Saturday, May 1, 2010

MiFi 2372.... FTW!

While the old portable hotspot solution I had was nice, it wasn't very portable. The idea of taking that rig with me on the train just wasn't going to be an option. So when I heard that Novatel Wireless had an AT&T friendly HSUPA network quad-band MiFi available, I decided to look into it.

AT&T doesn't offer the 2372. The only reason I can think of why they wouldn't is that perhaps Verizon negotiated some sort of exclusivity with Novatel. You CAN get the 2372 from either Bell Canada or Rogers... if you don't mind moving to Canada.

But that doesn't really matter. Because I already bought the Quicksilver card, I'm on a subsidized contract with AT&T anyway. Even if AT&T sold them, I'd have to buy one at full price.

So Google to the rescue. You can find places on the Internet that sell the 2372, and if you don't mind having the device airmailed to you from the Ukraine, you can get a reasonably good price.

The device itself is slightly smaller than an iPhone 3G/3GS. It has one button on the front that turns it on and off. It has a micro USB connector on the back for charging and for use with a single device without WiFi. In this mode, the device appears exactly like a standard USB 3G modem. It even can be used in Snow Leopard as a standard wireless WAN device.

There's only one problem I have had with the device so far. Its built-in DHCP server refuses to respond if you have a DHCP Client ID configured:

You have to leave the DHCP client ID space blank or you won't get an address configured. The other minor issue is that the router doesn't support uPNP or NAT-PMP, so the Back-to-my-Mac pane of the MobileMe control panel complains that it can't be reached by your other registered machines. This might mean other issues as well for apps as well if they require setting up port maps and stuff like that. Of course, IPv6 would be the perfect fix... someday.

When you're connected to the device, you can connect to http://www.mifi/ to get status on or reconfigure the device. This is also the place where you can talk to the file sharing component that serves up the files on a card in the microSD slot. I haven't tried that feature of the device, however.

Lastly, the device purports to have a GPS receiver built-in that allows you to query for location information. Unfortunately, it requires cooperation from the carrier to allow it to be turned on, and only the Sprint MiFi currently has this feature enabled.

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