Globe Telecom lent us their new toy — the mobile 3G router they call Globe MyFi. I’d like to share 10 things about the MyFi so you’re better informed about it before deciding to go and get one.
- The device is a branded version of the Huawei E5830 3G router. This is the same 3G router being sold by Three (3) telecom in Hong Kong since at least year ago (they call it 3 MiFi there). It has been available in the grey market and in online stores for Php7k to Php12k, depending on the source.
- The Globe MyFi works like the Globe Tattoo USB dongle with an additional WiFi router function. As such, you can also hook it up to the USB port of your PC or laptop as a 3G modem. The device comes with a similar software dialer too.
- The Huawei E5830 comes with a removable battery — a 1500mAh Li-Ion (almost identical to the battery of the Nokia E71 or E63). The battery lasts between 3 hours to 5 hours of use, depending on how many devices are connected and the usage pattern (downloading large files tend to eat up a lot more juice).
- The device has an LED display that serves as status indicator for WiFi connectivity, battery life, 3G (WAN availability), among others. To set it up, you’ll need to be connected to the WiFi and fire up your browser to 192.168.1.1 to get to the admin panel (here’s where you set the APN settings and the security protocols).
- You can get the MyFi from Globe two ways — get it with a Prepaid Kit for a one-time fee of Php7,000 or get a 2-year Postpaid Plan 499 or 999 and just add Php250 per month on top of your plan (makes Php6,000 in two years).
- The MyFi can serve up to 5 WiFi devices but can also be used as a 3G USB modem like most other existing 3G dongles (this allows you to conserve battery and charge it up at the same time). I think this hard limit prevents congesting the bandwidth of the single 3G connection.
- The device also has a microSD card slot that supports up to 32GB. However, you can only access the storage via a mini-USB cable and not over WiFi (would have been nice if it worked like a NAS or something).
- The biggest advantage with the MyFi is that you can freely position or place the 3G router anywhere you get the best 3G reception. You’re not restricted to a cable or anything. As an example, certain parts of my house don’t get good 3G signal so I just place the MyFi near the window and it gets HSDPA signal already (which it re-broadcasts via WiFi in the home).
- WiFi range is decent (802.11 b/g) and can easily do around 10 meters but degrades really quick against obstacles such as walls or doors. On battery, it saves up power by lowering the signal strength but will go full signal strength when plugged to an outlet or a USB port.
- Makes it really worth it if you carry multiple WiFi devices all the time — like a smartphone, an iPad WiFi and a laptop — so you only use a single unlimited data SIM for connectivity. Just don’t forget to get that Enegizer XPal portable power pack or have a USB car charger tucked in the glove compartment.
On the contrary, the Globe MyFi is still a bit on the expensive side (you need to have a really compelling use-case to justify it over a USB dongle). I think it’s mainly due to supply and demand. I remember those 3G USB dongles cost about Php3,995 when they first came out. Even that Sierra wireless card for PLDT WeRoam was selling for Php7,500 back then. I’m sure the price will eventually go down to more affordable levels.