Voiamo's GlobalGig Mobile Hotspot is as simple as it gets. It doesn't come with a touch screen, an SD Card slot or any additional characteristics beyond what you see on its face. However, the GlobalGig hotspot offers one feature you won't get with related devices: the ability to surf the Web from anywhere in the world without roaming costs. Is the GlobalGig worth passing on flashier devices from competing carriers? Read on to find out.
Click to EnlargeGlobalGig's mobile hotspot sports a black glossy finish and is almost small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It feels extremely lightweight, but the smooth exterior easily shows fingerprint smudges.
Manufactured by ZTE, the GlobalGig is plain with the exception of a power button along its side and a battery indicator on its face. This battery symbol flashes green when the device is charging and glows a solid green when it's full. There are two more icons above the battery indicator: one for 2G coverage and another for 3G. One of these symbols will begin to glow once you connect to the Internet, depending on which service is available. The bottom houses a USB port for charging, which you can either plug into an outlet or a computer.
Measuring 2.3 x 4 x 0.6 inches, this 2.8-ounce hotspot slips into your purse or pocket with ease.
Click to EnlargeThe GlobalGig Mobile Hotspot works on Sprint's data network in the U.S. While 3G may not be as speedy as 4G, Sprint's 3G network covers nearly all of the U.S.
Overseas, the GlobalGig works only in the United Kingdom and Australia, but Voiamo vows to expand coverage soon. U.K. users will be covered under mobile carrier Three's network, and devices in Australia will operate on Optus' network. The company says that Ireland, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark will be added by March 13.
Although it only works in a handful of countries at the moment, the GlobalGig hotspot can operate on a variety of networks, including CDMA and EVDO (800 and 1900MHz); GSM, GPRS and EDGE (850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz); and WCDMA, HSDPA and HSUPA (900 and 1900MHz).
Plans and Value
Click to EnlargeVoiamo boasts that its GlobalGig hotspot will work in any country that has service, and the monthly fees remain the same no matter where you are. The device costs $99 without a contract and is free if you sign an 18-month contract with Voiamo. The company offers four data plans: 1GB of data costs $17 per month, 2GB is $25 per month, 5GB will run you $45 per month and 10 GB costs $80 per month. Once this contract is up, Voiamo charges a $5 monthly service fee in addition to whichever plan you choose. If you go over those limits, the company charges 5 cents per additional MB.
Comparatively, AT&T's MiFi Liberate sells for $49.99 with a two-year data plan on contract. From there, 5GB of data costs $50 month, with international data charges an additional $0.0195 per KB.
Click to EnlargeThe GlobalGig Mobile Hotspot's signal was consistent throughout our testing, but never very fast, especially compared with 4G and LTE-enabled hotspots. Using Speedtest.net, we measured the hotspot's 3G network throughput in two New York locations: inside our offices in the Flatiron District (5th Avenue and 20th Street) and in Astoria, Queens.
GlobalGig's average download rate during our Manhattan test was 360 Kbps. The average upload speed from inside our offices clocked in slightly higher at 440 Kbps. The GlobalGig produced slightly better results during our test in Queens, with an average download and upload speed of 700 Kbps.
By comparison, when we tested the AT&T MiFi Liberate in New York, it averaged 5.9 Mbps downloads and 4.7 Mbps uploads in our office.
The GlobalGig hotspot can connect up to five users at the same time, which is half that of other hotspots, such as the AT&T MiFi Liberate. Of course, with 3G speeds, connecting more than one device at a time will slow your surfing to a crawl.
Large File Downloads
Downloading the 130 MB OpenOffice file for Windows took 40 minutes and 47 seconds in our Manhattan office. By comparison, the average hotspot -- most of which use faster 4G or LTE connections -- takes 7 minutes and 15 seconds to perform this task. Once again, GlobalGig's mobile hotspot performed similarly in Queens, taking 46 minutes and 40 seconds to download the 159 MB OpenOffice install file for OS X.
Click to EnlargeGlobalGig's hotspot was inconsistent when it came to loading Web pages. On average, it took 9.5 seconds to load CNN.com from our office, 10.3 seconds to load NBCNews.com, 7 seconds to load Bing.com and 6.15 seconds to load Laptopmag.com. While streaming a video on Hulu, our average speeds changed to 5.3 seconds for CNN.com, 12.8 seconds for NBCNews.com, 4 seconds for Bing.com and 8.8 seconds for Laptopmag.com.
The GlobalGig was slightly faster when we surfed the Web in Queens. It took an average of 4.8 seconds to load CNN.com, 11 seconds to load NBCNews.com, 8.6 seconds to load Bing.com and 2.8 seconds to load Laptopmag.com. While streaming Hulu, it took 5.9 seconds on average to load CNN.com, 9 seconds to load NBCNews.com, 3.3 seconds to load Bing.com and 2.8 seconds to load Laptopmag.com.
GlobalGig's hotspot works while it's plugged into a notebook via USB, which is a good thing considering its anemic battery life. During our LAPTOP Battery Test, the GlobalGig Mobile Hotspot lasted 2 hours and 39 minutes, which is way below the 6:05 category average.
Click to EnlargeVoiamo's GlobalGig Mobile Hotspot offers a cheap alternative to international data roaming costs, but it ultimately doesn't offer that much of a bargain over other hotspots that provide much longer battery life and 4G LTE support in the U.S. Once GlobalGig's coverage extends beyond a handful of countries, it might be worth a look, but overall, we would recommend that travelers rent the longer-lasting MiFi from Xcom Global when they travel.