11 March 2017

REVIEW: Cellhire

Overseas connections.

Some of you might already be aware that Test Pit Towers, the nerve-centre and home of this very website, is located in York, UK. Whereas usually we receive tech and gadgets from across the globe to review, play with, and – often – break, sometimes we get things from 'just down the road', such as when we review speakers and headphones from York-based Damson. This article will be similar, as the company we're taking a look at is also headquartered in York. However, to test their services we've travelled hundreds of miles to another country. We're checking out Cellhire.

This post is being written in a hotel room in Brussels, Belgium. We're here filming the city for a forthcoming YouTube video, but while away from home we obviously need to stay connected to the internet. That isn't a worry most of the time, especially if your hotel has decent WiFi, but walking around a foreign city using your mobile data will cost you. Big time. Data roaming is very expensive, and it seems the UK will soon, thanks to Brexit, miss out on the proposed EU scrapping of roaming charges across the continent. So what do you do if you want to stay connected but don't want a huge bill when you get back home? You talk to Cellhire.

Cellhire lease international SIM cards, phones, and portable WiFi hotspot devices on a daily or monthly basis, with a choice of data size limits. For example, we're in Belgium so we needed a European SIM card, and had that bundled together with a Huawei MiFi Router, with a 10GB download limit. Once in Brussels we simply switched the device on, waited for it to connect to the strongest available network signal – regardless of what network it was – and connected our phones and laptops to the WiFi network it broadcasts. Depending on the network strength and speed, you'll be enjoying 4G in no time.

Which is exactly what we're enjoying right now to upload this review. The Huawei MiFi (called, interestingly, the E5577Cs-321 MiFi Router) isn't Celhire's product, just a model that they use for the service. And they've picked a good one, as it is small, compact, robust (it's spending the weekend banging about in the bottom of a bag as we dash about Brussels), and projects a strong signal. It is easy to use, too: you really do just switch it on a wait a few seconds for the mobile signal to be detected. That's it. The WiFi is password protected (the password is displayed on the unit's screen) and up to ten separate devices can connect at any one time. So bloody brilliant for families where each member wants to be online at the same time.

That also means it is perfect for business trips, especially if you're an employer travelling with a group of colleagues who need to get together for meetings, or for offering WiFi when at a trade conference or show. The more people you have connecting to it and using the signal, the cheaper overall it is per person.

After a couple of days in Brussels it has never let us down. If we happened to be in an area where the currently connected network was weak, it automatically switched to one that was stronger. After trekking about the whole of the city we never once lost a 4G connection, which is something that our UK mobile operator (cough-Vodafone-cough) couldn't manage back in York.

There are a lot of options to choose from on the Cellhire site, and most countries and world regions are covered. The ability to pick your data allowance, as well as whether of not you want a MiFi device included or just have the SIM card, is also handy, allowing you to tailor the package to what you actually want and need. Oh, and they also send you a return envelope, so once you're home and finished with it, you can pop it all back in the post to them. Done deal.

If you're travelling, be it alone, with you family, a group of friends, or a whole company, Cellhire's services could end up saving you all a fortune in roaming charges. Check them out. In fact, why not to come to York as well and spend all your money on the many tourist attractions and local businesses.

Not that we're biased, or owt.

© The Test Pit

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