So here I am in California and want to get online. I was too cheap to buy an iPad with 3G connectivity so I need a wireless hotspot, but an even faster 4G connection would be better. Fortunately, the home office recently received a NetZero 4G WiFi hotspot that might do the trick. The NetZero, about the size of a deck of cards has one feature that I love – a small LCD status display – that other portable hotspots lack. The LCD lets me know when I have a live connection both to their 4G network as well as its WiFi status. Other personal hotspots I’ve used consist of a single colored LED with blinking patterns acting as status indicators. Incredibly frustrating if you have any type of connectivity issue.
Before I left, I connected the NetZero to my laptop with the included USB cable to both charge it as well as to set up the WiFi network key. Once again, the NetZero plugs into the same tiny USB charging plug that works with my iPad. Good thing that I brought two!
So now I’m online with access to email and web browsing on my iPad with minimal setup. The NetZero even has an audio status option to signal you when you connect/disconnect. NetZero is unique in that they require neither a contract nor a commitement to use their network, you simply need to buy the HotSpot. They also offer two different connection speeds that you can configure via your online account:
LIghtspeed – up to 1 Mbit/sec
Warpspeed – up to 10 Mbit/sec
You can toggle between speeds as needed with about a 15 minute lag time for the change to take effect. In terms of pricing plans, it’s a la cart – you choose how much you need – and the monthly data plans are priced as follows:
|Plan Name||$/Month||Data Limit|
With no acitivcation fee and felxible data plans, the NetZero fits my user profile perfectly. I can now get online whenever I travel via my iPad or my laptop. Plus, I can share the connection with my peers in a group setting such as a conference room. My only gripe is the coverage of the NetZero 4G network. I’ve had success so far in San Diego, New York and Philadelphia but I hit a complete dead zone in the city of Worceseter, Massachusetts. If you’ve ever been to Worcester, however, that should not be too surprising. Before purchasing, check their coverage map to insure that your most-traveled-to locations are included.