Top positive review
118 of 120 people found this helpful
So much better than a dongle
on 14 August 2013
I've been using a 3G dongle for mobile data access for years. It can work very well - for example it has given me continuous Internet access on long rail journeys. Unfortunately, it has not always worked that well and there is always the issue of having a dongle sticking out of my netbook which risks accidental damage to both.
I wanted to switch to a Mi-Fi device to get rid of the dongle and to support portable devices such as my Kindle that have only Wi-Fi. My provider does not carry a Mi-Fi device so I purchased a TP-LINK M5350 for my personal use. It arrived today and I am already very impressed by it.
It is an exceptionally well thought through device that does not rely on any external hardware other than a SIM card. This is really important to anyone like myself who uses the Linux OS on their laptop. It is also incredibly easy to set up. You just pop it open, put in your SIM and an optional micro SD memory card, add the battery, note the SSID and password on the label on the inside of the cover and then replace put the cover back on. For most people that will be it. Job done.
You can plug in the M5350's charger and connect up to the mains to start using your device straight away. With the charger connected you will see a large charging icon appear on the display. Press and hold the single button on the M5350 for a few seconds to turn it on. The single charging icon will be replaced by two rows of smaller icons. These are well described on the quick start leaflet and give you all the information you need to monitor the operation of the device.
Personally I would always recommend changing the default SSID and password of any Wi-Fi modem. The M5350 has a wizard to make this process easy, the instructions to access it are on quick start leaflet. If you want to do more to secure your device its settings like turning off the SSID broadcast then the built in firmware makes this easy to do. Again, I am very impressed by this software, it is actually simpler to use than that on my home modem.
Everything is there including support to send and receive SMS messages - watch this it could incur additional charges if not included in your data contract. There is also an impressive manual that you get at through the help icon on the device's control panel. The M5350 also records total data throughput, the manual warns that this may not coincide with your data provider's figures but it will be good enough to warn you if you are in danger of going above your data allowance.
Against these positive points there are a couple of things to be aware of:
- The back does not appear to be designed to be taken off and replaced on a regular basis so it will be better to use this device with a contract or re-chargeable pre-pay SIM card;
- The lead provided with the supplied is short so you may need to replace it;
- The micro SD card is only accessible through a physical USB link to your computer or other device.
That last point implies that the modem can be used as an independent, portable backup device that is not going to be easy to accidentally corrupt. I actually think this is another well thought out feature of this device although not everyone will see it this way.