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AT&T’s MiFi Liberate: Impressive speed, battery life

Mark Sullivan | April 19, 2013
The touchscreen is just OK, and suggested media center functions left me unimpressed, but you can’t argue with high speeds and long battery life.

MiFi

I have been using AT&T's new MiFi Liberate mobile hotspot, made by Novatel, and have found it reasonably easy to use and capable of some really fast feeds when connected to the AT&T LTE network.

This hotspot is also different from previous models because it has a touchscreen, and it's able to tether to your device so that you don't have to rely on the wireless connection from hotspot to the device if you don't want to.

Touchscreen display is OK

The small touchscreen is not as responsive or pretty as an iPad screen, but it's good enough to facilitate some basic interaction with the device. The screen first shows you four large icons labeled Connection Details, Data Usage, Connected Devices and Settings. Touch any of these buttons to drill down for more information or settings options.

The top bar of the home screen shows you your connection strength (number of bars out of five), the current time, number of devices currently connected to the hotspot, and battery level.

I liked the fact that when you touch the Connection Details icon, you can immediately see a lot of information that will help you use the device. These bits include the name of the Wi-Fi network the MiFi creates (so you can recognize it in the network options of the device you're trying to connect), the Wi-Fi password you'll need to connect, the type of security you're running, and the maximum number of devices you can connect (10).

You'll also find the URL for a page where you can drill down and tweak a lot of the finer settings of the device, along with the password you'll need to access the page.

Touch the Setting icon and you can mess with other settings like the screen time-out time and brightness, airplane mode on/off, roaming on/off, sound alerts and others.

Hotspot as media server? 

There's a slot for a 32GB microSD card slot on the front of the device. The content on that card (sold separately) can be accessed by any device connected to the hotspot. AT&T and MiFi suggest using it to store entertainment stuff like movies, music and photos. Connected devices access that content using a Web browser or via DLNA (a wireless standard allowing devices to share media).

 


SULLIVAN. The Liberate has a large 2900 mAh battery that lasted more than 16 hours on one charge in our lab tests. The slot for the SIM card is located inside the battery compartment.

 

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