Jumat, 29 Oktober 2010
Verizon Wireless Fivespot
Design and Setup
The Fivespot measures 3.9 by 2.1 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.8 ounces. The front panel is made of glossy black plastic with a metallic red accent stripe down the side. The rubberized back panel keeps it still on a table surface. The Fivespot is a little thicker than the MiFi in your pocket, but it's not as wide, and the tapered edges make it easier to hold. The Fivespot features a power switch on the side, and an informative LED arrangement on the front panel that convey power, battery, 3G, and connection status.
Holding down the Fivespot's power button for three seconds turns it on; holding it down for 10 seconds turns it off. In addition to the included U.S. adapter and USB cable, Verizon put three additional power adapters in the box in order to cover some of the most common plugs in other countries.The first time you use the Fivespot, you must plug it in via USB; this will auto-install the drivers and set up VZAccess Manager, which lets you manage the device from here on out. After that, connecting is as simple as joining the Fivespot's secure Wi-Fi network and entering the appropriate password. I had no problem setting up VZAccess manager on an 18.4-inch, Core i7 Toshiba laptop.
There are two US-based data plans for the Fivespot: 250MB for $40 per month, or 5GB for $60 per month. Overage fees run 10 cents and 5 cents per megabyte, respectively. Verizon also offers four prepaid options ranging from $15 to $80. Sadly, these all have time limits that expire from within one to 30 days, which limits their appeal.
International connectivity is the Fivespot's real draw, of course. The Fivespot works at 3G speeds both here in the U.S. and overseas, but it'll cost you a staggering $130 per month for 100MB or $220 per month for 200MB. A GlobalAccess Pay Per Use Plan is available for occasional travelers that ranges from $2 per megabyte in Canada and $5 in Mexico, to $20 per megabyte for any of 200 countries overseas.
Those prices are competitive with Sprint, but that doesn't lessen the blow. On top of their high monthly rates, both plans have a $5-per-megabyte overage fee. Think about that; a refresh of the New York Times home page averages 1MB. Want to see it in a cafe in Barcelona? That will be five bucks, please—oh, and another five bucks to read an article. Ouch.
Performance and Conclusions
For this review, I tested the Fivespot back-to-back with Verizon's MiFi 2200 in northeastern Massachusetts. I connected to the Fivespot using the SSID and password on the bottom. Soon after, I was off and running on two laptops: the aforementioned Toshiba machine and a 13-inch MacBook Pro.
The Fivespot supports 802.11 b/g connections with WPA-TKIP, WPA2-AES, and WEP encryption levels; the default from the factory is set to WPA. The hotspot's Web-based administration page can be accessed at 192.168.0.1. It offers plenty of configuration options, including basic SSID name and encryption level, to more advanced firewall settings such as MAC address filtering, port forwarding, and DHCP lease times. There are no parental controls or VPN configuration at the router level. Still, I tested Cisco VPN (Mac) and Shrewsoft (PC) individual clients; both ran without issue.
When I was close to the Fivespot, Verizon download speeds stayed relatively consistent in the 700 to 1100 Kbps range on DSLreports.com, while averaging 300 milliseconds of latency. The hotspot's range was surprisingly solid; I was able to walk up to 80 feet away from the Fivespot before speeds began to drop even a little. A Speedtest.net test at 110 feet, with my entire house in between the laptop and the modem, showed a drop to about 300 Kbps down and 370 Kbps up.
Subjectively, it was tough to tell the difference between the Fivespot and Verizon's MiFi, as Verizon's network is much slower than Wi-Fi anyway. In use, the Fivespot gets warm, but not oppressively so. Battery life was a little weak, though; with two laptops working on and off on the Web, the Fivespot lasted 3 hours and 25 minutes on a charge.
For frequent business travelers with deep pockets, the Fivespot is worth a look. But Verizon's global roaming data plans just don't make sense to anyone using more than a few sips of data. Most travelers should look for Wi-Fi hotspots or consider renting a MiFi from Xcom Global, which offers unlimited use for $15/day. Domestic travelers should stick with the MiFi on Verizon, Sprint, or our favorite, the Virgin Mobile MiFi ($149). Virgin Mobile serves up unlimited 3G Internet in the states for just $40 per month, with no contract required.