Netgear AirCard 785 Mobile Hotspot Review - Performance, Value and Verdict Review

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Netgear AirCard 785 – Performance

So while Netgear has done a

good job upgrading the look and usability of a basic carrier-supplied

MiFi, it lives and dies on performance, and I’m pleased to say Netgear

has nailed this as well. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on

your choice of carrier and location (all still have strong and weak

areas), but we came away extremely impressed.

The key factor in

this was finding an area where our smartphones (iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy

Note 4) were only able to get a zero-to-single bar of 3G signal, but

the AirCard 785 was still able to attain three bars (out of five) of 4G.

This resulted in download and upload speeds of 25.57Mbps and 10.36Mbps

respectively, while our smartphones struggled to under 1Mbps up and down

in exactly the same location.

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While

this proved the key test, we also found even in good signal areas that

the AirCard 785 would still outpace our cutting edge handsets (I hit

72Mbps in Kensington, London while the phones topped out at 32Mbps)

making it a far better option for tethering to our laptops than our

smartphones (and saving their batteries in the process). In fact we were

tempted to just carry the AirCard 785 around with us full time with our

phones connected as it was so much stronger.

Interestingly for

some the AirCard 785 could therefore become a decent alternative to

fixed line broadband if you can find a good tariff. A caveat for us in

recommending this though is you won’t get the same wireless range that

you see from a fixed line router.

Move a few rooms away and

place some solid walls between you and the signal will drop dramatically

so it is best suited to small flats. That said the point of a MiFi is

as a mobile device and in this scenario you are never likely to be more

than a few metres away from it.

As for battery life, the AirCard

785 is also a cut above. The TP-Link M5360 still easily holds the

record (after all it doubles as an external battery), but we were able

to use it as our main data connection for a fraction over 10 hours

before it died. As mentioned previously, the removable battery also

means those likely to be away from a charger for longer than that can

simply swap out the battery to go back to full charge.

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Should I buy the Netgear AirCard 785?

Just

as many ISPs’ supplied routers are getting much better with the move to

802.11ac, so are many carriers’ supplied MiFis as they increasingly

support 4G. As such, despite doing almost everything right, the AirCard

785 may not be able to convince many to upgrade.

That said it

should be strongly considered. Away from long-term contracts, 4G

carrier-supplied MiFi devices come in around £60-80 while the Netgear AirCard

785 retails for £105. As a percentage this represents a significant

additional outlay, but it comes unlocked which makes it ideal for

travellers buying local SIMs and those who prefer not to tie themselves

down to lengthy contracts.

Verdict

The Netgear AirCard 785 is the best MiFi we’ve tested. It looks good, performs

superbly and could even be a decent fixed-line broadband alternative for

some. The price could be a little cheaper, but owners are highly

unlikely to regret their outlay.

Next, read more Peripherals Reviews

Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 10
  • Value 7
  • Features 9
  • Build Quality 8
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8