HTTP upload/download process is a bit cumbersome – it is a shame it doesn’t just appear as a USB device on your PC desktop when tethered).

So, overall, 5 stars – it does exactly what I wanted, very simply.

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