This guest article was submitted by Chris King.
My wallet is in trouble this week because Sprint is finally adding some exciting new devices into their lineup, which had gotten a bit stale lately. Of course, Saturday is the big Palm Pre launch, and I'm sure I'll find my way there at 8 a.m. even though I keep trying to resist.
But this article is not about the Pre; I'll save that for another time because today I'm going to tell you about another new Sprint device that got me in the store a few days early. I'm talking about the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile router that was released yesterday. And from what I have seen so far, this is definitely a challenger to the title that CradlePoint has always kind of had to themselves.
I'll follow up with a more detailed review after I use the MiFi for a week or two, but in the meantime, here's my quick first take and some pics to show how the MiFi 2200 works and how it compares in size to my other battery-operated mobile router, the CradlePoint PHS300.
First off, if you're thinking the MiFi 2200 looks familiar, score one point for your attentiveness. It is in fact the same device that Verizon started selling a few weeks back, with a few slight differences. Sprint decided to keep the original brushed aluminum top cover from the prototype that Novatel first showed off late last year, while Verizon went with an all-black look. Personally, I much prefer the Sprint color, but that's obviously not what makes this thing amazing. Since I was speaking of differences between the carrier models, though, let me finish by saying that Sprint did not cripple their unit by locking out GPS: it is there and it works with very little effort. Besides GPS and color, the only other differences are the carrier-customized web browser setup pages, which you can see below.
Since this is not intended as a full review, let me skip right to the greatest feature of the MiFi 2200, which is a serious lack of something. Say what? Yes, it has a serious lack of . . . size! This thing is tiny. I was shocked when I first opened the box because all of the photos I had seen online made it look much larger. Plus, I just assumed that a mobile router could not be made this small. I don't admit it often, but I was wrong.
This thing makes my PHS300 look huge and so not-mobile. Think of a laptop computer from about 8-10 years ago, then compare it to all of the sleek netbooks of today. That will help illustrate the size of the MiFi 2200.
Stated battery life of the MiFi is 4 hours, which if that turns out to be accurate will be about double the runtime of the PHS300. The included li-ion battery is rated at 1150mAh and is very easy to swap out once replacements become available. Included in the box are the following:
- MiFi2200 Mobile Router
- AC adapter (uses standard microUSB connector)
- Black slip case
- Quick Start guide
So far in my limited usage, cellular signal and WiFi range appear to be at least as good as my old CradlePoint PHS300/Compass 597 USB modem setup, but I will reserve final judgment on this until I use it for at least another week. From what I have seen so far, however, I can already highly recommend the MiFi 2200 to anyone looking for a more flexible solution than a standard USB broadband modem or integrated 3G modem.
The Novatel Wireless MiFi2200 Mobile Router is available at www.sprint.com or selected Sprint Stores for $299.99 without a new contract or upgrade. Price is only $99.99 after instant savings and a mail-in rebate with a new line or qualified upgrade with a 2-year contract.
Chris King (orbitalcomp) is a long-time handheld tech user, dating back to the original Newton MessagePad and then moving on to dozens of different devices over the years. Currently, he finds himself surrounded by a multitude of touchscreen devices, including a pair of Fujitsu U-series, a Nokia N800, and an iPhone 3G.