Clearwire is offering a pay-as-you-go mobile hotspot called the Rover Puck as an alternative route to its 4G service. Aimed at consumers who don’t want to commit to (or can’t qualify for) a service contract, this very portable device lets you become a walking hotspot, sharing 4G Internet access with up to seven friends.
The catch is that you can use it only in Clearwire's WiMax service areas. I took it to an offsite staff meeting, but the building was not quite within range of the WiMax signal. The WiMax symbol (which resembles a martini glass) on the top of the disc flashes as the device seeks a signal, and stays solid when the Puck is connected to WiMax service. I walked about 20 feet from the meeting room and got a connection, but the WiMax indicator started flashing when I returned to the meeting. What’s more, the Puck doesn’t support 3G—and though Clear is ambitiously expanding its WiMax service, that service still doesn't reach some places I frequently go. But if you stick to WiMax turf, the Puck is a good and economical option.
About the same size as Clearwire's Clear Spot 4G, the $150 Puck connects to the same Clear WiMax network as other Clear 4G products, but it doesn't require a contract. In contrast, the Clear Spot 4G router costs $100 outright or you can lease it for $5 monthly, but it requires a contract of about $30 per month for unlimited use.
When we first heard about a dual-mode CDMA/GSM-capable mobile hotspot, we imagined a device that would play nice with foreign GSM networks on trips overseas. And this is true—if those networks are Verizon-contracted roaming networks. And if you are willing to pay a premium price to use them.
The age of hotspots
A mobile Wi-Fi hotspot is one of the easiest ways to bring mobile Internet service to a variety of portable devices. Since Wi-Fi is a universal standard built into almost every laptop, netbook, portable game player, tablet, and smartphone being manufactured today, a mobile hotspot makes the mobile Internet available just about everywhere to all of these devices, almost everywhere.
Booq, maker of premium bags for Apple notebooks and other gadgets, announced on Thursday an Apple-exclusive bag for commuters who want MacBook and iPad flexibility.
The new Mamba Shift M in denim is designed for the 13-15-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. But unlike Booq’s other Mamba bags, this model features thin pockets outside the main notebook compartment that fit the iPad and Apple’s Wireless Keyboard.
The Netcase from Mobilis is a sleek compact laptop case that doesn't disappoint when it comes to solid protection. Built around four high-density foam protectors that help cushion the top and bottom of your laptop, the Netcase feels like it could take a fair pounding, never mind withstand the rigors of daily travel.
The bag features two stretchy expandable external pockets that can accommodate your MacBook's power supply, but little else. A rubberized carry handle also does a respectable job, while a supplied shoulder strap should help lighten the load.
The Mobilis Skin protective cover (for laptops up to 17-inch) is a good compromise between protecting your investment and saving on weight and bulk. Slim and weighing in at just 1.21 pounds, the Skin uses a rigid screen protection system that promises to shield your laptop on your travels. In reality, the neoprene structure feels solid but lacks the additional security (and bulk and weight) offered by a more traditional laptop case.
The Slim is designed so you can use your laptop while still in the case; a modest use of Velcro and elasticated straps helping to keep everything in place. Four additionally padded areas on the base offer extra support on your desktop or your lap. Unzipped, the open design easily accommodates any power cord and peripherals. The compact, slim design means the Skin can be easily carried and stored in another bag and hidden away for safe keeping.
On our travels, the Slim proved a comfortable well-balanced carry, although the handles could use a little padding. The Skin is more functional than fashionable and includes a rather odd transparent window, which at least means you can flash your Apple logo on your laptop. For businesses, Mobilis provides a customizing service to add your own logo.