Back in August we introduced you to the Huawei E586 MiFi from the UK carrier Three. For the last week we have been testing out this neat piece of kit on Three’s super-fast HSPA+ network and we have to say that this is a serious alternative to home broadband.
In the UK it is hard to find a mobile broadband solution which delivers fast and reliable service, therefore most people opt for home broadband via their telephone line, could Huawei’s E586 MiFi and Three’s network team up to change this once and for all? Here’s our review.
Opening up the packaging reveals the MiFi unit and its battery, a mains plug with a USB port, two USB cables (1 x 17cm and 1 x 1.2m), a dock / cradle, the SIM card and all the paper work. The first thing we realised was just how small and light the E586 is, in fact you could keep it in your pocket without realising it is even in there. In terms of design the face of the MiFi unit is glossy, whilst the back and sides have a matte finish, also there is a small display which shows you signal strength etc and a microSD memory card slot for storage.
The first thing to do is insert the SIM card, simply pop off the back cover and remove the battery, here the SIM card slot is located. Once you have reinserted the battery and put the back cover back on you are ready to go, simply press the power button down for approximately 3 seconds and wait a few seconds and the MiFi will start up and automatically connect to Three’s network.
You can now connect your device(s) wirelessly to the MiFi, pressing the key button on the side of the MiFi reveals the SSID and WPA key. If you wish to change this you can, however during our tests we left the default WPA key and SSID. The Huawei E586 allows for up to 5 simultaneous connections and we had no problems connecting to the MiFi at any point, it is also worth knowing that you can also change many other settings by logging in to the MiFi via your web browser, however the standard settings are fine.
On the MiFi’s small display you can see lots of useful information, this includes battery level, connection status / strength, how much data you have used and how long you have been connected. During testing it took me over a day to use up 1GB of data, this is despite accessing YouTube, Spotify and other data-intensive websites / services. For £18.99 per month Three will give you a 15GB allowance, I think that this will be more than enough for the majority of consumers.
I tried out the MiFi at different times of day and in different locations within a 5 mile radius of my home, I did find that in the evenings connection speeds decreased, but most of the time I managed to experience 5 Mbps download speeds and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds. HSPA+ is said to support speeds of over three times this (21.6 Mbps down, 5.76 Mbps up) and I don’t doubt that in other areas Three’s network delivers speeds closer to this. My current home broadband provider only delivers 12 Mbps down and 0.8 Mbps up, therefore in a year or so we may see that mobile broadband is a better option that home broadband in certain areas.
One great thing about the Huawei E586 is the fact that it can deliver an internet connection to computers which don’t have WiFi connectivity, all of the required software is located on the MiFi unit, so simply plug it in via USB and run the installer, you will then have a new shortcut on your desktop which is your new portal to the worldwide web.
The E568 is said to 100 hours standby time, but we were more interested to see how much usage you could get from a single charge. I decided to turn off my home broadband for the day and instead only use the MiFi unit, during testing I constantly accessed the web on my laptop and also also connected my iPhone and BlackBerry to the network and used those for social networking etc, it lasted 5 and a half hours before the battery ran out, which I think is very impressive. The battery life isn’t greatly important to everyone as the MiFi can be charged over USB or via the mains, but it at least means that if for some reason you are without a power source it should last you pretty much a whole working day.
When using the Huawei E586 at home simply sit it in its dock and it will keep fully charged, it sits at an angle which allows you to easily see the display and doesn’t clutter up your desk. If you are going to use the MiFi unit when you are out and about it comes with a handy 17cm USB cable meaning that it can be easily charged by any computer with a USB port.
Throughout our tests we almost forgot that we were using mobile broadband, in fact during a few days of usage it only ever failed us once, for some reason it lost connectivity to the network, however turning it off and back on resolved the issue in a matter of seconds.
Before testing out the Huawei E586 MiFi on Three’s HSPA+ network I was a little sceptical as to whether it could really deliver a good enough service to suit a self-confessed technology geek, well I have to say that it delivered far beyond my expectations. Sites like YouTube worked fine and buffering wasn’t an issue, also the connection is reliable enough to assure you that you have a fast web connection with you no-matter where you go (97% national coverage), the only thing that I would say is that you have to be careful not to go over your monthly allowance as you will get charged 10.2p per MB used, this makes it unsuitable for online gaming etc. As Three’s network grows stronger we are sure that speeds should get faster and the decrease in connection speed during peak times should be less noticeable, if you are looking for cheap, fast and reliable mobile broadband you can’t go wrong with the Huawei E586 MiFi on Three.
You can head over to Three’s website to buy yourself the Huawei E586 MiFi here, there are lots of different pricing options available to suit different types of users and the unit is available in either white or black.
Below we have added some more photos from our hands-on review: