Anyone use a MiFi device or 3G USB dongle with the MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by thelookingglass, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    I'm considering either the MiFi or a 3G USB dongle. Both have their pros and cons of course, but the USB dongle is appealing because it's one less device to charge. Only drawback is that the battery on the MBA would probably get sucked dry in a couple of hours.

    Just interested in some general feedback from folks on here who may have used either of the two.
  2. mario24601 macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    I use my Sprint mifi with my Air 13. Works well, not the fastest connection but does the job. I hear Clear or Verizon are faster but I have a old "true" unlimited plan so I have not changed my service. You can always carry a usb cable that will charge and tether the Air, that way you don't have to carry a wall charger also.

    On the same plan I also have a 598U dongle but have not tired it on the Air because I don't know if they have dial up software for Apple. If I try over next few days I will let you know. But I think the mifi works well. Let me know if you have any questions.
  3. BeyondtheTech macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2007
    Now that the Clear iSpot 4G has been "hacked" to allow non-iOS products, I might pick one up. In the meantime, I snagged an AT&T USBConnect Velocity on eBay for $20, so I'll be getting that sometime this week.
  4. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    We have a Sprint Overdrive, live & travel usually between their 4G cities and absolutely love it typically see 3-5MBps speeds.
  5. gonzoguy24 macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2010
    I use my rooted HTC Droid Incredible from Verizon. I know most of you have Iphones and are probably used to jail breaking but I basically have my android phone hacked to allow tethering for my air (for free). It is awesome to use as a little mifi. My Air gets great speeds but I have not tested it out yet. I love using it when I take the train into the city and have like 2 hours to kill. Pretty awesome :).
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I have a Verizon MiFi. I use it during my very frequent weekend trips... usually to areas with crappy service. Popular destinations are the coast and mountains... which will not get 4G for a long time.

    My wife and I typically use it for our two MacBook Airs... plus iPads. If our kids are visiting... they connect their laptops or iPads as well.

  7. jaeguyoon macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2010
    have the sprint overdrive as well. I live in a 4g area so I love it with the unlimited data. I use it as my sole source to get connected. I've never had issue with my 13inch air.
  8. mario24601 macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    Remember to double check your unlimited plan, most now are limited to 5GB, any over and they charge you extra.
  9. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    Old Sprint 3G yes, but w/their 4G devices, as of now, there's a 5GB cap on 3G data and unlimited on 4G.
  10. elwood58 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2010
    I use the AT&T Mercury USB device, and it seems to work just fine. I have Bootcamp with Windows 7, and run it on both sides of the system. Speeds are OK. The device is provided by my employer, so I use it sparingly. I have an iPad 3G unlimited for Media consumption while on the go.
  11. robby818 macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2007
    Virgin Mobile mifi in Los Angeles. I use it with my MBA and iPad. No contract, i just pay for 100 MB or unlimited it when I need it. Great so far. I bought mifi specifically for the flexibility to use it with different devices. Service was great in L.A. and Chicago. It only let me down in a trip to Alaska but that was somewhat expected.
  12. thelookingglass thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Thanks all for the responses. How do you feel about battery life for the MiFi? For those of you with a USB dongle, does it affect your MBA's battery pretty significantly? I would imagine the answer is yes?
  13. BeyondtheTech macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2007
    I had a USBConnect Mercury, but broke it when I sheathed an empty Micro-SIM adapter and yanked the damn pins out when trying to remove it.

    I'm getting the USBConnect Velocity today (super cheap, too... thank you eBay!), should be a lot easier to slip those adapters in and out without breaking.

    As for the power draw, it's not noticeable to me at all, and I usually turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth if need be.
  14. mario24601 macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    The batty on my Sprint mifi last about 2-3 hrs of heavy use...I would like those new 4G ones but the 5GB is not enough, I would go through that so fast...I think I use about 10GB per month.
  15. Murl macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2010
    I use MyWi 4.0 with the ipad and MBA, it works great. I usually USB it to the Air if I am just using it, or create a hotspot if I plan to use more than one device.
  16. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    I find the biggest problem depends on the drivers with the USB dongle or the application accompanying it. I have three 3G dongles: The venerable Huawei E220, a ZTE MF627 and a T-Mobile 150.

    Never had a problem with the first two, even after reflashing to unlock them. The latter is unusable under OSX as something in the driver/application causes the CPU to overheat.

    The software is also buggy and does not calculate data usage correctly, going from 0 to 2GB in seconds. I have tried it on various Apple hardware and always with the same result - fans at 6000rpm within minutes.

    I also use a Huawei E585 Mifi and that works well enough.
  17. Rob.G macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    I have the Verizon USB760 3G modem, and it works great in my MBA. I haven't tried it on battery only yet, so I have no idea how long it'll last.

  18. einmusiker macrumors 68030


    Apr 26, 2010
    Location: Location: Location:
    best combination is jailbroke iphone 4 with mba 11". small and portable and can do anything with a fast connection.
  19. thelookingglass thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    Yah, but then you're left with an iPhone with no juice after a couple of hours. No go ...
  20. willgreene99 macrumors regular


    Dec 16, 2010
    I use the Clear iSpot 4G, which I can charge through the usb port, if I also bring along my power cord. Otherwise, I can get around 4 hours of use before the iSpot battery is drained.

    Pros - no contract, monthly cost is only $25 (including tax and fees), good download speed (avg 5.5Mb), truly unlimited.

    Cons - Download is capped at 5Mb and upload is capped at 1Mb (real word is netting me around 800K up), Only works with Apple MAC addresses, but that has been solved. Moving through traffic or while traveling causes the connection to 'stall', it does not work good like a cell phone when switching from one tower to another. The equivalent of a dropped call.

    Device cost is $100, got mine for $29 when they had a sale. A good signal is very spotty, I would recommend you try out your iSpot where you think you will be most since you have a couple of weeks to test the service.

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