To connect to mobile 4G hotspots, you no longer need teams of road warriors playing musical chairs. Priced at an affordable $49.99 (with a two-year contract), the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless delivers blistering speeds and can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. But with other carriers ramping up their 4G networks, is the 4620L worth the two-year investment?
The MiFi 4620L's rectangular shape is similar to the Verizon 4G LTE MiFi 4510L. However, the MiFi 4620L forgoes the thick chrome band surrounding the top of the 4510L and replaces it with a black soft-touch rubber, which continues on the sides and tapers toward the bottom. We're also fans of the rounded edges that give the 4620L a more elegant look.
Instead of the 4510L's thin display strip, the 4620L has a 1.3 x 0.7-inch OLED display. That extra space comes in handy when cycling through menus and notifications via the dark chrome arrow buttons and the Select button.
We loved the addition of the navigation and select buttons but were annoyed that Novatel Wireless added a long, useless strip of chrome right next to the arrow buttons. However, we appreciate the decision to place the power button along the top right side of the hotspot, eliminating the possibility of accidentally turning the device on or off.
A port for attaching an antenna sits on the front of the hotspot, along with a microUSB port. There's also a status light that flashes purple when the MiFi 4620L has a 1X or 3G signal and green once it's located a 4G LTE signal. Unfortunately, the 4620L lacks a microSD card slot, such as with the AT&T Elevate 4G mobile hotspot, which would make it easy to share files among colleagues.
At 3.3 ounces and 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches, the 4620L is nice and slim. A chunky extended battery balloons the 4620L to 4.4 ounces and 3.7 x 2.3 x 1 inches, but we still could easily slip the hotspot into our pants pocket.
The MiFi 4620L's interface is straightforward, showing the network (4G or 3G), battery life, connected users and signal strength. While you can view information such as the network name and password, you can't change any settings on the device through the gadget itself; that can be done only through the hotspot's Web portal. Here users also can create individual Wi-Fi profiles with unique names and security protocols.
Verizon's 4G LTE network is available in 230 markets nationwide. That's almost two-thirds of the country. The 4620L's reach extends far beyond the United States, however. This global-ready device works in more than 200 countries. When not in a 4G LTE coverage area, the 4620L drops back to 3G and HSPA+ speeds.
By comparison, Sprint's 4G network covers 71 markets (it will begin rolling out its LTE coverage later this year), while AT&T's 4G LTE service can be found in 35 markets.
In addition to the larger display, the 4620L has received a few major improvements. Unlike the 4510L, the 4620L can broadcast a Wi-Fi signal and charge simultaneously when plugged into a notebook.
The Verizon Wireless 4G LTE MiFi 4620L can support up to 10 devices in 4G mode, double the capability of the 4510L. The 4620L also can support five devices in 3G mode. In our apartment we were able to connect the hotspot to the ASUS Zenbook UX31, an HP TouchSmart 600, our Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3 without any noticeable drop in speed.
In its 4G LTE coverage areas, Verizon claims download speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps. The 4620L lived up to those claims, delivering an average download speed of 9.3 Mbps on Speedtest.net near New York City's Madison Square Park. Upload speeds were equally solid at 8.5 Mbps. By comparison, the Sierra Wireless Overdrive Pro 3G/4G hotspot on Sprint's 4G network averaged download speeds of 9.8 Mbps and noticeably slower upload speeds of 1.4 Mbps.
When we moved to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, the 4620L performed even better: 11.4 Mbps down and 8.9 Mbps up.
Large File Downloads and Uploads
Downloading and uploading large files left much to be desired. In Madison Square Park, the hotspot took a patience-trying 6 minutes and 24 seconds to download a 151MB Open Office file. Uploading the same file to Dropbox took 8:23. The device had a moment of redemption in Union Square, downloading the file in 3:23. Uploading continued to be a point of consternation, taking 9:07 to complete the transfer.
With the 4620L connected to the ASUS Zenbook UX31, we achieved relatively fast, consistent Web page load times. For example, we loaded CNN.com, NYTimes.com and ESPN.com in 5.2, 4.5 and 9.2 seconds, respectively, in Madison Square Park, and 5.6/5.2/9.1 in Union Square. Loading Laptopmag.com showed the greatest difference, taking 8.2 seconds in Union Square and 10.4 seconds in Madison Square Park.
Novatel Wireless claims the Verizon Wireless Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L will get up to five hours of battery life. During a day of Web surfing, watching video, light word processing and playing "Bastion," the 4620L delivered 4.5 hours of life before shutting down. When we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous web surfing), the 4620L lasted 3:57.
We were able to get 7 hours and 32 minutes out of the optional extended battery. Verizon has yet to announce the battery's price, but we're guessing it will be in the $40-$50 range.
Data Plans and Value
The 4620L is currently available on Verizon Wireless' website for $49.99 with a two-year contract. Consumers can choose between a $50 monthly 5GB data plan and the $80 monthly 10GB plan. Verizon will charge you a $10 fee for each additional GB you go over your limit. Over two years, consumers who go with the $50 plan will pay $1,249, while the 10GB plan will cost a total of $1,969. AT&T offers only a 5GB plan for its mobile hotspots.
Verizon Wireless' $49.99 Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L delivers strong speeds, the ability to share with 10 devices and the added bonus of global capability for world travelers. We especially like the informative screen. Some may lament the lack of a microSD card slot, but if you're on Verizon, this is the mobile hotspot to get.