January 05, 2011, 10:10 AM — As 4G networks begin showing up in US cities, Novatel Wireless's Wi-Fi mobile hotspot remains the hottest product in personal mobile networking. Verizon, Virgin Mobile and AT&T are already selling them, and Sprint joined the party today with the announcement of a 3G/4G MiFi of its own.
Like the Overdrive mobile hotspot that Sprint already sells, Sprint's MiFi 4082 will receive cellular signal from either the Sprint 3G or 4G network, then form a small Wi-Fi network that can connect up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, including tablets, eReaders, laptops or gaming consoles.
But Sprint's will be the first MiFi from a major US carrier to support 4G, which gives it a big leg up on the MiFi's sold by other carriers. 4G technology is said to deliver download speeds up to ten times faster than 3G. That means far faster speeds for all devices connecting through the MiFi.
Sprint's MiFi is about the size of 5 or 6 credit cards stacked on top of one another. An external display on the front gives you the status of the battery, signal strength, as well as the number of connected devices. There's also a port for a MicroSD card in case you want to store up to 32MB of content on your mobile hotspot.
Novatel says the MiFi can support that connection for up to 4 hours (similar to previous MiFi versions), and stay charged for up to 60 hours of standby time.
Sprint's MiFi will go on sale February 27, and will retail for $49.99 (after a $50 mail-in rebate) if you buy it with a new service contract. The service contract—Sprint's 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Plan--costs $59.99 per month for unlimited 4G, and 5 GB of 3G.
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