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Thread: Notes on T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot (ZTE MF61)

  1. #1
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    Notes on T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot (ZTE MF61)

    1. Wanted it for broadband at home.
    2. Vs dsl, cable, other cards, etc, this was the 'best' for bandwidth, data cap, etc. $30/month for 1GB at 4G speeds, then rate limited but free thereafter.
    Pretty much covers the basics of viewing 20+ news and info sites a day, email, and some video viewing.
    3. Easy, quick setup for rep. out of box. So simple, you can do it yourself, but wait a few minutes and he'll activate sim, drop in battery and cover, and you're ready to head out.
    4. Nice screen, boots and shutsdown in a dozen seconds or so- nothing slower than most phones. Nice clear display, easy to read and understand. Nice body-upscale and rich feel, lightweight and shirt pocketable w/o drag.
    5. Comes on wpa and password in battery compartment, easy enough to change to wpa2, aes. Settings for channels, encryptions, ssid broadcast, basic firewall, etc. Enough to protect the device from the usual drive by hackers.
    6. First day. 1 bar in house, 4g mode, Speed Test 55ms, 1.61mbps, 0.15 mbps. 2 bar area, 45ms, 2.80mbps, 0.84mbps.
    Easily performing well out of box and if the house and location were better, I'd easily expect it to run faster with a full set of bars.
    wifi range from kitchen just barely reaches across living room to master bed room on same floor with 1mpbs wifi g connecting at above 1bar speeds. (which works fine for me)
    Pages like engadget and dpreview load up fast in a few seconds, never more than five. Snappy for what it is and easy replacement for basic dsl or cable, imo.
    Have seen it go to sleep on its own- no timer settings, so no documented idea when it'll do so with no activity. Will have to test later. Also, still figuring out sleep mode. Wps button press didn't wake it as it should-display showed no cellular connection. Had to cycle power to get it up again. Will have to test how it sleeps and how to wake it up.
    Otherwise, no biggy since a quick power cycle works.
    Basic video works. Tests in store with 4-6mbps usb stick and full bar connection on 4g showed no problems streaming 720p, but stop and go with 1080. Will have to test more later, but mbps posted above at home shows signal strength limits video resolution.

    Basically, nice prepaid wifo hotspot with 4g fast enough to toss away basic dsl for travellers and home users that want a mobile internet device. No problems with iphone 3gs and another two computers on it at once. Easy to setup admin settings. Works! =)

  2. #2
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    1. Time out is about 15 minutes before unit goes to sleep. Simply pressing the WAKE (WPS) button is all you need to do. Thus, no real need to shut the unit off.
    2. Nice side effect. Better 3G for the phone!
    Used to get mostly Edge in the house, with some 3G spots (only 1-2 bars).
    Day after getting this hotspot home, phone gets 4-5 bars 3G all the time. :]
    3. No issues with the hotspot yet. recommended!

  3. #3
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    10 day mini T-Mobile Mobile Hotspot Review

    SW BD_MF61V1.0.0B07

    HW MF61-1.0.0

    Purchasing

    1. Bought it at 92683 for use inside a 1-story home to replace aging 56Kb modem with Earthlink, which has worked flawlessly for 10+ years (no connection, billing or other issues).



    + Nice in-store rep. in the T-Mo store (not 3rd party).

    + Nice layout of phones, etc.

    + Described clearly, allowed to play with 4G on laptop for a few minutes to test Youtube, Yahoo, etc. for transfer rates.

    + Got about ~6Mbps on full bars on 4G in the store.

    + Easy checkout - clerk did everything and item was ready to use walking out of store in about ten minutes.

    + Clerk use another data card from the SIM drawer rather than realize? that there was one it the box. My benefit - got one activated data SIM card, one unactivated data SIM card for $0.

    - Didn't explain that text messages ?!? would arrive in the hotspot (and they do not scroll or display on the OLED display at all! Just an indicator icon of number of messages) and you SHOULD read them by logging into the Hotspot Admin console.

    DUMBEST thing ever! Esp. for a device that's supposed to be easy to use.

    - Had to get the clerk to price match T-Mobile's online prepaid pricing that was lower!

    Store (left) hand isn't talking to the company's (right) hand. Sigh....

    Please, 1 (one) pricing w/o asking regardless of whether I enter a corporate store or do it online!!!

    Speed

    1. Very nice, solid connection even down to one WiFi bar, which is about a small kitchen, living room, and bedroom away from the Hotspot. At 1Mbps 802.11G mode at that distance, but still, decent 4G speeds. Much like regular 1Mbps or so DSL (slow allocation). Pages like Engadget come up in about ~16 seconds in Firefox 4.0 for comparison (a bandwidth heavy site which would normally take 6+ Minutes to load on a 56Kb modem).



