About seven weeks ago I picked up the Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. This device allows you to create a WIFI network that is connected to the Sprint CDMA network.
Depending on your location depends on what speed you get. If you are in a 4G city and tower location, all of your WIFI devices will get great 4G speeds. If you aren’t in a 4G coverage area, the device will downshift and connect to the 3g network.
Either way, this device is a rather cool way to connect to the internet and share that connection with your spouse, family, friends or work colleagues. You can connect up to five devices or friends at the same time.
My home is not in a 4G coverage area. In fact most of Southlake, TX doesn’t have 4g coverage. It’s real spotty up here. You would think Sprint would care a little more about that but I guess they figure since it’s a Verizon FIOS area, there’s no burning need to provide fast high speed wireless. That probably makes sense.
The battery life for the Overdrive is just over three hours. I would certainly like to see longer battery life but it is what it is. 3-3.5 hours is decent for things like waiting for a flight or something, but you are going to need another battery if you expect to use your computer or device longer.
I haven’t seen any difference on battery life between 3G or 4G coverage. If the device isn’t being actively being used by another computer, it will suspend itself and go to sleep.
Case Size and Features
In the picture above, I placed the Overdrive on top of one of my ThinkPad laptop 2.5” hard drives so you would have a perspective of the size. Click the picture for a larger view. The Overdrive is small and has a very attractive gloss black case. If you look closely at the case you’ll see the MicroSD memory card slot. If you have pictures or docs on a memory card in that slot, it is shared across all devices connected to the hotspot.
The case includes a handy LCD panel that indicates what connection type you have, battery life left, and other indicators like how much data has been sent and received. You can also display the WIFI SSID and password. This comes in real handy in a setting like an airport where you want to tell a colleague what the password is. Instead of saying it verbally and having someone overhear, you can just show them right on the display.
I really love the mobile hotspot idea. I will keep the Overdrive until something else comes along that is better. It’s possible the Sprint HTC EVO phone that comes out in a couple of weeks will an Overdrive killer, but we’ll have to wait and see about the battery life on the EVO before we’ll know.
Then of course there’s the whole slew of phones coming out this summer and next fall. It would be great if Windows Phone 7 would allow for this type of feature, but we haven’t announced anything and the program managers I’ve talked to aren’t saying.
We’ll revisit this subject in a few weeks when I receive my Sprint HTC EVO.