Internode last month introduced the Mifi in Australia.
Mifi is a personal, portable, 3G mobile broadband Wifi access point. It allows for up to 5 devices to connect over Wifi at the same time, and the battery should last for 4 hours. It’s an easy and fast solution for setting up a personal Wifi bubble, without fiddling with software on your laptop or phone. The Internode Mifi comes unlocked, so you can slip in any telco’s SIM card.
I’ve had a Mifi for a couple of months now (from eBay), and it’s a great little device. My iPhone is on Optus and the Mifi has a Vodafone SIM, and I have to say, I’ve gotten better and faster connections on the Mifi (aka Vodafone network) then on my iPhone (aka Optus). For example, inside at a conference in Darling Harbour I’d only get GPRS on Optus, but 3G speeds on Vodafone. It’s a great little travel device. It also has a micro SDHC slot for instant file sharing between the connected devices.
But one drawback is it’s USB connection. First of, when connected on USB to your laptop, it switches off Wifi and acts as a regular modem. What’s up with that? Because then you can’t share your connection anymore (unless you set up your laptop as access point, but it kinda defeats the point). Also, you need the right USB cable, because else it will power the device but it won’t recharge the battery! I didn’t know there was that big a difference in cables, but one time while travelling I didn’t have the right cable with me and while I could plug it into the mains power and use it, it wouldn’t recharge the battery and I couldn’t use it when being mobile.
Currently I’m on a 24m contract on Vodafone (5Gb – $41) which is about to run out, after which I probably go for a 12 month prepaid (12GB – $150; I certainly didn’t use up 12GB per year on contract).
And in light of the Apple iPad release, I’m still undecided to get the Wifi+3G version, or just the Wifi version. The 3G iPad will use a micro SIM, which means you can’t just pop in your current SIM. But with the Mifi, if need be, I can still get online over mobile broadband. Unfortunatly, the GPS is only available on the 3G version, and I love location-based apps.
EDIT: Alternatively, you can also get the (cheaper) Huawei Mobile Wifi device over at Expansys AU.