For road warriors, relying on the goodwill of others to provide you with reliable internet access is a risky proposition. Sure, many cell phones can be used as Wi-Fi hotspots but that too can often be hit or miss. Enter the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L by ZTE.
With an MSRP of $19.99 (with a two-year contract) the Jetpack 890L sports super-fast 4G LTE data speeds. We tested the Jetpack 890L in the San Francisco Bay Area including South San Francisco and Oakland and routinely achieved download speeds around 5 Mbps and upload speeds upwards of 3 Mbps.
Of course, the speed of your particular connection is dependent upon the strength of your cellular connection. For instance, when using the device as a mobile hotspot on the San Francisco Bay Ferry (in the middle of the Bay) even though we were connected our speeds were dramatically slower.
Even though the Jetpack 890L is offered by Verizon Wireless it's a world device. According to Verizon the mobile hotspot will work in more than 200 countries with more than 125 of those countries offering 3G speeds. In those countries that don't support 3G speeds the Jetpack 890L boasts quad-band EDGE and HSPA support. This means that international users won't enjoy the speed that those of us in the States experience.
The device itself is pretty bulky, especially when compared to other mobile hotspots. It's 3.5 by 3.5 inches and a little more than a half-an-inch thick. That said, this isn't really gonna be that much of an issue since you're just gonna throw it in a bag.
The Jetpack 890L rocks a removable 1700mAh battery but we were pretty disappointed with the overall battery life. In our tests we routinely got about four hours of battery life. On the upside, the Jetpack 890L can operate while it's charging and you can also connect it to your laptop via the included micro USB cable.
Verizon boasts that the Jetpack 890L has a range of around 100 but things started to drop off for us at about 80 feet. Of course, being a mobile device this shouldn't be a problem as the thing can pretty easily go with you.
Again on the hardware side we were bummed that the Jetpack 890L doesn't have a MicroSD slot. So there's no using the device as a shared drive between devices.
Speaking of devices the Jetpack 890L can support up to 10 devices simultaneously. This number drops to five when not in 4G LTE mode. Setting up your connection is super easy with the Jetpack 890L. We charged it, fired it up, and within seconds our mobile hotspot was alive and kicking. Every mobile device we threw at it had no trouble finding it: Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, iPad, laptops and cellphones.
We were easily able to customize the network settings (firewall, router, WAN, security and Wi-Fi settings) using Verizon's web-based interface. While the web-based interface was easy the 1.5-inch black and white OLED status display on the device itself leaves a lot to be desired. There's a simple status display on the front that has three physical buttons below it. That said, navigating around the Jetpack's UI is pretty awful. Fortunately, once everything is up and running you won't have to muck around in the UI much.
Of course, the UI displays things like the name of the network as well as the default password. The password is also printed on a sticker on the bottom of the device. As for physical buttons there's a power switch and a reset button and the micro USB charging port is also right there.
While Verizon's 4G LTE network is super-fast and pretty much available everywhere in the States the pricing structure is complicated, expensive and unlimited data isn't an option. Data plans for the Jetpack 890L start at 5GB for $50 a month or 10GB for $80. As TechRadar has mentioned before Verizon doesn't offer unlimited data plans so hardcore web users will want to be careful about their usage. Watch a couple of TV shows on Hulu Plus, Netflix or stream some football games on NFL Sunday Ticket and you're done. Verizon offers additional data at $10 per GB so at least you won't have to worry about overages.
The overall performance of Verizon's 4G LTE network was great. We maintained a reliable connection, and had pretty good 4G download speeds. The jetpack is slick looking, and it's easy to toss in your bag on your way out the door. The fact that it connects with up 10 devices is also pretty generous.
Connecting 10 devices is where the generosity ends, as usual Verizon's data plans are pretty miserly. The lack of an unlimited options means we're forever watching the clock as we surf and watch web videos. We also wish the battery life was better. The fact that it's removable helps, but a bigger cell would make it a more reliable device. Also, that UI could use some real work.
If you need a reliable Wi-Fi hotspot that's super fast in the States but also works in more than 200 countries you'll no doubt be pleased with the Jetpack 890L 4G LTE. Of course, the lack of an unlimited data option may be a deal-breaker for many power users. Folks who already have unlimited data plans on their cell phones, via T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, may be better served to just use their mobile phones as Wi-FI hotspots.