    With PC right next to Hotspot using 802.11G only WiFi, SpeedTest results:

    + 1 Bar 4G - 55ms/1.61Mbps/0.15Mbps

    + 2 Bar 4G - 45ms/2.80Mbps/0.84Mbps

    And naturally, more bars on 4G = faster.

    For comparison, 3G Nuron SpeedTest's at:

    + 5-6 Bar 3G - 201ms/0.66Mbps/0.29Mbps

    + 5-6 Bar EDGE - 417ms/0.15Mbps/0.05Mbps

    Connectivity

    1. Sadly, this is one of two areas it failed to serve well. The Hotspot drops connection when the PC has gone to SLEEP/HIBERNATE when you're on break, even though you did not turn it off and the Hotspot is connected to AC! Restoring requires a FULL POWER CYCLE off then on again!

    To reproduce:

    A. Connect power to AC, then to Hotspot.

    B. Power up Hotspot.

    C. Wait for 4G icon to appear, Wifi icon to show 0 connected devices.

    D. Power up PC or iPhone, connect to Hotspot. Now Hotpsot Wifi shows 1 connected device.

    E. Set sleep timer on PC to activate in a few minutes - walk away for coffee etc to let it do so, or if laptop, close lid and let it hibernate. Now, WiFi connection to Hotspot from PC is off.

    Here, you are simply 'taking a short 15 minute break' and naturally, if a PC's set to hibernate/sleep after a few minutes, it'll turn off the WiFi.

    F. Come back. Press Power then WPS as instructed by manual to 'wake up' the Hotspot to reenable WiFi.

    Display will show WiFi with an X (instead of a number counting number of connected devices); 4G icon will be missing (ie. not connected to 4G network at all).



    VARIOUS button presses of Power and/or WPS WILL NOT RESTORE the WiFi connection or 4G connection AT ALL!!!! ONLY A FULL POWER CYCLE (Off then On) will RESTORE it.

    TERRIBLE! My 56Kb connection can be on for 5+ HOURS w/o ever disconnecting! A coffee break with T-Mobile Hotspot = a dead connection!!

    Billing (Prepaid)

    1. Sadly, bad point #2 is the failure of the prepaid online website to work correctly when the data runs out.

    Yesterday, minutes ran out. No idea at all at first - going to www.yahoo.com kept bringing up my.t-mobile.com. Finally, reading through the manual, got to the text message area and logged into the Hotspot to check. Text message said 1GB has run out (after 10 days of web surfing www.yahoo.com and other non-video sites, watching 2-3 youtube 5-10 minute videos, and a few app downloads on the iPhone).

    ODDLY, all printed handouts I got from the sales rep. showed after reaching the 5GB limit, the download speeds would be throttled. Would be nice if they CLEARLY stated EvERYWHERE that the prepaid 1GB limit is a HARD LIMIT which will result in termination of service, unlike the T-Mobile UK Wireless Pointer hotspot which provides 1GB with a SOFT LIMIT which will only result in slower bandwidth once 1GB is Exceeded.

    Ok, so went to register an account as requested. Took 5 tries using two browsers (IE & Firefox) before the silly circling wait icon would disappear in short order and go to the billing page. (Yes, waited for 10+ minutes after entering registratioin info and nothing happened first 4 times.)

    Billing takes to a 3rd party site and allows credit, check, prepaid card.

    Take the obvious and easiest - credit.

    FAILED TO AUTHORIZE! 3x for a perfectly 100% credit limit not even near exceeded $25000 card that has no problems making all sorts of purchases same day and next over 56Kb on other sites like Amazon.com.

    P$$$ED!!

    Pricing

    1. Horrible vs. T-Mobile UK Wireless Pointer.

    USA Hotspot $129 vs. UK Wireless Pointer GBP 59 (~$95 USD) = 37% more expensive!

    1GB Data Prepaid USA $30 with hard data limit vs 1GB Data Prepaid UK GBP 15 (~$24) = 25% more expensive! (and that's not even considering the soft UK data overage limit.)

    3 STRIKES! despite excellent 4G speeds, and the 4G Mobile Hotspot is returned in exchange for ol' DSL (another story, if it doesn't work well, we'll switch to something else....).

