• Review: Rogers Rocket Mobile HotSpot (Novatel MiFi 2372)

    Posted by Mike Yawney on April 14th, 2010 View Comments

    mifiMobile 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 Design

    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 of  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.

    The Setup

    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.

    The Performance

    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

    Downloads Mid-Afternoon

    Download average 3.2 Mbps
    Upload Average 1.5 Mbps

    Evening

    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 strong  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.

    The Downsides

    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.

    The Good

    Small, light and compact design
    Easy setup
    Decent range
    Up to 5 devices can connect via WiFi

    The Bad

    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.

    • http://www.thereviewcrew.com/news/rogers-announces-mifi-for-canada/ Rogers Announces MiFi For Canada – The Review Crew

      [...] Check out our full review here! [...]

    • Allan_Vancouver

      Novatel are in the process of recalling all 2372 MiFi units, confirmed for Bell and Rogers so far (they both have sent “stop sell” orders to all corporate and retail outlets). There is a battery “swelling” problem requiring a battery and back cover replacement, however Novatel are going to take 6 to 8 weeks to repair/return the units. Bell has begun the recall by contacting all customers, and maybe Rogers has as well.

    • Mike Yawney

      Yes Allan, we have heard about the issue and are waiting for official comment from Rogers on this.

    • Debra

      will this device handle skype video?

    • Jim

      How does this device work?
      Do I need a Rogers cell phone or does it connect to the cell network itself?

    • Jim

      …oh, and what happens if I take it to the US? will it work there?

    • http://www.thereviewcrew.com DM Le Bray

      Jim,

      The device uses a data sim card from your carrier (in this case, Rogers). You don’t need a Rogers cell phone–the MiFi will have a sim card of its own to connect to the cell network (as part of the data plan that is purchased separately from the device).

      As for the states: I believe that, since the data costs would be astronomical, roaming is automatically turned off on this device… if you go to the states it should not work unless you buy an sim card for that area. I’d confirm roaming charges with Rogers before you try to use it outside of the country, though.

    • Jim

      Thanks DM … Exactly what I needed to know!

    • simon

      No wifi while charging? Someone should have lost his job on that decision. That’s a deal breaker right there!

      I’m in a remote area with no broadband, 3G data connection in my only affordable option in my house. I wanted to use the thing as a normal broadband router and the thing does not work while it charges…

      How cool is that! >:-(

    • mag

      Simon,

      You are better with a rocket stick plugged into a SOHO router that has this feature – this would allow you to share the 3G network and give you powerful router features. Mifi is a mobile hotspot and when it is plugged in it’s not mobile ;) . Strange it has no batterry level indicator.

    • Rico

      July 15

      I recieved the revised Mifi yesterday. It looks like they changed it so you can get online while charging. That is what I am doing now. In checking with Rogers they charge an additional $10.00 per month which allows you to use it in the states.

    • jk

      when does this come out and what year and month

    • Peter

      Umm…Rogers is wrong…just tested mine plugged into the wall….Still get a connection on wifi.
      this thing works great!

    • Brad

      How much is it to buy, and what are the monthly fees?

    • Glen

      Not able to open ports to configure port forwarding? It just hangs up when the ports is clicked? Javascript:showports(‘c01′,0) is shown briefly when the port is clicked? I have tried a bunch of different browsers all configured to open Java? Every thing else configures fine with all browsers tried. It sure looks easy on pages 59,60 of the users guide…The windows are shown for the port forwarding configuration of UDP and TCP…

    • Jeremy

      Nov 9th, 2010
      Thanks for the review. I have been trying to find out if the Rogers Novatel mifi 2372 does actually let you access wifi if you have it plugged in via the a/c charger. There are conflicting posts here that you can and you can’t.

    • Chuck Turner

      Purchased ATT’s version (Novatel MiFi 2372) on 11/29 2010. The unit does operate when charging.

    • Simon

      I bought one from Rogers last night to upgrade from regular portable internet. Wifi works fine while it’s plugged in but I’m concerned about a few things.

      1. I looked at my usage after 1/2 a day – I’m at 1.6 Gigs already from streaming netflix for an hour. Rogers starts with 500mb’s for $35 and bumps you up as you go. I was told to bundle it with

      2. I keep getting booted off and have to reconnect via the site

      3. really short battery life in the field & max of 5 users will make it less useful sometimes

      4. no ability to expand the signal with a router

      It’s been good at home but I think it’s both an upgrade & a downgrade.

      Good review site btw.

    • Joe

      Does anyone know if this unit is SIM locked to Rogers? in other words, if I bring this unit to the US, can I put in a pre-paid SIM card with data plan?

    • Sarah

      Great review! You write: “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.”

      We just picked up a Mifi a couple of days ago, but we can’t figure out how to check the data used. Which website do we go to in order to view data usage and battery life?

      Thanks!

    • Sarah

      Figured out our own problem. Surprise, surprise, the Rogers website was down while I tried to access it. Now that it’s up, I was able to get into My Rogers. :)

    • Cornelius Talmadge

      Clarification on the Mifi charging while being used. I have the Novatel Mifi 2372 and it is fully functional while being charged to an outlet (AC adapter) or car adapter (USB to DC) with wifi accessibility. So you need to amend your statement.

      Disclaimer, I have the Bell Novatel Mifi 2372, but I cannot see why Rogers’ is any different.

      I do believe, however, that while charging to a computer, that you are correct, and wifi is disabled.

      There is a similar EVO “mifi-like” device (don’t recall its exact name) that I rented while travelling in Japan that DOES have this limitation. You cannot use it while it is being charged and this IS a serious pain.

    • Phil

      I’ve found this to be the case too, the Java error. I can’t configure it so i can use it for my PS3 properly

    • Sonya

      Mine dosent or when it hard wired in to my PC dissapointed

    • T Picard

      I got one and if the wifi is on i plug it in for charging and it good to go for as long that u want i love my.

    • Geogab1

      I’ve had one for a year and like it… but the real issue is that does it still charge while plugged in and you are using wireless. You can use wireless, but it does not charge the battery.  So you’re using battery only, and there’s no point in plugging it in while you are using it. Rogers verified that.  At least with my version using firmware 24.2 (new version is 26.n but I have not upgraded yet.)

    • Steffany_chevonne

      Can I purchase this instead of the Rocket Hub and have access to say, Primus for Phone instead of paying 149 (2 year contract) for the hub?

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