Clear Spot 4G - Apollo review: Clear Spot 4G - Apollo

There's nothing to setting up the Apollo, other than turning it on. You can further customize its features and settings via its Web interface, by pointing the browser of a connected computer to its default IP address of 192.168.15.1. The default password to log in is "admin." Via the Web interface you can change the router's wireless network (or SSID) and access a relatively comprehensive set of other features. For example, you can choose to handle work with a DynDNS server, assign fixed IP addresses, or forward certain ports to connected clients. For security the router supports all versions of WPA and WPA 2, although it doesn't support the legacy WEP encryption method.

Unlike some other mobile routers we've reviewed, such as the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot ZTE MF61, the Apollo doesn't offer the ability to send and receive text messages via its Web interface, nor does it have a built-in GPS function to offer localized services. The router doesn't offer tethering, either, meaning when plugged into a computer it only charges its battery and doesn't work as cellular modem.

Data plans and performance
We tried The Clear Spot 4G - Apollo around the San Francisco Bay Area, which is part of Clear's 4G coverage, and it offered great performance with download speeds that peaked at around 10Mbps and upload speeds peaking at around 5Mbps. It averaged a consistent 9Mbps and 3Mbps for download and upload, respectively, similar to the Clear 4G+ modem. At this speed, the router can finish downloading a full 1080p HD movie in less than 2 hours, and offer great performance even for the most demanding Internet-related applications, such as HD media streaming to multiple computers.

The great thing about the Apollo is that you actually can download or stream as much as you want. The router comes with multiple data plans with the unlimited 4G plans starting at just $45 per month. Compared with Verizon's $80-per-month data plan with its 10GB data cap, this is a great deal. Those who don't download a lot and just want to have a fast device for basic e-mail and Web surfing can also opt for Clear's cheapest data plan with the Apollo, which costs just $20 per month but comes with a 200MB data cap.

We were a little disappointed that the Apollo supports only the 802.11g wireless standard, meaning its local Wi-Fi network will cap at just 54Mbps. While this is plenty fast enough for Internet access, it's not fast enough for local network services such as file sharing between connected clients. The router does works with all wireless clients, however, including N-standard clients, and offered good range in our testing, providing usable connectivity up to 75 feet. While the router's signal can be detected up to 150 feet or so away, we found that it's best used within about 50 feet or less, which is plenty for a router of its size.

More than making up for the lack of Wireless-N, the Apollo also offered great battery life in our testing, up to almost 7 hours of continuous casual usage on one full charge. The device won't turn itself off when idle for a long time, meaning you'll need to manually turn it off when you don't want to use it. However, this also means that you can leave it somewhere secluded, such as the trunk of a car or a corner of the house, without having to look for it once in a while to turn it back on.

Cellular Internet speed (in Kbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Upload  
Download  
Verizon VL600 UB Modem (4G)
3,130 
12,288 
Clear 4G+ Apollo
3,313 
9,235 
Clear 4G+ USB Modem (4G)
3,072 
9,216 
T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 (4G)
2,440 
6,729 
Verizon Fivespot (3G)
700 
1,300 
Sprint MiFi 2200 (3G)
550 
1,000 
Verizon MiFi 2200 (3G)
500 
1,000 

Conclusions
Despite its relatively large size and the lack of Wireless-N support, the Editors' Choice Award-winning Clear Spot 4G - Apollo makes an excellent mobile Internet access option thanks to its ease of use, fast Internet speeds, and, most importantly, the included unlimited and affordable 4G data plans. The router's lack of support for 3G, however, means that it's only useful when used within Clear's 4G coverage areas.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Clear Spot 4G - Apollo

Part Number: CNETCLEARSPOT4GAPOLLO

MSRP: $99.00

See manufacturer website for availability.