REVIEW: Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586)

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Name: Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586)

Type: Portable personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £84.99 with 3GB of data/ Free on 18 month tariff at £10.87 per month with 1GB data allowance/ Free on 24 month tariff at £18.99 a month with 15GB data allowance

review-line.JPGThree’s latest MiFi personal Wi-Fi hotspot certainly is a looker, and with newly-added HSPA+ connectivity, makes some bold claims when it comes to mobile broadband speeds. Can it deliver superfast downloads when out on the road, or will a standard dongle offer similar results? Read on to find out.
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If you’re even remotely interested in consumer technology (if you aren’t, God only know swhat you’re doing on this site) chances are that you don’t leave the house without several web-enabled devices. From smartphones to games consoles, e-readers to tablets to laptops, if it’s got a battery in it, chances are it can connect to the web these days. However, when it comes to mobile broadband, keeping each of these devices connected can be expensive.

Here’s where Three’s MiFi range comes in. Small, pebble-shaped devices weighing just 90 grams, they’re portable, pocketable, battery-powered Wi-Fi hotspots that connect to Three’s mobile network and let multiple devices connect to the internet at once, wherever you may be.

On the upside, you’re likely to save plenty of dough using a MiFi as you only have to shell out for one tariff every month. In the past, the downside however has been that connection speeds can get a little shoddy when split across multiple devices.

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Three’s latest MiFi, the E586, more-or-less sidesteps the issue of speed by being the first device to offer a HSPA+ connection. In theory, this gives you download speeds as fast as 21.6Mbps and upload speeds of 5.76Mbps. This, in theory, makes it far more attractive than a regular dongle’s 7.2Mbps max download speed.

Great in theory, but how about in practice? Nowhere near as fast, but not too shabby either. In areas of strong signal we regularly topped speeds of 8Mbps, which just wouldn’t be possible on a standard dongle, averaging out at 5 or 6Mbps elsewhere. This extra speed boost made connecting multiple devices for simultaneous usage far less of a pain too, making this MiFi kit a real work tool for teams needing reliable web access when out of the office.

Those looking to use the MiFi in a professional capacity will be pleased to hear the many security features built in here too. Though you can easily just pop in the supplied SIM-card and battery, switch on and connect your devices using the SSID/password card, those looking for extra protection can visit http://3.home in their browsers and tweak settings like WPA2-PSK and AES TKIP WPA encryption. You can also use this page to send and receive messages using the MiFi, though the practical application of this feature is limited.

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Three still suffer from intermittent coverage blackspots (like, annoyingly, the area of our Central London office specifically where I sit it would seem) but it was very impressive just how often it picked up a HSPA+ connection when out around town. Of course London is likely to have better coverage than more rural spots, so double-check with a coverage tracking site to before a purchase, but even with a standard 3G mobile broadband connection the dongle performed well.

As we alluded to earlier, the new MiFi looks pretty snazzy too. Available in black or white, a small but clear OLED screen shows info on signal strength, connection type, connected devices (as many as five at a time), connection status, messages, battery level, total data usage and roaming state. Charging over USB (or using a supplied cradle) the USB connection can also be used to access the microSD slot on the side of the MiFi (card not included) potentially turning the unit into a portable 32GB drive too. Overall, battery life is excellent too, managing 5.5 hours of heavy usage and as much as 100 hours on standby from a single charge.

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Verdict:

Without the HSPA+ capabilities, Three’s latest MiFi hotspot would still be a stylish mobile broadband unit capable of reliable, on-the-go connectivity. With HSPA+, and with the flexible tariff system Three have in place, it becomes a genuinely viable alternative to a fixed broadband connection for light internet users. Three still suffer from the odd blackspot, but if you’re lucky enough to be within range of a HSPA+ connection here, it’s a genuinely excellent bit of kit.

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4/5

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Gerald Lynch

24 comments

  • There shit ive been offline more than online these past 3 months I was told it was good signal in my area but the masst it picks signal up from is constantly congestioned up to the extent were its lagging to the point of frustration 3 continue to say there upgrading the masst to hold more connections but they havent done a thing as of yet, its suppised to run at 21.6 MBPS I did a speed check it ran at 0.56 MBPS pile of shite I will be canceling my contract I advise anyone reading not to bother with this waste if money

  • There shit ive been offline more than online these past 3 months I was told it was good signal in my area but the masst it picks signal up from is constantly congestioned up to the extent were its lagging to the point of frustration 3 continue to say there upgrading the masst to hold more connections but they havent done a thing as of yet, its suppised to run at 21.6 MBPS I did a speed check it ran at 0.56 MBPS pile of shite I will be canceling my contract I advise anyone reading not to bother with this waste if money

  • Just want everyone to know I bought the 18 month 15.98 per month dongle stick, i thought i was getting a good deal and expected it to be super fast, but i am wrong, it sucks, worse than the vodaphone i had before, i even live at a high location on a hilltop without any obstruction around the aerial, in one of the major top 10 cities, and the signal’s still crap, that doesn’t say much about 3, it must be even worse in small towns and rural! No I wouldn’t recommend them at all. I can hardly open more than 3 tabs simultaneously without being cut off all the time, and having to reconnect! very very annoying!

  • Just want everyone to know I bought the 18 month 15.98 per month dongle stick, i thought i was getting a good deal and expected it to be super fast, but i am wrong, it sucks, worse than the vodaphone i had before, i even live at a high location on a hilltop without any obstruction around the aerial, in one of the major top 10 cities, and the signal's still crap, that doesn't say much about 3, it must be even worse in small towns and rural! No I wouldn't recommend them at all. I can hardly open more than 3 tabs simultaneously without being cut off all the time, and having to reconnect! very very annoying!

  • looks pretty much like a rehash of the manufacturers sales pitch. almost certainly, this reviewer hasn,t been any closer to the mifi than my dead grandmother.
    this is NOT a review

  • looks pretty much like a rehash of the manufacturers sales pitch. almost certainly, this reviewer hasn,t been any closer to the mifi than my dead grandmother.this is NOT a review

  • how can i connect this my d link hub …. which can connect 3g wifi devices like  this one
    i plugged it in but nthng hpnt … 🙁
    ny idea
    my isp is viva kuwait

  • how can i connect this my d link hub …. which can connect 3g wifi devices like  this onei plugged it in but nthng hpnt … :(ny ideamy isp is viva kuwait

  • The E586 can be unlocked at http://www.unlocked-dongle.co….

    The Three UK version of the E586 only works with 2100Mhz frequency so if you are going outside Europe make sure the network operator supports 2100Mhz otherwise you won't get a 3G connection

  • 3, the ideal of a father: I want three children, were named the Ctrl, Alt and Delete, if they do not listen, I knock them about as long as both will be good … …

  • If you want share the mobile wifi all over the world. Just consider an unlocked e586 mifi from mobile2wifi.co.uk . It will support T-mobile as well.

  • Nice post. My friend John told me about this blog some weeks ago but this is the first time I’m visting. I’ll undoubtedly be back.

  • How could north face jackets be a professional jacket? The name of north face jackets comes from that in the north Hemisphere, the north slope is the coldest and is covered the the deepest ice and snow, which consider as the most difficult to climb.

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