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Novatel MiFi M4510L Product Review (Verizon Wireless)
The Novatel MiFi 4510L Mobile Wi-Fi Modem is a revolutionary device that is available today on the Verizon Wireless' (VZW) 4G LTE mobile network. This device is also known as a "Mobile Hotspot". (see my other Hub on Mobile Hotspots). Novatel was really the first OEM to introduce the Mifi concept many years ago with their original Mifi on VZW's EVDO network. (see photo of silver Mifi on the right) It was commercial way before the world really knew or understood what it did. I was fortunate enough to have one of the originals. I used it for a few years before anyone really knew the value of such a device. Today,many device manufacturers make and sell their own version of the MiFi. Since Novatel was the first and the fact that they specialized in data devices for many years, such devices as PCMCIA cards and USB data dongles, they are my first choice in brand name even though there are now several to choose from.
The first key thing about the 4510L is that it runs on Verizon Wireless' new high speed, 4G LTE mobile network. Verizon Wireless is very conservative when it comes to expressing speeds and they are advertizing a maximum 12Mb speeds on the downlink with this device. Like I said, VZW is very conservative in terms of their advertized speeds so you could possibly receive downlink speeds higher than that. These 4G speeds allow you to work at speeds similar to what you'd experience in your home with cable or DSL modems. It creates a mobile environment very conducive to being extremely productive. Since VZW's 4G network is not quite ubiquitous yet, the 4510L will also fall back to VZW's CDMA EVDO RevA network, which touts maximum theoretical downlink throughputs of 3.1 Mbps. Even this environment is one where you will still be very productive.
What Can I Do with this Device?
The 4510L serves as a mobile hotspot. What this means is the device is a Wifi access point, able to support up to 5 Wifi-enabled devices. That makes this device similar to a WiFi access point you may have in your home or office. The big difference is the backhaul (how the device connects to the Internet) is via VZW's mobile network, using either their LTE or EVDO technologies, whichever is available in your current location. This means you can use the device basically anywhere your VZW cell phone works. This is what makes the 4510L a "mobile hotspot". The device has a built-in battery so you can have it on while you are moving in a car, train, bus or any other vehicle (Please don't try to use this while you're driving!!!!). By turning on the 4510L, it will emit a system id which is findable to any/all nearby Wifi devices. Don't worry, the 4510L has built-in security which will require any devices trying to attach to it to be provided a password. This allows you to control who can and can't use service off your MiFi.
Once you've provided access (a one-time passwd that each Wifi device will need to configure), any allowed WiFi device in the vicinity (typically within 30+ feet) can begin accessing the Internet through your MiFi. Nowadays, almost every device comes with WiFi built-in so many devices/gadgets will be able to take advantage of your MiFi.
The most obvious device is your typical laptop. While away from your office, home or school, your laptop will be able to use the MiFi to gain internet access. Once attached, you can work just as if you were hard wired to a router somewhere. The not so obvious devices are all the new Android and Apple tablets, Apple iPods, Gaming Devices, Kindle and Nook E-book readers, and many many more devices.
So why do I need to attach so many devices to this portable MiFi? Think about a long car trip to visit grandma or grandpa. While in the car, yo can turn on your MiFi and now the kids in the back seat can access the Internet with their mobile devices (tablets or iPods for example) to do Facebook, Tweet, Stream Movies, or download music (I'd strongly reccomend they all get headsets). Similarly, your spouse or studious students can download books or magazines real-time to their E-book readers.
In a business environment, up to 5 colleagues can share the one device to gain access to their email and files back on the office Intranet through a VPN. This means if you go to a customer site, their is no need to try to figure out how to get internet access through their companies network. You simply power up your MiFi, and your in business. I've personally done this several time in a customer's location. I simply opened up my MiFi and myself and 2 othe colleagues were able to be online the entire time. This comes in especially handy when you can set up an IM session with a technical expert back in the office who can help answer any tough questions that may come up!!!
Here's another real-life use of the 4510L I can share with you. In October of this year, the East Coast was hit with a freak snow storm that dumped 16 inches of wet, heavy snow on my town. The problem was that heavy snow took down so many trees and power lines that we were without power for 6 days. Most roads were impassable for several days so working from home was the only option. Through the use of generators, we were able to get limited power but cable and DSL services were not available. I was able to turn on my MiFi, and for a solid week, that MiFi provided internet connectivity for 5 people and probably 7 or 8 different devices. We used it so much that certain devices had to take turns getting off the network so others could get on (The MiFi can only support up to 5 devices at a time). The other interesting thing is that my town is not yet covered with VZW's 4G technology so we worked just fine using their 3G EVDO network. The 4510L performed beautifully during the crisis!!!
All-in-all, this is a great device and very useful as you can see from just two or three examples I provided above.
