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Rover Puck REVIEW – 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot

by Sean P. Aune | January 23, 2011January 23, 2011 3:30 pm PDT

The market is getting flooded with mobile hotspot devices, and this Rover Puck Review aims to help you see if it’s the one for you.

Back in Dec. we showed you an unboxing of the Rover Puck 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.  Shortly after that we were heading to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and that was a great opportunity to really put the device through its paces.  I took the Rover Puck as my mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for the week as I needed 4G, and while it generally performed well, there were a few shortcomings.

The Rover Puck runs on the Clearwire WiMAX 4G network, and where it has coverage, it works like a charm.  Almost everywhere I attempted to use the device it quickly got a signal that varied anywhere from 4 to 6 Mbps down and about 1.5 Mbps up.  The only place I had a real issue getting service, and I can’t blame the device for this, was when I was deep inside The Venetian hotel, and at that point no one was getting good signals on anything.

I used the device for everything, from e-mail to streaming video in the evenings in my hotel room.  It handled everything like a champ with nary a drop out.  However, I spent a night at the Kansas City Airport Marriott for one night after CES, and there I did have two occasions of a very brief blip in service.  In the Rover’s defense, the coverage map actually showed I shouldn’t have service at all, so I can’t really argue with those brief loses of signal.

That leads to one of the biggest drawbacks, and that is the lack of a 3G fallback on this device.  Unless you are in a Clearwire area, you aren’t going to get coverage with this device.  Now that I am back in my little town in Missouri, I have an attractive paperweight.  If you live and/or travel to cities they blanket with service, I give them a thumbs up, but if you live outside of a coverage area, I would say this is a definite “pass”.

The physical design is attractive, albeit a little big.  It measures 4.25-inches across, and weighs just a little over a pound, so while its not heavy, when you add it to all the other gear you may be carrying with you, it just adds to all that.  It sells for $149.99, but it has no contract.  You can pay $5 for a day of unlimited data, $20 for a week and $50 for a month, so if you don’t need it for a month, no worries, just throw it in a drawer and don’t pay for it.  Going away for a weekend?  Buy three days for $15.  You can choose how and when you pay, which is great for people who travel a lot.  As an added bonus, you can also connect up to eight devices to the Puck at once, so if you’re traveling with a family, you should be all set.

Overall I recommend the device, but if you live in a small town such as I do, it just isn’t worth it unfortunately.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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