The new device (a Huawei E585) adds a number of refinements intended to address criticisms of the original – most notably an OLED screen with text displaying status information and one button operation. On the inside it adds browser-based configuration, replacing the (PC only) software required previously.
Need to Know
- It’s identically-sized to the original but switches to a matt black front and metallic back finish.
- Charging is now via micro-USB (handy because that’s what handsets have standardised on).
- The battery is the same as before running the device for the same time, but charging is around 30% quicker and can now be done during use.
- The original three buttons (power, 3G and WiFi) are replaced with a single one which glows when the it’s on (the screen times-out to conserve power).
- Pricing is unchanged, making it available from £49 on pre-pay.
- It now automatically reconnects when the signal is lost.
- The screen displays connection status, number of connected clients, data usage (per session) and SMS notifications.
- The device still only operates on 3G and won’t drop down to 2G in poor coverage areas (none of 3′s broadband dongles do).
The original MiFi devices will soon be upgradable too adding some of the new device’s features, such as one button operation. There are no firm details on availability, but 3 staff are using it now.
Not just a device…
Almost in passing at the end of the event, the 3 product manager mentioned that 3 stores would be willing to help customers setup their MiFi devices and, for example, laptop connections. Although clearly not a formal arrangement (3′s shop staff are not going to solve any serious problems for you) this is an interesting step towards emulating Apple’s Genius Bar approach to in-store support – something which we first heard discussed at a 3 event over a year ago.
We’ll be watching closely, but this could be a significant step in both promoting devices like the MiFi to customers who may be intimidated by the technical details and repair their reputation for giving poor customer support from their overseas call centres.
Image credits: Ben Smith and Steve Kennedy