The Fivespot ships with a small user manual, but you probably won't need to use it at all. On the back, there's a sticker that shows the default wireless network name (SSID) and a default encryption key.
If you don't like the default SSID and encryption key--we didn't, because they are too long to remember--you can change them by logging into the device's Web interface. By default, this can be done by pointing a connected computer's browser to 192.168.0.1. The default log-in information is "admin" for both the username and password. The Web interface also allows you to access the router's other features.
If you want to restore the Fivespot back to the default settings, just press and release the power button 10 times within 15 seconds. That will reverse all the changes you've made to the Fivespot's settings.
Despite the tiny size, the Fivespot has many features you'll find in full-size routers. Apart from basic settings, such as changing the SSID and encryption key, the Web interface also offers port forwarding, which is an advanced feature that allows you to set up special Internet applications such as an FTP server, an HTTP server, or a remote desktop connection. It also offers customization for Firewall and other advanced features. The Web interface itself was well organized and responsive.
For security, the Fivespot supports WEP, WPA, and WPA 2 encryption methods. It also gives the option to filter wireless clients via their MAC address. This is convenient when using handheld devices, such as VoIP phones, where you don't want to have to fiddle with typing in the encryption key.
Like the MiFi 2200, in the U.S. the Fivespot uses Verizon's national EV-DO network to connect to the Internet. When used outside of the U.S., it can also link to GSM-based networks. Verizon says it has partnered with carriers in more than 200 countries, allowing the Fivespot to also operate in those countries. For other countries, or in case you want to use a local carrier's data plan, you can just change the SIM card. The SIM's slot is behind the battery, which is also replaceable.
The Verizon Wireless Fivespot has the same Wi-Fi specs as the MiFi 2200. It supports up to five concurrent Wi-Fi devices and operates in the legacy 802.11g standard, which caps at 54Mbps.
Obviously, we'd like to see the device support more clients at a time and use the faster Wireless-N specs, but considering its size and the fact that the cellular data connection is much slower than 54Mbps, we found what it has to offer adequate.
In our testing, the Fivespot's range is limited to around 30 feet, which is short compared with any regular wireless router, but again, this is not a surprise considering the device's tiny size.
The Fivespot did comparatively well in our throughput test, scoring 6.7Mbps when transferring data between wireless clients, compared with the MiFi 2200's speed of 4.8Mbps. Note, however, that this number is nowhere close to that of regular 802.11g wireless routers, which average at around 20Mbps.
We didn't get a chance to test the Fivespot anywhere outside California. However, we did try it out in different cities around the state--in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento area, and the Los Angeles area--and the data signal was consistently good.
The Internet connection speed varied depending on the location, but we got around 1,300Kbps for download and around 700Kbps for upload, which was fast enough for general Internet usage, including some light YouTube streaming. We noticed that the latency was always rather high (around 200ms), which might hinder your online gaming.
The Fivespot has decent battery life. When used constantly it offers around 4 hours of usage. However, if you don't use it constantly, the little router would go into sleep mode after about 10 minutes of being idle. In this case you can instantly wake it up by pressing the power button once. This helps save the battery life and in our real-world experience, we could get about two days out of one charge with light usage. Of course, you can always plug it into a computer, and the battery's life would no longer be an issue.
Service and support
The Fivespot comes with a one-year warranty for the hardware. It also comes with the same support that Verizon offers for cell phones: 24-7 technical phone support and a section dedicated to the Fivespot on the Verizon Web site to help you get it started and troubleshoot problems.