Review: Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot (Novatel MiFi 2372)Posted by Mike Yawney on April 14th, 2010 View Comments
Mobile internet is nothing new. We’ve seen devices on the market for a couple of years now that can give us high speed internet on the go (as long as we have access to a 3G cell signal). At one point, those devices had to be either plugged into the wall, or hardwired to your laptop to give you internet access. But things are changing. Rogers has started offering the Novatel MiFi 2372 to Canadians. But is this wireless personal WiFi hotspot much better than the other devices already on the market?
The Rogers Rocket Mobile Hotspot (RRMH) is surprisingly small for what it can do. Measuring only 62 mm x 98 mm x 15.3 mm, it fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It’s also quite light! The device is only 81 grams which makes it easy to take with you on the go.
In terms of visual design, it’s quite simple. The case is made ofÂ white plastic with a band of “chrome” around the edge. There are only two ports on the exterior of the unit. One port is for mini USB (used for tethering) and the other a MicroSD card (for networked storage).
The Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot requires a SIM card for service. The card is placed in a slot beneath the battery. You have to open up the device to get at the SIM card, which doesn’t really matter since you’ll probably have a dedicated SIM card for the unit anyways.
You can easily setup the RRMH in a minute or less. Rogers recommends you charge the unit for at least 4 hours prior to first use. Once it’s charged you simply turn it on and wait for the wireless network to appear on your laptop or wireless device. A WiFi key will be needed to access your wireless network, which can be found under the battery compartment door.
Once your wireless network is up and running, you can connect up to five devices to it. Each device will have to be set up individually by entering the WiFi key password. You can also tether the RRMH to your laptop via USB cable but this will place limitations on the device. More on that later.
Since the RRMH runs off the Rogers 3.5G network, you have to keep in mind that speeds can vary throughout the day depending on network traffic. Rogers says the device is capable of downloading data at a rate of 7.2 Mbps. We got varying results at various time throughout the day.
Downloads Late Morning
Download average 1.88 Mbps
Upload average 1.32 Mbps
Download average 3.2 Mbps
Upload Average 1.5 Mbps
Download average 3.06 Mbps
Upload average 2.94 Mbps
As you can see, the speed changed dramatically according to the time of day. Sure, some of the numbers look low, but it really wasn’t noticeable while surfing the web. Sure there was a bit of lag downloading the odd picture, but it wasn’t that bad.
In terms of battery life, Rogers claims it will last up to 4 hours on a single charge. I found that number to be fairly accurate. I got around 3 and a half hours per charge each time, give or take a a few minutes. I did notice the battery lost its charge faster when more than one device was connected via WiFi, but that’s to be expected.
As with most WiFi hotspots, range can become an issue. A hotspot is only good if your computer can pick it up. I found the WiFi signal to be strongÂ to about 50 feet, with a slight drop around 60 – 70 feet and almost non existent at 100 feet. While the RRMH signal can penetrate walls, the signal quality will be affected depending on the building material. Normal drywall walls don’t seem to have a large impact on signal quality.
Another interesting feature is the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot on the RRMH. The slot can accommodate a 16GB MicroSD card to allow file sharing on your own private WiFi network. Everyone who is connected to your WiFi network has access to the files. Neat idea.
Last, but not least, we need to address data usage. Once you have installed the RRMH on your computer you will have access to a website which tracks how much time you spend online and how much data has been used. You can also see the battery life of the device. There is no battery gauge on the RRMH itself, so you must visit the webpage to see how much life you have left in your unit.
I did notice a few curious issues when it came to battery charging and connectivity with the RRMH. For instance, when you attach the device to a laptop via USB for a direct connection, the WiFi gets disabled. That means no one else can connect to the network. While it won’t be an issue if you are by yourself, if you have family members or friends relying on the connection, they will be out of luck. Plugging the device into a wall outlet is even worse. No one is able to connect to the RRMH in this situation. Rogers has confirmed to me that WiFi gets disabled once the device is being charged! This seems strange and makes usage over long periods of time not practical.
I also admit, I wish there was a battery life indicator on the device itself. You must access a webpage through your computer on the RRMH network to see how much juice you have left. A pain in the butt if you’re about to head out the door and you’re unsure how much life is left in the unit.
The Bottom Line
I actually found the Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot very useful. Think of the possibilities: a family can go on a road trip and everyone can have internet access for their devices along the way as long as there is 3G coverage! It almost sounds too good to be true, but it is possible with this device. It’s definitely better than the Rocket Stick since more than one person can access the web at the same time. I do, however, have concerns about the ability to use the device while it’s being charged. It just seems like a no-brainer to have the unit function as normal while plugged into an outlet.
The Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot is definitely a great way to experience wireless high speed internet on the go. If you have a Rocket Stick, I’d definitely consider trading it in for this bad boy. Meanwhile, Rocket Hub owners will be happier with what they already own! Just beware of the limited connectivity while charging before you sign up for a 3 year contract with it.
Small, light and compact design
Up to 5 devices can connect via WiFi
Gets quite warm during use
Can’t connect via WiFi while it’s connected to a laptop or charging
Couldn’t get the download/upload speeds Rogers claims it is capable of
The Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot is available for $50 with a 3 year contract or $250 with no contract. Bell also has the same unit available for the same price, only it’s branded under the Bell name.
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