Review: Verizon MiFi 4510L Puts a 4G Hotspot Rocket in Your Pocket

Last Updated Jun 29, 2011 11:06 AM EDT

On many occasions I've gushed about Virgin Mobile's MiFi 2200, a no-monthly-contract mobile hotspot that leverages Sprint's broadband network.

It's a great deal, but definitely not a performance champ. In fact, in my tests, it rarely delivered anything near 3G speeds.

If you need blazing Internet connectivity, either in the office or on the go, you need the Verizon MiFi 4510L 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot.

Like its predecessors, the MiFi is about the size of a stack of credit cards. But this model adds a small LCD screen that shows battery life, signal strength, and number of devices connected. Its 802.11b/g/n hotspot allows up to five users/devices to connect simultaneously to Verizon's 4G data network.

And, heavens, what a fast network it is. I tested the 4510L with an Acer laptop and Speedtest.net, and it clocked a download speed of 14.77 Mbps and an upload speed of 10.76 Mbps. And that was in my office. Which is in my basement.

The download numbers are about the same as I get from Comcast, but the uploads were around 10 times faster. That's pretty spectacular.

The MiFi is so fast, in fact, you could conceivably ditch your cable or DSL Internet service and make Verizon your full-time provider. The only real wrinkle is bandwidth: Verizon charges $50 per month for 5GB or $80 for 10GB. For most businesses, that's probably not nearly enough data. Thus, plan on using this primarily as a mobile modem.

At least the hardware is cheap: $49.99 with a two-year contract, or $269.99 if you prefer month-to-month. My only real complaint with the device is that if you're charging it via USB (an AC adapter is also included), you lose hotspot connectivity.

But that's a minor quibble. The Verizon MiFi 4510L is a killer solution for anyone seeking high-speed Internet access for multiple devices.

Pros: Unbelievably fast. Smaller than a deck of cards. Month-to-month option available for those who don't want yet another two-year contract.

Cons: Wi-Fi gets disabled when you connect the modem via USB. Data caps may prove problematic for some business users.

Should You Buy It? If you travel a lot or just need a reliable backup for your cable/DSL service, definitely.

Price: $49.99 with two-year contract, plus monthly service of $50 or $80.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.

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