Getting online these days is more important than it ever was before, in some cases being able to get online for email and browsing is more important than a phone call or text message.
There are a few ways to get online if you have a tablet or laptop but the two most popular are using either a USB dongle which works in computers, or more recently a MiFi (Mobile WiFi) device which works like your home router, just mobile with network signal for on the go.
This is one of the latest products from EE, who are well known here in the UK for their strong 4G network and wide range of internet plans.
Not that long ago we reviewed the original Osprey up in Wembley, a great location to see superfast 4G in action.
This new one comes in two versions. The Osprey 2, which is an upgrade to the last one, has a bigger battery and lets you charge your mobile too.
The other one, which we have here, is the Osprey Mini 2. This is the smaller brother so to speak, it packs the same connectivity as the larger one – just with smaller battery. This reduced battery size does mean, however, that it’s more portable.
Looking at the front there’s the EE logo right in the centre. Below that, a 5-light LED indicator plus lights for 4G, 3G and messages.
Whilst the EE logo is just for show, the lights are very handy as it shows you if you are connected to 4G or 3G. It’ll also show whether you’ve received any texts and how strong the signal is.
Some other makes of MiFi have a display which drains the battery, so this is a much better option if you are concerned about battery life.
The rubber surround adds to the grip so you don’t drop it whilst moving around. This is a nice design feature and you can also swap it out with other colours, two of which come in the box and are either pink or a shade of green. These are easily swappable depending on your mood or style.
Two of the sides, as you will see in the photos, are plain. However the right side has the single microUSB port which is used for charging the built-in battery, no removable battery here I am afraid.
On the front side you have a single button in the middle. When powered on this turns green if the battery is fine, and turns red if you are running low and need to top up the power.
Earlier on I mentioned that the rubber surround can be removed and replaced if you wish, and as you can see in the photos above this then gives you access to the microSIM card slot as well as the ‘R’ button you can press in with a pin if you wish to reset to default settings.
The great thing about a MiFi device is there is no setup needed on a computer or tablet, no software to install and no tricky bits and bobs to get you going.
Just put in the SIM supplied with your purchase under the rubber surround and switch it on and the device is ready.
Pairing is as simple as any other WiFI device. Your Osprey Mini 2 has a unique network name (which you can change in the settings) and the password is located either on a sticker on the bottom of the device, or on a card included in the box.
If you want to get to the control panel, in your address bar type in the address 192.168.1.1 and you will see the screen above.
This is the control panel which shows you the connection status, amount of data used, how many devices are connected as well as links to change the settings or purchase more data. This supports up to 10 devices.
I do quite a lot of travelling to tech events around the UK and stay over in a lot of different hotel brands depending where is the best location for me. Let me tell you, hotel WiFI can be REALLY expensive or – if it is free – will have really slow speeds.
Tethering is one option. That’ll share the phone internet connection with my computer, but this drains the battery and – if you’re a heavy data user it uses up valuable phone data. I might need to use that on my phone later..
There are also those people who do not have home broadband for various reasons such as fibre cables not being in your area yet.
These are both great reasons to take a look at a MiFi device and, with nearly 90% 4G coverage and a wide range of plans available (both on PAYG and PAYM), EE is a great choice of supplier.
If you only want occasional use but on a contract, then plans start at just £10 for 1GB. If, however, you are a heavy data user or you want to use as a home broadband option then there are larger plans up to a whopping 50GB of data a month costing £50.
If you are not a fan of a monthly bill or just prefer to try on PAYG first then this is also available.
The Osprey Mini 2 costs £49.99 which includes 6GB of data which lasts for 90 days to start with.
Once this runs out there are packs available lasting 30 days but these are not listed online, instead you need to visit the top-up page and purchase on the web site.
Overall I was very impressed with what EE have on sale here. The new smaller device held up really well, with battery life lasting long enough to get a full charge from my new MacBook Pro. The speeds were great, hitting up to 65Mbps when staying in Wembley recently over the 4G network. Speaking of the network, with nearly 90% coverage and a massive allowance of spectrum at it’s disposal you get great support.
If you are looking for a mobile broadband option at a low price but great portability, this is defiantly worth considering being checked out.