22 July, 2013

Huawei E5151 Mobile WiFi

This mobile WiFi device (sometimes called MiFi, Mi-Fi) takes a 3G SIM card and serves Internet access over its own Wi-Fi network. I found this kind of devices rather confusing. There are "3G routers" with a USB port, but you can't use them on their own - you need a USB modem. And most aren't battery-powered. There are also USB modems, which need a computer, or the previous type of device to work. The E5151 works on its own. I found other models by TP-Link  (M5350, $118) and Prolink (PRT7001H, $128). These 2 models also have a microSD card slot, but it's only accessible by USB (i.e. USB mass storage), not over the Wi-Fi network.

There are lots of sites selling this, but no real reviews. I guess it's considered a mobile phone (mobile phones are huge sellers online), but maybe this model is too expensive.

Who is this type of device for? I think they're meant for people who:
  1. Have cheap/free 3G access - maybe their home broadband plan has free 3G, or their mobile plan has too much data and they can get another SIM card.
  2. Have devices without 3G access / want to share 3G with several devices

The main feature of this device over others is it has an ethernet port, so it can share one ethernet Internet connection over Wi-Fi as well, like a router.

Package contents:
  • E5151
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • micro-USB cable
  • Documentation
No charger or case.

First impressions:
  • It's very easy to use. Just put in your SIM card and start it up.
  • It creates a secured wireless network by default (and uses customised passwords, instead of a single password for all sets. The password is on a sticker inside the back cover.)
  • Configured by http, as all routers should be.
  • It has a 5-second startup feature, and it really works! Very impressive.
  • If you plug it in to an "easy" ethernet connection (no need to log in), it automatically changes from 3G to ethernet. Users don't need to do anything.

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