Understanding How to Use the 4510L
The device itself is very simple to use. First off, it's small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. That alone makes what this device does all the more impressive. There is only one button on the entire device, the power button. You use it to turn the device on and off. That's it!!
On top of the sleak device is a status screen which provides helpful information. First of all, there is a signal strength meter, similar to the one's on ever mobile phone, that lets you know how strong of a cellular signal you are picking up. Obviously, the more bars, the stronger the signal.
There is also a battery meter icon that let's you know how much more battery life the device has left.
Finally, there is a roaming icon which lets you know when you are roaming onto another servic providers network. There are also a series of dots, where one dot will be lit for each wifi device attached to the 4510L. Once 5 dots are lit, no more devices can attach.
There is also a service status indicator light on the device. This light lets you know which type of service you are attached to. A green light indicates you're on the 4G LTE network. When the green is flashing, it means data is being transmitted. A violet light indicates you're attached to VZW's 3G CDMA network. Similar to the green, if the violet light is blinking, it simply means you are transmitting data over the CDMA network.
How Much Will the 4510L Cost You?
Currently, VZW is offering the 4510L for free after an immediate $49.99 rebate if you sign up for a 2 year service contract. You will need to sign up for a 4G data plan. Unfortunately, VZW no longer offers the unlimited data plans. Currently you can get 6Gb of usage per month for $50 or 10 Gb of usage per month for $80. You should keep checking the VZW web site as they update their plans frequently.
Why Not Simply Buy an LTE USB Modem for my Mobile Access?
You surely can do exactly that. VZW sells some nice USB Dongles that can provide you with the same 4G connectivity used by the 4510L. The difference being the dongles can only be used by one person at a time, compared to the 4510L which can support 5 users simultaneously. Second, with the USB dongles, you will need to load drivers on your laptop in order to get the dongle to work. Wih the MiFi, nothing needs to be added on your device. You simply need to seach for wireless networks, find the MiFi, enter the password, and your up and running. Service prices will be the same but in my opinion, you get much more flexibility with the MiFi. I personally have one of each, a USB dongle, and a Mifi. Because LTE requires a SIM card, I can simply move the SIM card back and forth between the MiFi and the USB dongle, depending on which device I want to use. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I used the USB dongle. The MiFi is so much more convenient.
For your reading, below I pasted in the specifications and features for the 4510L MiFi directly from the VZW website.I won't go into much detail beyond what I've described alteady. One thing I will point out is that the 4510L Mifi device is built on the Qualcomm MDM9600 ASIC. This is the first baseband mobile ASIC that combines both CDMA and LTE into a single chip (it also support UMTS but that's for another hub). The MDM9600 strips out alot of the capabilities that would be needed for a phone (for example, processing power for driving an operating system and display, amd voice services). This ASIC was built specifically for modems, which the MiFi is. Because of this, the price is much lower on this chip than a similar ASIC that would go into a smartphone. Ths allows Novatel and other OEM's to be able to sell the devices at a much cheaper price. I will mention here that Novatel has MiFi based devices with several operators, not just VZW, so you can also get the MiFi in a UMTS technology which would run on the AT&T network, just as an example.
So hopefully this article converyed to you the many uses of the 4510L MiFi along with a brief tutorial as to how to use it. I would highly reccomend this device to anyone in the market for a wireless data device. I think it's more flexible than a USB dongle or an old PCMCIA card (which aren't even made anymore). The ability to serve up to 5 people and to do so outside a typical office environment using only battery power makes this device even more valuable. As far as the specific Novtel device, I would choose this one strictly on the reputation and experience that Novatel has in the data device market. They've been doing data devices for a long time and have long been a Qualcomm shop so integrating their MDM9600 into this device was similar to activities they've been doing for many years in both CDMA and UMTS.
4G LTE Mobile Broadband and Mobile Broadband capable
LTE: Typical download speeds of 5–12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2–5 Mbps.
Connect up to 5 Wi–Fi® enabled devices at one time
VZAccess® Manager is not required or supported
4G SIM Card compatible
Slim, Compact size
Integrated External Status Display
User–Friendly Web UI: No Software to install
High performance internal antenna
Multi–color service state LED
External Antenna Connector (External antenna sold separately)
Global Data roaming is set to ON by default
- CDMA 1xEV–DO Rev.A/Rev.0: 800/1900 MHz
- 4G LTE (700MHz)
- Wi–Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Internet Browser, Windows® 7, Vista, and XP; Mac OS® X 10.4.0 or higher and Linux®
- One Type–A USB port–For s/w updates ONLY
- Dimensions: H x W x D Size: 3.74" x 2.36 x 0.53 in
- Weight: 3 oz. (85g)
- Battery Times: Usage–Up to 5hrs; Auto Shutoff with 30–minute timer on by default
- SAR: 1.457 W/kg