The MiFi doesn’t have an LCD screen, but instead communicates information to users via five LEDs. One shows whether the MiFi has a mobile signal or not, another shows you whether you’re currently roaming, while a third shows you whether the Wi-Fi transmitter is turned on or off. There’s also a simple battery indicator and a broadband status light. Unfortunately, these LEDs simply don’t provide you with enough information. For example, the signal LED simply shows whether the mobile network’s signal is being received; it doesn’t show the current signal strength. Similarly, the battery indicator shows you only when the battery needs to be recharged. It doesn’t indicate the actual battery level.
The broadband mode indicator is also troublesome. It switches between light blue and dark blue to show whether it’s connected via HSDPA or slow 3G. However, the first time you use the MiFi you’ve got no frame of reference as to which is dark blue and which is light blue so you’ve simply no way of knowing which mode it’s actually operating in. A simple one-line LCD display would have gone a long way towards solving these issues.
That said, getting the device up and running is very straightforward. It’s simply a matter of holding down the on button and waiting for the MiFi to kick into life. Then you press the connect button to activate the mobile broadband link and finally you press the Wi-Fi button to turn on the Wi-Fi connection. Sensibly, the device is set up by default to use encryption and 3 provides the SSID name and WEP Key on a small card, so you don’t have to configure any settings to get it up and running.
Obviously, with only three buttons on the device there’s no way to change the MiFi’s configuration without plugging it into a PC. Once you do plug it into a computer it automatically launches the installer for loading all the necessary drivers plus the 3 Wi-Fi Manager. This application gives you pretty comprehensive control over the MiFi allowing you to change the SSID and WEP key, adjust the firewall defaults and alter the DHCP settings. You can also use the app to store contact numbers, send and receive SMS messages and turn on and off the device’s broadband and Wi-Fi connections. On top of this it enables you to monitor the status and signal strength of the broadband connection.