Hands-on with Yota Ruby, not your average hot spot

 
/ Updated: May 21, 2013 3:54 PM PDT

LAS VEGAS -- When the guys behind the dual-screen Android and e-ink YotaPhone say they're working on a hot spot, you know that the Yota Ruby isn't your average portable Wi-Fi router.

Just consider the hot spot's design. Unlike a lot of hot-spot bricks we see, this white device has smooth, rounded edges and a flat top and bottom (it'll come in black, too.) Different-colored LED lights behind the playful Yota insignia shine out to indicate if you're on 4G, 3G, or 2G, so you can tell at a glance.

Like other hot spots, Yota's Ruby is multimodal, skipping among 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G connections depending on signal strength. It supports five global LTE bands at the moment (B1, B3, B7, B20, and B38), with more support coming up, like for the U.S. (Sadly, we didn't have a chance to try the hot spot and its glowing indicator for this very reason.)

Yota has integrated some other neat design elements as well. The power turns on with a sliding switch. Notch it to the left and you've got a private network just for yourself. Notch it to the right and you can share with up to 9 other devices for a total of 10.

In addition to the number of connected devices and battery strength showing on the Ruby's e-ink display, a smiley face pops up to let you know when you're connected in "public mode." Don't worry, you can still set a password.

You charge the 2,100mAh battery through the Micro-USB charging port, but you can also flip open a USB connector to charge the device or to use it as a personal USB modem. This USB connector conceals a micro-SIM card slot so you can swap SIMs if you hop countries. That makes a lot of sense for a global device.

The battery runs for about 16 hours off a full charge, Yota says, and for 60 hours on standby, about two and a half days. In an hour, according to Yota, the Ruby's battery can charge up to 70 percent.

True, there's no touch screen, which is the way that a lot of hot spots are going, but I enjoy Yota's thoughtful design touches.

There's no pricing for the Ruby hot spot yet, but it should sell globally for about $120, starting in Russia around November and expanding in Europe after that. Yota is currently seeking North American carrier partners for the device. We hope to go even deeper into the Ruby's performance as soon as the device supports U.S. LTE networks.

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