What is a MiFi?, Portable Wi-Fi hotspot, Mi-Fi devices advantages & disadvantages

The Mi-Fi is a portable wireless router that can act as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, The MiFi device enables you to share a broadband Internet connection amongst many devices, this is around five devices, although sometimes it can be up to ten, These include phones, computers, and tablets, MiFis are small and lightweight, which makes them ideal for travel.

What is Mi-Fi?

The name ‘MiFi’ was trademarked by the original inventor of the device and comes from the expression ‘My Wi-Fi’, It is pronounced ‘my-Fi’, Other names for this device are a portable Wi-Fi modem, pocket Wi-Fi, or portable wireless hotspot, Although smartphone mobile hotspots can be used to access the internet while you’re traveling, they are not as fast as MiFi hotspots, Smartphone-based mobile hotspots are not as reliable and fast as MiFi hotspots.

There are many types of Mi-Fi hotspots on the market, Some are tiny, portable devices that are supported by different cellular carriers that broadcast 3G signals or 4G signals, Some Mi-Fi hotspots are plug & play devices, they are also known as Wi-Fi dongles, Wi-Fi hotspots or mobile hotspots allow users to easily connect to multiple iPhones, iPads, PCs, and many other devices, they are easier to operate than USB dongles or smartphone mobile hotspots, and do not require any software support.

Mi-Fi devices

Mi-Fi devices

How a MiFi Works

Many MiFi devices are very easy to operate, The MiFi comes with an internal slot for the data SIM card, You can insert this SIM card yourself, Then you simply power on the MiFi, and it automatically creates a Wi-Fi network, Now you connect to that Wi-Fi network the same way as you’d connect to any other Wi-Fi network through the Wi-Fi settings on your device, (The MiFi will have a preset Wi-Fi network name and password, This information is usually located under the battery).

The MiFi device runs off an internal rechargeable battery that will usually last for about 4 hours of active use before it needs to be recharged, For most MiFi devices, it is possible to buy spare batteries if you like to exchange them as one becomes flat, you can keep the device charging from either the USB port of a laptop or a portable external battery.

Like the smartphone, if you’re traveling internationally, your MiFi will need to be network unlocked to use it in another country with a different phone network provider, If you’re traveling internationally with your own device, it’s a good idea to check if it is network-locked at least a week before you leave as it can sometimes take several days to organize an unlock code.

Advantages of MiFi hotspots

MiFi hotspots can connect with multiple devices, so, they’re more useful than the other on the go internet solutions, MiFi hotspot allows you to avoid the use of cellphone data, It can save your cellphone’s battery, It can safely tether to more than one device, It can work for extended periods without losing the internet connection, you can use your cellphone while the MiFi hotspot allows you to access the internet on your laptop.

You don’t need to connect your MiFi device to your computer or laptop via a USB port, The MiFi device works on wireless signals and when it is connected to the mobile data (3G or 4G), the signal will be transmitted to various devices, This is useful for devices like the iPad that does not have a USB port.

The Mi-Fi dongle does not require any software to be downloaded, which increases the convenience and ease-of-use of the device, All you need to do is locate the wireless network and enter the password, The MiFi device offers high internet speed and using a 4G connection will give you higher speeds when compared to 3G.

More than one internet device can be connected by using your MiFi device, when you want to use more than a single device, such as your laptop & your phone, which becomes difficult unless you have a wireless connection, MiFi is the best solution for groups of people such as students or colleagues who need the internet for group work or for people who want to connect many devices to the internet at the same time.

MiFi devices will work when you have a power outage, unlike your home Wi-Fi, as the Mi-Fi device operates on batteries that can be recharged, You can store data on certain Mi-Fi devices, you can get more storage space by using an SD card (MiFi devices that support SD cards) with the MiFi unit, The MiFi device is very practical & can be easily carried in your pocket, this device is an essential piece of technology for anyone who believes in teleworking.

You do not need to unlock your phone, If your phone network is locked under contract to a service provider, you can purchase a local prepaid mobile broadband SIM card to use with an unlocked MiFi device, so, you can access mobile broadband on your phone through the portable hotspot created by the MiFi device, This saves your phone network unlocking.

You can easily share an Internet connection amongst several different users, You can do this without the need to set up the tethering option on your phone, This way save your phone’s battery life, It also means that your traveling companions don’t all have to pay separately to access the hotel Wi-Fi, Using the MiFi can save money, It enables you to have Internet access anywhere you travel with a device that doesn’t have a SIM card slot such as a Wi-Fi-only tablet.

Using a MiFi allows you to find free or paid Wi-Fi everywhere you go, it can be more economical than paying for Wi-Fi access as you travel, or in places that charge high rates for Internet access, such as hotels, Some travelers choose to increase the data allowance on their MiFi plan when they travel and reduce it when they return home.

You can use the Wi-Fi network that the MiFi device creates to transfer files from one device to another, So, you can have a file on your smartphone and transfer it to your tablet or other devices using the Wi-Fi network created by your MiFi device, This technique is useful for transferring large files like movies or folders full of documents, You don’t need to be connected to the Internet to do this, so, you can remote from somewhere that doesn’t have Internet access and wirelessly move files from one device to another.

You can use a MiFi to adopt a multi-network strategy, Some travelers choose a different phone carrier for their MiFi than that which they’re using on their smartphones, if you go somewhere that doesn’t have good network coverage or data speeds for the carrier used for your smartphone, you can use your MiFi data plan and share that data with your smartphone.

Disadvantages of MiFi hotspots

The only drawback of MiFi hotspots is that the speed of the internet connection depends on the cellular data signal strength when multiple devices use the same MiFi hotspot, internet speed can be reduced, Portable hotspots such as MiFi hotspots require power to operate, Depending on the number of devices you’ve connected and the overall usage, the battery may get drained rapidly.

When you are traveling overseas, you will have to change the settings of the MiFi for each different country you travel to because the MiFi needs its internal software settings to be adjusted to communicate with different phone carriers, Changing the settings of a MiFi usually requires you to connect the MiFi device directly to a Mac or PC, It is a process that may be challenging for someone that is not technology literate.

The batteries in MiFi devices only give a few hours of constant use before needing a recharge, (However you can connect them to the same types of batteries you use to recharge your phone), A MiFi is another expensive gadget that you have to carry and look after.

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