T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot ZTE MF61 review: T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot ZTE MF61

Features
The T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot comes with an interesting way to control users' Internet bandwidth. The device supports both 3G and 4G and comes with data caps for each plan as mentioned earlier. When the caps are reached, charges won't be incurred for extra usage; instead, the speed of the connection to the Internet will be reduced to 0.1Mbps (100Kbps) at most, compared with the normal connection speeds of between 3.5Mbps and 5Mbps. Note that if you are in a 4G coverage area and don't watch your usage, you can burn through 10GB in just about 2 or 3 hours of heavy downloading or HD streaming.

To make up for this somewhat mean method of controlling the bandwidth, T-Mobile bundles all data plans with unlimited access to its existing nationwide Wi-Fi HotSpot service, which you can access without the use of the mobile router.

Like other mobile routers, the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot has a Web interface that you can access by pointing a Web browser of a connected computer to its default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1. Here you can further customize its settings, including changing the network's name, the encryption key, the number of allowed wireless clients, and so on. This Web interface also supports text messaging, which could come in handy if you need to reach somebody and the Internet connection is just too slow for e-mails.

Though we love this Web interface for its responsiveness and ease of use, we noticed that the router took a long time--up to 5 minutes--to apply certain changes. For security, the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot features all existing variations of WPA encryption. It also gives the option to filter wireless clients via their MAC addresses.

Performance
In our tests, the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot lived up to T-Mobile's claims, offering 4G speeds of between 2.8Mbps and 4.5Mbps for downloading and around 1.8Mbps for uploading.

Note that these download and upload speeds could vary a great deal from one city to another, and the numbers mentioned here only represent the experience of those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As a Wi-Fi router, the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot did fairly well for one that doesn't support Wireless-N, at just 10.8Mbps. The device excelled, however, in its battery life, which was about 6 hours in our testing, compared with the Sprint MiFi 4082's 4 hours.

Internet speeds (in Kbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Upload  
Download  
Verizon VL600 UB Modem (4G)
3,130 
12,288 
Clear 4G+ USB Modem (4G)
3,072 
9,216 
T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot (4G)
1,850 
3,568 
Verizon Five Spot (3G)
700 
1,300 
Sprint MiFi 2200 (3G)
550 
1,000 
Verizon MiFi 2200 (3G)
500 
1,000 

CNET Labs 2.4GHz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Conclusions
The T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot makes a great companion for those who travel and need a fast solution for e-mailing and surfing the Web. The included T-Mobile Wi-Fi HotSpot service, which is available at most airports, is an added bonus that many travelers will appreciate. Its reduced Internet speed restriction, however, will be frustrating for those who rely on heavy Web surfing and downloading.

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Where to Buy See all prices

T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot ZTE MF61

Part Number: ZTE MF61
MSRP: $129.99 Low Price: $64.99 See all prices