Today via our new Macbook Air we decided to test 4 Personal Hotspot devices head to head. This is a tough comparison due to the fact that not all cell towers from the different vendors are in the same spot but our speciality is testing ITRW (in the real-world). We picked a spot that was as close to equal signal for all devices. we would see between 4 and 5 bars of signal on all of the devices consistently.
Here is what we tested: An older Verizon 3G Myfi Hotspot, a new Verizon iPhone4 running in 3G Hotspot Mode, A new Sprint 4G Overdrive Myfi device and a new ATT LTE 4G Atrix Phone from Motorola running in Hotspot mode.
How we tested: we used Safari on a new Macbook Air, using http://www.speedtest.net, we picked the shortest distance provider unless it would default on it’s own to a specific provider gateway. (this would be automatic and there isn’t much you could do about it anyway) As a general rule, the farther the testing distance the more the latency (Ping) times would go up. We booted the Macbook Air fresh each time, waited a few minutes for it to load completely and connected to the specific hotspot the same as you would do ITRW. We ran the test for each device 5 times and took the middle score which is what you see below. We also enabled WPA security on all devices.
The trusty old Verizon 3G MyFi showed a pretty reasonable score and was about the most consistent for each test, this is a respectable 3G result. This was the older “gold standard” for portable hotspots and is still one of the most popular hotspot devices out there.
Next, our new Verizon iPhone4 which is a 3G network device, with the personal hotspot mode enabled (not USB or Bluetooth) It was surprising to see the latency figure go up so high, but on each test this is what we saw, the speed wasn’t too bad, very usable but not blazing speed and a little slow on responding.
We had much bigger hopes for the 4G devices, so we tested the Sprint Overdrive 4G personal hotspot. We expected so much more from this device, low latency, but just average 3G like speeds and we verified the 4G connection each time, it was in 4G mode.
All week we have been testing the Motorola Atrix 4G LTE phone and accessories on ATT’s new high speed network, although it was the fastest performer, each test was all over the place and the speed varied test to test clearly this little Android phone kicked butt on the test, but still, 4G is supposed to offer so much more speed. we have seen greater speeds than this with ATT USB 3G adapters so it wasn’t that impressive.
All-in this was a pretty good wrap up on 4 Personal Hotspot capable internet connections for just about anything that will use a WIFI connection.
We can’t wait to see some really impressive 4G LTE speeds as promised, but as of this writing, just average 3G speeds were observed today and the 4G devices reported solid 4G connections but didn’t blow any of us away ITRW testing..
More to come!