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Add 3G to your Wi-Fi iPad with a MiFi: Oh my!

With a MiFi you can connect your Wi-Fi-only iPad to the Internet over the 3G network, allowing for Web access away from your router

If you just don't fancy shelling out an extra £100 for the 3G iPad, you may be considering the version with Wi-Fi only. But that doesn't mean you have to be chained to your router. You can still have the freedom of 3G surfing if you care to invest in a MiFi mobile wireless hotspot.

We took our Wi-Fi iPad on the road with a MiFi from 3 mobile (you can see the prices here), or you could also choose the Novatel MiFi, for use on any network. Either way, a MiFi takes a SIM card and connects to the 3G mobile network, and then beams out a tasty bubble of Wi-Fi so you can connect your iPad -- and other Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets -- to the Internet anywhere there's a 3G signal. 

Thanks to its apps, podcasts, music and video capability, the iPad is plenty of fun even if you're offline. But we loved having Internet access wherever we went -- in theory. We had trouble getting good connectivity on the 3 network during our travels around London, the south east, and Ireland. We also struggled to stay connected on a speedy train journey. 

Since our MiFi spews out a Wi-Fi signal whether it's connected to the 3G network or not, the iPad doesn't lose a connection even when the MiFi does. That means it's not always easy to tell if you've got a decent connection or not -- and the 3 MiFi's mysterious status lights don't help much either. 

Battery life is another problem. 3 says its MiFi offers up to 5 hours of battery life, depending on how many devices are connected. That sounds like plenty, but, compared with the iPad's 10 hours of surfing power, the MiFi feels like a glutton for juice. 

A MiFi is a great gadget if you have multiple devices that you need to get online -- when the 3G signal is strong. The rest of the time, it's something of a faff for a flaky signal. If you're considering a MiFi just for use with an iPad then, we'd spend the extra C note on the 3G tablet instead.