My device of 2013: EE’s 4G Huawei MiFI hotspot

I’ve been meaning to get this one blogged for a little while. I was giving some thought over the Christmas period to my best device of 2013. (And I should point out: Although I’ve used the word ‘device’, I also mean the accompanying service.)

EE’s 4G service has been nothing short of phenomenal. I’ve been testing out their service courtesy of the Huawei E589 MiFi unit they sent me back in late 2012. 

I was momentarily concerned by the size of the E589. It’s huge — for a MiFi — and there’s no replaceable battery. A problem, you might think, if like me, you’re accustomed to your MiFi units working for 60 minutes before running out of battery. I used to keep multiple batteries for my old MiFI units to help keep me connected when I really needed it.

The E589 feels like at least double, if not 2.5 times the size of the old MiFi devices I used to have. For good reason, though. I’ve routinely been able to get almost a full day of use out of the E589. It’s the first MiFi I’ve ever used that I’ve used as set out in the press releases — i.e. a ‘personal hotspot’. 

For quite a while — at least half a year — I used the E589 together with EE’s service (more on that in a moment) to connect two iPhones, a Sony Xperia Z and an iPad (and sometimes a MacBook).

So fast and so reliable was the 4G service from EE in the areas that I worked, it was ridiculous for me to bother with the Vodafone connectivity from the iPhones. Even my 3 connection — usually the fastest — was left in the dust. 

Of course things have changed in the market now that the other operators have launched their 4G offerings. Still, EE is way ahead. They’ve activated more areas than anyone else so far and I do feel that their experience knocking out the kinks back in late 2012 has meant I’ve been able to depend on their super-fast connectivity without any exceptions at all. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been failed by their connectivity or speed.

So good is the connectivity that I’ve been able to watch Netflix for the first 20 minutes of my train journey out of Waterloo. That was amazing back in 2012 when everyone else was lucky enough to get a pointless ‘E’ signal from their operator. It’s still hugely impressive. 

Many developers I know operate at peak efficiency throughout London thanks to their trusty E589s on EE giving them a desktop-class internet service wherever they are. (The only problem is if your client’s office is in a bit of a rubbish area for connectivity!)

And the fact that I am still regularly using my E589 when I’m staying in hotels in London really illustrates that the long running saga of decent hotel WiFi is still a total arse. 

Which is why I do take a lot of confidence from the fact I’ve got EE’s E589 in my bag. You never know when you actually need decent, super-fast connectivity — or, more often than not, when someone you’re working with needs to get their own machine connected.

If you’re a true road warrior and you’re regularly frequenting the (growing) areas already activated by for EE 4G (see: EE coverage checker) then I strongly, strongly recommend both the E589 and EE.

Everything in green is activated for EE 4G already:

Screenshot 2014 01 27 19 40 53

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