    Basically, a fine devices that works well as long as you don't let the WiFi counter sit a 0 for more than about 15 minutes, at which time you'll likely need to power cycle the unit to restore connectivity (even though you never pressed the power button to turn it off). WPS button per manual does nothing to resolve this (yes, did check to make sure both buttons worked by making changes to the admin console, then pressing both power and wps button for 3 seconds for a full settings restore to default). ;

  4. #4
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    if you already have T-Mobile service then just pay $32 for a 2gb then throttled limit or 39.99 for 5gb then throttled

    and since you already had the device all they had to do was activate the EM+ No Contract plan so you could cancel anytime, then no more issue with the prepaid pass site being flaky.

    and when i'm at home i just leave the MiFi plugged into my mac via usb and it works like ethernet, so no need to worry about it falling asleep or whatever.
    Left: T-Mobile Unlimited LTE, Right: TWC/Spectrum "ultra" (I want Wide Open West back!)

  5. #5
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    If you manage to get Touch Pro 2, buy Cradlepoint router to make it better 3G->wifi network.
    If you want HSPA+? Get HTC Incredible S (3G hotspot sharing supported).



    Optimum/Cablevision

  6. #6
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    1. In testing the WiFi showing X and the 4G icon disappearing upon sleeping for ~15 minutes with 0 WiFi devices connected, I tested both cases - AC power connected at all times, and on battery only. In both situations, the problem occured where the device would show X in the WiFi and the 4G icon would disappear. Only a full power cycle will restore the connection with the PC. Almost all tests and usage over the period owned (almost two weeks) were with the device plugged into the AC.

    2. Device was returned and now testing another from Walmart from a 'cheaper competitor' - Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go using their USB stick.

    For comparison, Engadget loads up ~16 seconds on T-Mobile 4G, ~21 seconds on VM, and ~56 seconds on a Bluetooth-tethered Nuron.

    The 1 noticable difference browsing even simple, mostly text pages is the latency!

    VM has 125-149ms, T-Mobile Hotspot had 201-417ms. As a result, the page-to-page loading times 'feels' snappier. The page and images load very fast and almost right away on VM; the page and images load quicker, but only appear towards the end of the page load on T-Mobile due to latency differences. Download is obviously faster on T-Mobile since it's on 4G (75-80KB/sec vs. 50-75KB/Sec 3G VM on EVDO A, but keep in mind T-Mobile was not running full bars inside the home, nor the competitor. T-Mobile 4G out in the open or near a tower is clearly light years faster.)

    ---

    As for setup, because VM is on a USB modem, setup naturally is easier and there's no issues with the device sleeping by accident unlike the Hotspot. It takes 10-15 minutes of personal time to setup, so here, T-Mobile's activation and setup in-store makes things nicer since the Hotspot is ready-to-use the moment you walk out of the store.

    4. Understand that Sleep mode on the Hotspot requires an active device to transfer a minimal amout of data now&then to maintain the connection. However, that defeats the power-saving feature of hibernation/sleep on most modern PCs. As well as 'required' power-off going through airport checks, etc. before entering the waiting area.

    5. One HUGE point I realized today buying VM on prepaid is that, after confirming by talking to the three reps in an official/corporate TMO (not 3rd party) store was that there's NO WAY to pre-purchase multiple $30 cards at one time (er, and VM has better pricing at the 1GB / mo. price point...) from a store, then keep them unused until you decide to load 1 of them to refill the account.

    A. This is a problem for older users who don't want to drive to the store every month, nor use any echeck/credit card payment system online (for security reasons). VM does not require this and allows you to buy as many pre-paid cards at once, unused until loaded into the account at a later date.

    B. This is also difficult because when used away from a T-Mobile store (yes, there are cities in the USA far away from one), there's no way to get a 'pre-paid' card when you're at a vacation store, for example. It would be nice to have several cards available so that each 'month' the device expires, you simply pull a pre-paid card from your stash and load it.

    C. 3 month account expiration which requires a new SIM card thereafter for reactivation?!? Did these reps say this correctly? If I'm out for vacation, I'm not going to use the device and the $ will expire. I DO NOT EXPECT to have to run back into a store after three months to get another SIM card just to reactivate it! Clearly, VM does not require this silliness.

    ---

    These issues, noted in posts above, have driven my dad 'nuts' whereas the simplicity of the alternate device we're testing now is a godsend. Naturally, take care of these 'issues' and we might try T-Mobile once again since the 4G is clearly faster.

    No way on this planet I'm touching my person T-Mo account!! Not with a tethered phone on the $5.99 T-Zones plan for amazingly cheap 24/7 surfing.

    I know there's lots of tethering/wifi sharing options on T-Mo and other providers, but due to the super-low cost plan I'm on with T-Zones, I'm not adding, modifying, etc. to my account for this (and it's primarily for use by dad anyways - this hotspot thing, so my phone isn't always home when he's wanting to surf). That said, if I wanted 'unlimited' everything, I'd pickup up Sprint for their $69/mo unlimited data plan with free TV IMO since Sprint has always given me great call quality (better than T-Mo) and fewer drops vs. T-Mo in my area.

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