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3 MiFi Huawei E5830 review

Niall Magennis

By

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 4

3 MiFi Huawei E5830
  • 3 MiFi Huawei E5830
  • 3 MiFi Huawei E5830
  • 3 MiFi Huawei E5830
  • 3 MiFi Huawei E5830

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Simple controls
  • Can connect multiple devices

Cons

  • Lacks an external aerial
  • Long time to charge
  • LEDs lack clarity

Key Features

  • 90g
  • 1500mAh battery
  • microSD card slot
  • Mini-USB port
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g
  • Manufacturer: 3
  • Review Price: free/subscription

It seems that 3 can't quite make up its mind about what to actually call this device. On the company's website it's billed as the Mobile Broadband MiFi, while on the box it's simply titled Mobile Wi-Fi. Whatever the company finally settles on calling it, one thing is for sure, it does a hell of a lot more than your standard broadband modem. This is because the MiFi (which is really a rebadged Huawei E5830) combines the functions of a mobile broadband dongle and a battery powered Wi-Fi router into a single device.

The benefit is that unlike a standard USB modem you can connect multiple devices to it at the same time to share the connection. It's handy to have around the home to share broadband with, say, a couple of laptops and an iPod Touch, or business users could call on it to quickly set up a Wi-Fi network at an away site. In fact, the more you think about it, the more useful it seems to be.

What's more, the MiFi's small size means it's very easy to carry around. It's around two thirds the size of an ordinary mobile phone (if there's such a thing these days) and is also extremely light at just 90g, so you can easily stuff it in a laptop bag without worrying about it weighing you down.

The entire body of the device is made from plastic, although the bottom half of the front panel is finished with an aluminium paint job. The white rear cover snaps off to reveal the removable 1500mAh battery and underneath this is the holder for your mobile broadband SIM. The MiFi's controls are extremely simple as it only actually has three buttons mounted on the right hand edge. These are used to turn the device on, start and stop the broadband connection and switch the Wi-Fi on and off. There's also a microSD card slot on the left that acts as a card reader when it's connected to a PC via the mini-USB port on the bottom of the device (which also doubles as the charging port).

Ian Forsey

October 7, 2009, 5:51 am

A very good review.


I purchases the monthly contract on the morning it was on sale. Excellent unit. Works well, stays connected and reconnects in and out of bad areas, with in the time before standby kicks in.


Two points. The reviewer was lucky in getting those download speeds. In Devon I have not seen greater than 1mb/s down and up is around 30/40 Kb/s Average down is around 300Kb/s to 500kb/s.


the other point is that whilst it will stay connected and receive power via the USB lead, it will not stay connected, as suggested in the review, when connected to the charger.





On the whole a great unit at a reasonable cost.

GoldenGuy

October 7, 2009, 6:14 am

Mm - MeWant! A very elegant solution that would save me from having a broomstick hanging out the side of my laptop. I just know 5GB isn't enough. I'd happily consider a higher tariff for more though.

Ian Forsey

October 7, 2009, 6:15 am

Further to my comment about the Three Mi Fi Unit:





After further tests I find that the unit will in fact connect while being charged. However if it is running and you connect to the charger it will disconnect, turn off, except for the charge flashing light.

Indigo

October 7, 2009, 8:38 am

Don't Huawei network products route all your data through the State Security Bureau of the People's Republic of China?

Gordon394

October 7, 2009, 10:20 am

@Indigo - errrrrrrrr, no.

SweetFA

October 7, 2009, 12:34 pm

I've got a 3 mobile dongle and i'm pretty sure my monthly 1 gig allowance is combined downloads & uploads, probably worth stating this - ie you can't actually download a gigabyte, so presumably the 5 gigabyte allowance with this device is on the same basis.

Coffee_With_Bailey's

October 7, 2009, 2:12 pm

Are any tools provided to monitor the used proportion of your monthly traffic allowance?

Indigo

October 7, 2009, 2:13 pm

@Gordon - I was only joking, but have you read this?: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t...

Ian Forsey

October 7, 2009, 3:31 pm

Yet a ---Further to my comment about the Three Mi Fi Unit:---





After reading the review and posting my first comment with regard to charging. It appeared to be charging so I added a comment to say the review was correct is saying you can charge and be connected.


Tested it again and confirm that it is not possible to charge from the mains and be connected at the same time.

Ben

October 7, 2009, 3:35 pm

@Ian Forsey - that's a bit rubbish, surely? :S

Niall

October 7, 2009, 4:58 pm

My unit worked without any problems when it was plugged in to the mains.

mikfrak

October 7, 2009, 6:26 pm

More of a question than a comment. Given the small memory of the cheapest iTouch and the relatively low cost of micro SD cards, could you use the T3 device's memory slot as a backdoor way of extending the iTouch memory? Would you be able store iTunes playlists, photos and video on it and use Skype, giving yourself a cheap alternative to an iPhone, without the Satnav?

Ian Forsey

October 8, 2009, 4:58 am

Ben & Niall


I agree that the Mi Fi unit will work when connected to the mains. But and a big but - it does not charge! Well mine will not charge. So absolutely no point in connecting to the mains!


Perhaps you would be good enough to test yours. 'Three' support confirmed to me that it will not charge when connected. Not good.


I have asked Three if I can purchase a spare battery and told not possible yet as it is to new! Jeeze!





