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Sprint MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot review: Very cool and could be cooler, too

CNET reviews Sprint's MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot.

Though tiny, Sprint's MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot packs lots of features and offers good performance.
Though tiny, Sprint's MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot packs lots of features and offers good performance.
Dong Ngo/CNET

If you travel alone with your laptop, a 4G modem like the Clear 4G+ Mobile or the LG VL600 LTE will more than take care of your Internet needs. But if you're in a group, or carry along with your laptop other Internet-enabled devices, such as mobile phones or tablets, you'll find those modems painfully lacking as they have no Internet-sharing capability.

What you need in this case is something that can offer Internet connections to multiple devices simultaneously. And this is when mobile cellular routers, like Sprint's MiFi 4082 3G/4G Hotspot, come into play.

The MiFi 4082 is very similar to Sprint's 3G mobile router, the MiFi 2200, but can work with the company's 4G network. The device supports up to five Wi-Fi clients a time and can also work with 3G networks in areas where 4G coverage is not yet available.

Though tiny, the MiFi 4082 offers an amazing set of features, including network storage in which it can host a microSD card that connected users can share data from. The router can also works as a modem in tethering mode when connected to a laptop via a USB cable. What's interesting is that it can work in both Wi-Fi and tethering modes at the same time.

In our trials around the San Francisco Bay Area, the MiFi 4082's Internet connection, though much faster than that of a 3G device, wasn't as fast as the 4G modems mentioned above, averaging about 2.5Mbps for downloading and .9Mbps for uploading. However, 2.5Mbps is actually very fast for an Internet connection and can stream HD content, such as Netflix movies, with ease. Note that these speeds vary depending on where you are, so you might end up having much faster or slower connections along your path of travel.

What will stay constant in the router, however, is its Wi-Fi speed, which is very good for a device of its tiny size. And its network storage feature works amazingly well, too.

Other than that, the MiFi 4082 also offers GPS-related features via its Web interface, such as weather information and other localized services. The router has a little more than 4 hours of battery life, which is long compared with other mobile routers we've reviewed. The device sometimes gets inexplicably hot, however, and runs out of battery charge very quickly.

Sprint offers the MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot with a single data plan that costs just $50 per month for unlimited 4G, and includes a backup 3G potion that's capped at 5GB. The router itself costs $80 with a two-year contract.

To see if it's the right device for you, check out the full review.

Editors' note: Sprint's rep told us that the data plan was $50 but its site now says $60.