With more mobile broadband adapters popping up in the market, it can be difficult to decide which one might work best for you. If you need Wi-Fi on the go, there are already two major options out there, and if you don’t care about the pricing of service, how does the actual equipment for the MiFi and Sprint Overdrive stack up against one another?
I already gave a positive review to the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 on its own merits, but how does it stack up against the other big mobile Wi-Fi device, the Sprint Overdrive? Before you ask how this is a fair fight, the MiFi is branded as Virgin Mobile, but it works off of the Sprint network for its mobile service, so while the devices were branded differently, they were connecting on the same network.
I ran both devices in a restaurant free of any Wi-Fi networks so I would get a real world environment, and a signal free of any other possible Wi-Fi interference. While it’s nice to run tests in a lab, you and I don’t do our work in labs, we do it on the go, and that’s where we want the information from. Both devices connected to a Wi-Fi version of the iPad and speed tests were run on the Speedtest X application which uses a 10000 kb file for testing.
First up was the MiFi 2200. From the time I turned it on to connection was approximately 15 seconds. While it lacks any sort of display, the green LED lets you know its connected, and it’s simple to see and understand. I ran the speedtest with the app, and while it wasn’t exactly blazing speeds, it averaged 540.34 kbs and took 151.609 seconds.
Next up was the Sprint Overdrive. It took close to 45 seconds to connect, but unlike the MiFi there is a clear screen on the face of the device that shows you what is happening with the device. Once connected I re-initiated the test and … a snail passed me. True this device will do both 3G and 4G, and I was only connected at 3G, but it averaged 237.17 kbs and took 345.399 seconds to complete the test, more than double the time of the MiFi, and less than half the speed.
Physically, the Overdrive has the nice screen, but it feels bulkier while also being more fragile to the touch. On the other hand, the MiFi feels like you could play street hockey with it while it was also transmitting a Wi-Fi signal.
While it’s true the Overdrive will also give you 4G coverage, the number of cities that is offered in is limited, if you’re travelling you will be far more likely to run into 3G coverage.
In short, if you live in a town with 4G, go with the Overdrive, but if you are going to be travelling with no certainty of coverage style, I’d go with the MiFi in a heartbeat.