3 MiFi review

The 3 MiFi is a neat concept that's taken on prominence in the Apple world ever since the iPad launched. The concept is fairly simple, it's a 3G dongle that creates a mobile Internet connection; but rather than connecting directly to your laptop, it creates its own WiFi hotspot that you log on to. Switch on the MiFi and pop it in your pocket and you have your own personal WiFi network, that comes around with you. It's perfect for getting your MacBook, iPod touch, and – and here's where it gets interesting – iPad WiFi online.

Because the iPad WiFi model went on sale in the US almost three months before the 3G model arrived in the UK, there a lot of iPad Wifi models that have been imported into the UK. This 3 MiFi is a means of turning an iPad WiFi into an iPad 3G. Even if you didn't pick up an iPad WiFi, the MiFi dongle is cheaper than the £100 premium you have to pay to upgrade from a WiFi iPad to a WiFi + 3G model, and the data deals are comparable. On top of that you can also use the device with your MacBook, and iPod touch, or any other device you might want to take online.

The 3 MiFi dongle

There are a wide range of data plans, and it can be fairly baffling. The key point is that the 3 deal is fairly comparable to those offered by O2 and Orange, if not particularly cheaper.

You can take out a rolling monthly contract that offers 5GB per month for £15, both Orange and O2 are only offering 3GB for the same amount; and Vodafone is charging £25 per month for 5GB of data.

If you take out an 18 month contract, you can get 1GB for £9.50 or 15GB for £22 per month.

There is also a  Pay As You Go plan whereby you pay a fairly hefty 30p per Mb (pretty stingy compared to O2's 5p per MB).The idea with Pay As You Go is to load up your account with cash, and then purchase add-on plans from the 3 Web site that offer 1GB, 3GB and 7GB blocks for £10, £15, and £25 respectively. Any data you use over this amount is charged at 30p per GB. The key advantage with Pay as you Go is that you can't go over an allotted limit, spending cash you don't have.

Like the iPad deals, the data has to be used within 30 days, which is something of a disappointment. And while the 1GB and 3GB deals match the O2 pricing, and the 7GB for £25 is actually a worse deal than the 10GB for £25 offered by Orange.

Although you save £50 or more by going down the MiFi route, we were rather hoping for a better data deals once we got out of the Apple ecosystem, but it would appear that the iPad data plans (with the exception of Vodafone) are competitive in the market.

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