User-friendly touch-screen interface; Excellent battery life; Comfortable, attractive design; Strong LTE speeds
Limited Sprint 4G LTE service; Pricier than other hotspots
The $49 touch-enabled Netgear Zing Mobile Hotspot offers fast LTE speeds and impressive battery life.
With the Netgear Zing, also known as the AirCard 771S, Sprint now has its first mobile hotspot with a touch screen. Available for $49 after a $50 rebate, the tri-band Zing allows for 10 simultaneously connected devices over 4G LTE and packs an intuitive touch-enabled home screen that puts your network's important information front and center. However, with other hotspots available for next to nothing, is the Zing worth taking on the road?
DesignSprint MiFi 500 LTE (3.9 in x 2.4 in x 0.7 inches) but still slid comfortably into our pockets.
A silver ring of plastic wraps around the Zing. The bottom edge contains a microUSB port for charging, and an enclosed SIM card slot, while the power button sits on the top edge. The hotspot's 2500 mAh Li-ion battery can be removed easily by popping off the back panel.
We found the 4-ounce Zing comfortable to hold, thanks to the dark gray soft-touch material that makes up the device's front and back covers, as well as the slight incline from the hotspot's edge to its screen.
The Netgear Zing allows for up to 10 devices to be connected at once over 4G LTE, and users can monitor and block any connected products by tapping the Devices icon. The Wi-Fi menu allows hotspot users to enable guest Wi-Fi for visitors and change the device's network name and password.
Zing owners can change a variety of system settings, including screen brightness, network mode, sleep settings and GPS functionality. Users can also get a more detailed summary of their data usage by tapping the arrow on the main screen's data meter. If you prefer to monitor your connected devices from your smartphone, there is a free Netgear AirCard app for iOS, Android and Kindle.
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PerformanceAT&T MiFi Liberate (5.9 Mbps down / 4.7 Mbps up).
The Zing also performed well in our real-world test. We downloaded the 140MB OpenOffice installer in 3 minutes and 27 seconds. That's almost identical to the MiFi 500 LTE (3:26).
Sprint currently offers 4G LTE coverage in 151 areas in the United States, including major cities such as Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. We tested our Zing in Midtown Manhattan, though Sprint's website lists only the Bronx, Brooklyn, Flushing, Jamaica, Staten Island and Yonkers as New York's officially covered areas. You might want to opt for an AT&T or Verizon device if wide 4G LTE coverage is a priority.
The Zing can be purchased with a two-year contract for $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. Plans for the device start at $34.99 a month plus taxes and fees for 3GB of combined 3G and 4G data. The next step up is a $49.99 plan with 6GB of combined data, as well as a $79.99 plan with 12GB.
|Data Connection||4G LTE|
|Size||4.3 x 2.7 x 0.6 inches|