I have been using the Novatel Wireless MiFi Liberate since January and have been meaning to write a review since. For anyone who does not know a MiFi is a personal wireless hotspot, meaning a user can create their own network or wifi area wherever they are if AT&T service is available.
This Liberate is a snazzy little MiFi with a touchscreen and a surprisingly usable UI. It’s not fancy but it gets most of the job done. The Liberate is slim with a battery the size of a roll of pennies on one side. The rest of it is mostly flat, take a look at the picture. I like that I can fiddle with so many of the settings on the MiFi itself versus having to use a computer.
It has a Micro SD card slot for a memory card, my unit came with a 2GB card preinstalled. So what is this good for you ask??? Well it’s great if you’re meeting with someone, you can upload files to the SD card and they can access them. Additionally if you have kids in the car and they have a smartphone or tablet (or a laptop for that matter) they can access the card. Imagine you have a 32GB memory card filled with movies in the MiFi, they could be occupied for hours watching.
I think most importantly and the reason anyone gets this kind of device is it connects the user to the internet. It’s on AT&T’s 4G LTE network which makes it super fast, I was able to get speeds that peaked at 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up. More importantly I typically get over 20Mbps down and 7Mbps up, that’s every day all day. I’ve been able to have VOIP and video calls over it with Phone.com and Skype and the calls sound like they’re on a wired HD desktop phone, it’s amazing. If you keep a secret and don’t tell the Novatel folks I’ll admit that a friend of mine didn’t realize she was connected to my MiFi versus the hotel wifi and from her hotel room 2 rooms over through the walls she streamed NetFlix for over 2 hours. When I found out in the morning she told me it did not buffer even once.
By the way, battery life on the Liberate is phenomenal, longer than any wireless hotspot I’ve ever used before. I’ve had it last the entire day for me more than once. The internet went out in an office I work at sometimes and all the employees and I were huddled around my MiFi working that day. It was taking a beating for more than five hours and it kept going strong.
Ok so I have one single annoying feature on this device and I hope Novatel will fix it with a software update or at the very least fix this in future devices. So here it is… drum roll please… I can’t stand that every time I press the power button even for just a moment the unit powers up if it was off. Yes, I know how petty and silly that sounds but I’m a forgetful guy and I use the Liberate regularly. I like to be able to press the power button and see that it’s turned off. My suggestion to Novatel is that they make the MiFi so you have to hold the power button for 3 seconds before it powers on. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit waiting for it to turn on just so I can turn it back off.
That’s it, it’s a minor complaint for a rather useful and well built wireless hotspot. If you can live with the power button problem then I highly recommend this MiFi because of it’s battery, UI and speed.