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If you're like most people, you probably spend a great deal of time away from your home Wi-Fi network. Free open Wi-Fi networks can be few and far between these days so if you have an iPod touch, a MacBook, or even an iPhone this can be inconvenient to say the least. There are solutions available to help (like the MiFi 2200) but if you already have a USB 3G modem or a phone that supports tethering, there's no reason to pay twice for data access.
The Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot can take your existing 3G device and create a personal WiFi hotspot to connect other devices to the Internet. The CradlePoint is a compact, rechargable-battery powered Wi-Fi router. The device works with practically any USB modem or tethered cell phone. We tested our PHS300 with a Sprint Sierra Wireless Compass 597 USB 3G dongle. We plugged it in and the CradlePoint automatically recognized our device and created a WiFi hotspot. No additional software is required to use or access the CradlePoint, which is administered via a web interface like a standard router.
Security can be as simple as a password or more advanced using WEP/WPA/WPA2 security. The replaceable Li-ion battery can pump out a Wi-Fi signal for a little more than three hours. It can also run off AC power, with or without a battery connected. A case ($15), extra batteries ($25), and car power adapter($25) are available as optional accessories.
The form-factor was a bit cumbersome, with the USB modem hanging out of the side, but certainly not a deal-breaker. And we definitely like the ability to change cellular providers or 3G devices without having to buy a new Wi-Fi device. Cradlepoint frequently updates the firmware, so it works with a growing number of 3G modems and cell phones. We're still waiting for AT&T's mythical tethering plan to materialize, so no word yet on iPhone compatibility.
If you already own a 3G USB modem or a cell phone that can be tethered, then the CradlePoint might be a better solution than the MiFi 2200 and it's data plan. Turning your existing 3G connection into your own portable WiFi hotspot is priceless – get yourself (or a car-load of friends) online quickly and easily.
COMPANY: Cradlepoint, Inc.
REQUIREMENTS: Needs your existing 3G connection; Any Mac with Airport
Portable. Good battery life. Share your connection with multiple devices. Uses your existing 3G USB modem or tethered cell phone. Easy setup. Extra batteries available.
No ethernet port. Cumbersome in some cases. Case and car charger sold separately.