Okay, I bought my MiFi on Thursday.
Originally Posted by whmurray
The in-store experience was easy and quick. The card was treated like any phone upgrade. I was charged $150- but received a coupon for a $50- mail-in rebate. As with any upgrade, my existing Verizon number was un-assigned from my existing embedded WWAN card in my Dell and re-assigned to the MiFi card.
In the car, I installed the battery and using the provided macro-to-micro USB cord, I plugged it into the 12V power supply of the car using my 12V ("cigar-lighter") to USB adapter. No car charger is provided.
At the hotel, I followed the the instructions to plug into the computer. In order to activate the MiFi, one must first install it as a WWAN device on a computer. Since I was on the road, I only had one choice of computer which happened to have software for an embedded Verizon card and a USB Sprint card on it. The installation software did not like this and I had some problems. (Of course, there really was a warning about this, in very fine print, in the instruction sheet. Always read the fine print.) When first plugged in, the device looks to the computer as a USB storage device and is assigned a drive name. The software comes on the device. If auto-run is enabled (not recommended), it will simply install; if not, one must click on the filename (VZAccess Manager.exe) when the drive folder box pops up.
The SSID and the password are on a label on the back for the device. Go to network connections and select the device from among any other WiFi devices in the neighborhood. (In post-Katrina CBD New Orleans, one sees tens of access points.) You will be prompted for the password. It is long and in tiny print. I mis-entered it several times. Finally used "paste." However, the good part is that once entered on a given computer, one is never prompted for it again. Magic!
Connection to the device is pretty much automatic and persistent. I left the room with it and when I returned the computer seemed not to have even missed it. It is at least as easy to use as any other secure access point.
Now we get to the good part. After all, this thread is about by-passing the "steaming pile of failure." Once the password is entered the first time, the iPhone remembers it and chooses it just like your home LAN.
I watched TV via Slingplayer from LGA to home. Had to reconnect Slingplayer on the Westchester border but anyone who lives here will tell you that that border is notorious for dropped calls.
Skype and TruPhone work with the usual iPhone limitations (e.g. no Bluetooth). These were the two applications most likely to be connection sensitive. All data applications work over this connection as over any WiFi, i.e., better than they do over GPRS.
Another benefit is that I use a number of applications including iClickr, Air Mouse, Air Share, and Remote that require that the iPhone and target PC be in the same LAN. For the most part, they worked only at home. While I might sometimes be able to log both devices to the same access point, it was usually more trouble than it was worth. Now that I carry my own LAN with me, these things work as seamlessly on the road as at home.
I remember that when I was a Treo user, I spent years waiting for successive exclusive contracts between and Palm and Sprint to end only to see them renewed. It may be that be that the contract between Apple and AT&T will end and then some carrier will give us the kind of seamless and unrestricted interoperability that the technology permits and that would add so much value. If not, or in the meantime, I now have a work-around that I can live with.
Yes, I am taking a lot of network load off of AT&T. Though it was not their explicit intention, they benefit. Though it was not my specific intention, I can live with it. If enough of us employ this by-pass, maybe the rest of you will get marginally better service.
Yes, I do pay a second carrier sixty dollars a month in order to get the service that AT&T refuses to provide but this was always about the service and never about the money. (I was paying that to connect one laptop; for the same price, I can now bypass that mess on the floor.) If AT&T were customer focused, they could have had the money.
End of rant, end of thread.