When the first MiFi mobile hotspot appeared a few years ago it was a game changer for the mobile professional. A small gadget that tapped into mobile broadband and shared it with multiple devices over Wi-Fi was revolutionary and set the stage for the mobile hotspot feature now common on smartphones.
The Novatel Liberate is a global device and can be used in many countries. This makes it a great bit of kit for international travellers.
Novatel Wirelesshas been making MiFi devices from the beginning, and the Liberate MiFi with touch screen is a solid evolution of the technology. I have been testing one on the AT&T 4G network for a few days and it is easily the best of the lot.
What sets the Liberate apart from the MiFi crowd is the 2.8-inch touch screen that provides a window into a process that is normally hidden from the user. I thought a screen on a mobile hotspot device was a gimmick, but having used it I now believe it is a great feature.
The benefit of the screen is evident from first boot of the Liberate, as it provides a status on what is happening. Once the device taps into the data network, the screen gives instructions for how to get devices online via Wi-Fi. The whole process just takes seconds from boot to getting online.
While the Liberate is small and light (4.26 oz.), Novatel Wireless has crammed a battery that can deliver a claimed 11 hours of use inside. I didn't benchmark that claim but in several days of all day usage I believe it to be accurate.
You can connect up to 10 devices to the AT&T network with the Novatel Liberate. I had as many as four connected at once during my use and it worked flawlessly. A nice security feature is how the Liberate indicates on the screen when a device is trying to access the mobile hotspot. This alone makes the screen worth having on the Liberate.
The Novatel Wireless Liberate is a global device and can be used in many countries. This makes it a great bit of kit for international travellers.
The AT&T version of the Liberate as tested can connect to LTE, HSPA+/HSPA, EDGE, and even GPRS. It dishes the connection out over 802.11 b/g/n to connect to virtually any mobile device.
There are some additional features that I haven't needed to use, such as the integrated DLNA Media Center and the ability to share files right from the device.
The Liberate is a full secure Wi-Fi router that is configurable for any desired setup, but the default configuration is very secure for most users.
The Novatel Wireless Liberate MiFi is $200 without contract on the AT&T network, or $50 with a 2-year contract.