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MiFi 2200 review: Verizon’s multi-user mobile hotspot

June 18, 2009

in All Articles,Wi-Fi

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The MiFi 2200 gives you the ability to have your computer (or any WiFi-capable device) connect to the Internet using Verizon’s cellular data network. Put simply: get online from anywhere there’s a Verizon network. Yes, that includes the beach.

It’s very compact and simple: the MiFi 2200 is a small black box with a power button and a couple of status lights. It comes with a couple of cables for charging (required when the battery runs out) and directly connecting to a PC (optional for advanced usage, or giving Internet access to a PC without a wireless adapter).

Here’s how to use the Mifi 2200:

1) Turn it on

…and that’s about it.

Yes, you need to perform a one-time setup to tell your computer how to connect to the MiFi, but that setup is as simple as connecting to a wireless network anywhere else. Setup for me took literally thirty seconds.

There are other functionally similar setups, like “aircards”, other specialized PC cards, and cellphone tethering. These all allow you to connect your PC to the Internet, wherever you are. I personally use cellphone tethering to connect my laptop to the Internet when I want to – for example – head to the beach and browse the web.

The MiFi 2200 has a distinct advantage over the above connection types in that it allows you to share the Internet connection between several devices – up to five. Not just computers, either. We’re talking cellphones, MP3 players, video game systems, and anything else that can use a WiFi connection.

The MiFi marketing material (abridged by me) says it well. Here are some examples of how you can use the MiFi 2200:


Bring the MiFi 2200 on road trips and connect up to five Wi-Fi capable devices – like a notebook, netbook, portable gaming console, camera, and music player. Everyone can use their devices at the same time.

College Student

Working on a group project off-campus can be much more efficient (or at least more comfortable) using the MiFi 2200. Students can meet even if there is no Wi-Fi hotspot available, and can establish connections between notebooks and the MiFi 2200. They can even put a portable music player on the MiFi 2200 to download and listen to music while they study.


A construction company can set-up a MiFi 2200 at new job sites to allow up to five team members to stay Internet-connected.


After natural disasters, insurance specialists can use the MiFi 2200 to set up a temporary recovery site for teams at remote locations. Field workers can use the MiFi 2200 to share one connection between multiple notebooks. This saves from purchasing multiple data devices and eliminates the need for the agent to swap a data device from one notebook to another. Additionally, the MiFi 2200 helps mobility: agents can take pictures of damage with a Wi-Fi enabled camera, complete estimate forms on a notebook, and send results back to the main office to expedite the claims process.

Conferences / Tradeshows

For remote business conferences and trade shows, the MiFi 2200 equips travelers with a simple, shareable data connection. And they don’t have to fight for overloaded Wi-Fi hotspots.

Advanced functions

The above examples give pretty clear demonstrations of how the MiFi 2200 can be used, and what benefits there are beyond single-device connections and tethering. I also want to say a few words about the advanced administrator settings on the MiFi.

Yes, you can simply turn on the MiFi and connect to it. However, if you browse and log on to it (like you would to a wireless access point), you’ve got more functionality. The main screen looks like this, giving you information on Internet connectivity, battery level and signal strength:

Other screens include functions like:

Encryption settings: By default, the MiFi 2200 uses WPA encryption, requiring a password to use it (the default MiFi 2200 password is printed on the bottom of the device itself). But you can also set it up like a true “free hotspot”, where anyone can connect to it without passwords.

Wireless settings: Set your own preferred SSID, wireless channel, password, encryption type (WEP, WPA and WPA2) and protocol (Wireless B, G, or B+G).

IP settings: Change the IP address and subnet mask (the MiFi’s IP must be static. Since it doesn’t attach to any other private networks, DHCP is not available.) Turn on or off the built-in DHCP server, SSID broadcasting, VPN passthrough, port forwarding, and logging.

MiFi 2200 review conclusion

The MiFi is a cool device. I like it a lot, and am happy we have this new use for compact cellphone technology. As of this writing, I’m not aware of any devices like the MiFi. Or rather, you could get the same functionality elsewhere – maybe – but you’d have a mess of multiple devices and a complex setup for the average user. The MiFi is the first device I’m aware of that provides an easily-configured, small footprint, multi-device mobile hotspot. It’s a great new technology, and I’m happy and impressed with the MiFi 2200.

Would I personally use it? Yes and no: Per the price plans (see below), there is no “unlimited” data plan, which is what I’d need if I were to really crank on this device. I can see someone purchasing a MiFi and wanting it to do the usual hotspot work, and also replace their home ISP (particularly enticing for those still stuck on slower-speed Internet connections due to coverage, geography or other limitations). And true, the MiFi could do that. But with my job and hobbies, I personally push more than 5GB of bandwidth per month, and I don’t want overage charges.

However, as previously mentioned, I tether my cellphone when I want Internet capability on my laptop. I’d rather use the MiFi – I’d be able to get better coverage (Verizon is better than my current provider), I could share my connection with others, and I’d have my cellphone available for making calls. In this case, I would definitely consider the MiFi, and will recommend it to others in similar situations.

The summary: The MiFi is a great device for mobile, multi-device hotspot connectivity. In certain situations, it could even be used to replace home ISPs, and bring Internet connectivity to those who don’t have it.

The MiFi 2200 is available from Verizon Wireless for $100 with a two-year customer agreement. There are two plans:

$39.99 monthly access for 250 MB monthly allowance and $0.10 per megabyte overage
$59.99 monthly access with 5 GB monthly allowance and $.05 per megabyte overage

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