22 September 2016

REVIEW: Netgear AirCard 810 Mobile Hotspot

Hot stuff.

Without the internet, we suffer. Seriously, when we were camping this summer there were times when we almost jumped back into the car and sped home, simply so Twitter would load faster. Fortunately you have to be somewhere really remote (or be a Vodafone customer) to get poor mobile internet on your phone, but what about your laptop and tablet? Without a strong and secure WiFi network those gadgets are essentially expensive tea trays. You need the Netgear AirCard 810 Mobile Hotspot.

Take your WiFi router, scale it down to smaller than your phone, stick a battery in there to make it portable, and then include a SIM card port – that is what the Netgear AirCard 810 Mobile Hotspot basically is. Obviously, we're over-simplifying there, but in a nut shell this device allows you to use a mobile data SIM card to project a private WiFi hotspot.

But,” we hear you cry, “my phone can do that!” Well, yes it can, and that is just what we thought when the 810 arrived at our gaff. Although the chances are that your smartphone can indeed create a short-range WiFi hotspot, it can't do everything the Netgear AirCard 810 can. No way, bruv.

First of all, the 810 boasts a projected 4G LTE network with speeds of up to 600mps. It also features dual-band, having both 2.5 and 5GHz frequency capabilities. Your phone doesn't. Also, your phone's hotspot powers will be exceptionally limited by the number of devices that can connect to it, whereas this Netgear effort simultaneously supports up to 15. Party time.

But that is not all, as the device also has it's own screen. As well as being to monitor your data usage – in real time – you can also read text messages sent to that SIM card. This means that even if you use your regular SIM that you normally use in your phone, you can still keep on top of messages being sent to it, without having to take it out. Oh, and being able to see just how much data you are using at any given time is a God-send, especially if you have a limit to stay under.

Because the Netgear AirCard 810 Mobile Hotspot has a pretty meaty removable battery, it can keep the WiFi network pumping out for up to eleven hours on a single charge. But if you're just planning on using it for an hour or so here and there, it can stay on standby (“would you stay on standby...” good song, that) for 270 hours. Nice. And yes, all that extra power can be put to good use, as you can use the 810 as a portable power pack too.

Our advice would be to buy a separate SIM-only plan from a provider different to your phone operator. That way, with the Netgear AirCard 810 Mobile Hotspot in your bag, you're never going to be without the internet. Speeds and network access will always be dependant on your provider, but for people who travel a lot and still need to work wherever they might be, taking this with you will save a lot of hassle for you and for your travelling buddies.

Around £200

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