Huawei E585 MiFi Appliance

As I’ve been using the E585 for nearly a year, I believe it is time to give a quick summary of my experiences with the device.

There is no doubt in my mind, that a small, portable device that provides 3G to WiFi routing - ideally for multiple clients - is the best solution for people frequently on the road. Some of the advantages:

1. connect multliple WiFi clients simultaneously in a local WiFi network with internet access (up to 5 on the E585)
2. no driver issues with USB 3G sticks, especially on Apple computers
3. connect devices (for example iPod Touch) that don’t offer any other connectivity, even on the road

Subsequently, I would buy a MiFi again, should the E585 quit working.

Would it be the E585 or a similar Huawei product? Not so sure about that.

For one thing, the E585 initially delivered incredible performance from the rechargable battery. The first time I used it was on a train trip from Berlin to Karlsruhe (more than 5 hours) without any need to connect it to the USB port to recharge. Unfortunately, the battery quickly lost its capacity, so that it currently won’t run for longer than half an hour without connection to power.

For another thing, the device occasionally has a “network hiccup” in that it will show good reception but not route any data. This only happens sporadically, but it sure is annoying, as it doesn’t indicate any sort of error. A reset (either by power cycling or by calling a reset from the config web page) will fix this, but read the next issue.

Lastly, the time required for the device to begin routing from power up is, in my opinion, much too long. I haven’t measured it, but it feels like about 3 minutes. If all you’re trying to do is quickly get some emails out, this is annoying. It certainly seems like most of that time, the device is booting up, quite possibly due to an extremely slow CPU.

One more point, although I wouldn’t dock “stars” from a product rating for this: I would have wished for the device to have a “USB data mode”, where the WiFI actually turns off and data is delivered via USB. Yes, this once again requires drivers to be installed (or already available), but seeing as there are quite a few standard products that provide USB to Ethernet bridging, this mode of operation should be less troublesome than finding working drivers (and software) for a USB 3G stick.

I haven’t tried any other MiFi products, but there are some things that could - probably quite easily - be solved with hardware / firmware upgrades.

Speaking of upgrades, I have not been able to find a way to upgrade the E585 firmware. The Huawei website doesn’t offer a simple firmware update download - unfortunately.

Would I recommend the unit to others? Potentially yes, but I would certainly recommend a bit more research into alternatives.