I recently purchased the Sprint Overdrive mobile hotspot so I could use my iPad and/or laptop where I had no Internet connection. The Overdrive is a 4G/3G device that is small enough to put in a shirt pocket. I got it at a local Best Buy for $49.95 on a two year contract. I have to hand it to Best Buy and Sprint: the purchase and activation process is much easier and smoother now than used to be.
I live in the Richmond, Virginia area and did not think the 4G service was available, however, I found out that it is. The device connects to the 4G network pretty much everywhere I go except for…my house. That’s OK, though, I still have Comcast High Speed Internet at home. I was told that the 4G service is not officially operational until the end of the month. I have not verified that with Sprint.
The speed is reasonably fast, when connected to 4G it ‘feels’ faster than it does on the 3G but not quite as fast as my Comcast connection. Pages load fairly quick at any rate.
The device required a firmware update which went smooth and pretty quick as well. It was supposed to improve performance and stability. Since I have nothing to compare that to, I am going to guess that it does. The update took about 15 minutes.
Sprint’s data plan is not cheap, but I think it is worth it. For 3G, you are capped at 5gb a month but, however, for the 4G service it is ‘truly’ unlimited. We will see about that.
The Overdrive itself features a tiny color LCD screen that shows the status of your connection, the amount of data you’ve consumed since turning on the device, battery life remaining and whether or not you have any messages. It has a micro SD card slot which accepts up to 32gb cards. The cards can then be shared amongst the five connected machines. It also chirps when a device connects and when itself connects or disconnects.
One interesting thing I noted while using the device is that it can get warm, not hot, but warm. I noticed it when it was using the 3G network more so than the 4G network. Don’t know why.
One other thing I noted with my iPad, and it might be related to the WiFi issues that iPad supposedly has, is that if I use the Overdrive where there are OTHER hotspots, the iPad gets confused. It will disconnect randomly and, sometimes, just refuses to connect and, when that happens, you have to turn off the iPad and restart it for the WiFi to work again. Really odd.
Overall, the Overdrive is a pretty nice little device. When purchased from Best Buy, it is well worth the fifty bucks. It makes having the WiFi only iPad even more useful. If you need a portable hotspot and don’t mind Sprint, this is the way to go.