My download/upload speeds have been terrible. This evening when it's surely not busy my download speed was 97kb/s. speeds of yesteryear! And at 1.0am it is still unusable.


http://www.speedtest.net/resul...

sockatume

October 9, 2009, 3:59 pm

It doesn't charge while connected to the mains and is online, but does it draw power from the mains charger? I mean, can it run indefinitely on the mains when it's online, so long as you don't mind having to charge the battery after?

JudgeChuck

October 15, 2009, 1:48 pm

Quick question: Does anyone know whether this creates an Infrastructure or Ad-hoc WiFi access point? I have a device that I would be very interested in using with one of these but it can only connect to Infrastructure points. Cheers!

Hornet

October 16, 2009, 7:55 am

Just released in Aust. w/out mains charger. Customer support are morons. Can someone tell me the current and voltage rating of the mains charger please.

shauren

October 22, 2009, 5:24 pm

I got a O2 dongle and the coverage was pathetic. 3 coverage appears to be much better or may be this modem is better at picking up signals. (I think it is the former because 3G coverage using my O2 iPhone is not great).





Pros:





1. It doesn't stick out of the back/side so doesn't get in the way


2. I can put it near a window to get better reception


3. It's about the size of a mobile phone so you can put it in your pocket


4. Feels like a fixed broadband connection although not quite as quick (but certainly quicker than my iPhone 3GS on 3G).





Cons:


1. I am on Pay as You Go and the 3 website isn't 100% clear on what it is going to cost longer term.





On my charger it says output 5.3V 650mA (which is the standard USB rating I believe)

john.g7swz

November 1, 2009, 5:10 pm

Does anyone know if this device and its software is compatible with Windows 7 Professional. I have been using a USB dongle (e160g) on 3 but since moving from Vista to 7 it no longer works and I cannot find any updated software or drivers - suport at 3 uk are useless! I do not want tobuy the MiFi if it will not work on Windows 7

Steve 31

November 7, 2009, 3:51 pm

Three mobile broadband costs: http://www.three.co.uk/Mobile_... - seriously considering pairing with an iPod touch...

alan dr

November 8, 2009, 1:37 pm

I currently use a dongle and plan to buy this on PAYG and use my SIM - 3 say it will work. But I currently use a SIM password. Can this device suppoer a SIM password? I cannot see where you would enter it when you connect.

bdveit

November 27, 2009, 3:24 pm

I would like to be able to use this to run a couple of ip cameras at a remote location. Would this be possable. Would it remain online 24 hours a day or would the conection be terminated?

Mike Charnock

December 2, 2009, 8:08 pm

I have one of these, and it works really well. Bought it PAYG (for £50) and am using it with a 3 wireless broadband (15Gb for £15/month).





People getting slow speeds must be in poor signal or busy areas. In mid Sussex I am getting about 1.3Mbps down, and amazingly slightly better (up to 1.5Mbps) up. Seems good at holding the phone signal, as I have used it in a car, using an iPod Touch to stream internet radio. On the journey between Hastings and Brighton only one signal drop, which lasted about 10 seconds. Recommended.

Joseph Middleton

December 8, 2009, 3:10 am

Are some people failing to see the true beauty of ths device? In my school there are 4 of us with iPhones/touches and we would love to use bump or play games but our school wifi is passworded and so to have a mini wifi network (regardless of Internet) means we can all play together!


Now here's my question(s)


will my above idea work if there is no sim card in there?


Is it possible to use my current contract of unlimited texts and internet as the Internet sim?


Sounds like a very good idea just want to make sure it works!

Devious Dog

February 5, 2010, 8:31 pm

This is a fantastic device for providing Internet access on the go. The devices display screen with only 5 indicators with verious lights is more then enough for exact connection status, however it will not provide input on how charged the battery is. It will idicate either charging or flat. Brand new out of the box you can plug the USB charger in and connect to the network with out charging the battery, however you can not turn the device on without the battery inserted. Unsure if the battery charges whilst connected into mains due to lack of battery indicator.





Changing the Access Point Name (APN) settings for other networks was as simple as making a coffee once you plug the device into your computer (PC). Of course you will need to get your device unlocked, I have got it working on three (default), O2 and Vodafone.





Very surprising that the unit allows for upnp for anyone wanting to stream video or music, shame that the device could not see the microSD card and stream the contents from this.





The one concern I have with this unit is it will disconnect the WiFi connection after a period of time of being idle (WHY), but it still stays connected to your service provider. This seems a bit pointless and silly, why disconnect WiFi and keep service connection going. Currenlty there are NO settings to turn this behaviour ON or OFF, fingers crossed a firmware fix will come. So internet connection can not be constant with this device currently, it will disconnect after a period of idle. Idle period is unknown.





I did test the unit with my normal phone sim from my Blackberry (which has internet access), once the APN was configured for this service provider the unit gave me Internet access. This has now given me an option to use my phone sim for internet access, when I need to access the internet on my computer and no WiFi is avalible.





Unit is great for MAC or PC, iPhone or Touch and will give a good option for the iPad without the 3G card. Cant wait for the second Gen of these devices.

nigelmercier

April 2, 2010, 4:03 am

@Hornet


As shauren said the charger says output 5.3V 650mA. However, I've tested it when charging and it only draws about 300mA with the wireless on. I'm using a phone charger to keep it running, as I don't have mains!

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