The Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile router shares the same hardware as the Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot with different branding and slightly different service and pricing.
At $100, the device is actually more expensive than it seems when you factor in the required data plan by Sprint. The plan costs $60 a month with a 5GB data cap. If you go over 5GB, you'll have to pay an extra $0.05 per megabyte. This is similar to the top plan offered by Verizon for its MiFi 2200. However, unlike Sprint, Verizon also offers another two tiers of service where you get a smaller quota per month but pay more for the device itself and for each megabyte that's over the limit.
Data plans aside, as a mobile broadband router, the Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 is great product. It's tiny and offers instant Internet access the moment you turn it on and works with up to five Wi-Fi devices. Considering the fact that one can have more than one device nowadays, for example a laptop and a smartphone, five is a rather limited number. Unlike the Verizon version, it also has built-in GPS so you can search for points of interest near your current location as long as you have cellular coverage.
The Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 is compact and thin enough for you to slide into your pocket or even keep in your wallet, and the minimalist design means there isn't much to learn as far as operation.
There's big round button on the face of the device that turns the device on and off and also doubles as an indicator light. The light is solid green when the device is on, red when the battery is low, and flashes red when it's charging. There's another tiny LED on the side of the device that shines solid green when the device is connected to the Internet and flashes green when there are data activities.
The mobile router comes with a charger that connects to its Micro-USB port on the side and a carrying pouch. Unlike its counterpart from Verizon, the Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 doesn't include a USB cable for you to connect it to a computer.
Setup is a snap. Sprint activates the device, and once you receive it, all you have to do is turn it on and you have yourself a wireless network--that's it.
Once turned on, you can use a laptop or any Wi-Fi-enabled device to access the Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200's default network name, which is "Sprint MiFi2200 F68 Secure" and the default encryption key. These default settings might vary from one unit to another, but you can change the router's settings to your liking.
To do this, you just need to log in to the router's Web interface via the default IP address 192.168.0.1, which is similar to the way most regular-size wireless routers work.
Given its tiny size, we were impressed with what the MiFi 2200 offers via its Web interface. You'll find regular features including the ability to change the SSID, the encryption key, the default gateway IP address, and so on. Other than that, we also found advanced features such as Port Forwarding, which allows you to set up special Internet applications, such as FTP server, HTTP server, or remote desktop connection. The Web-interface itself was well-organized and responsive, and works with various browsers.
The router also has built-in GPS that allows you to find points on interest, such as restaurants, banks, hotels and, of course, Sprint stores, near your location using the Web interface. This actually is a very useful feature, especially when you are in a new town or unfamiliar territory.
For security, the MiFi 2200 features both WEP and WPA encryption. 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.
The Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile is not a regular wireless router; therefore we didn't stack it against others. However, we did put it through similar set of tests and were generally happy with it.
Featuring the older Wireless-G standard that caps at 54Mbps, the MiFi 2200's wireless LAN throughput performance was around 2Mbps, which was slower than the 5Mbps of the Verizon counterpart. This speed means you don't want to use it as a reliable way to transfer a decent amount of data between devices. However, it's still fast enough to share the Internet connection.
In our Internet connection tests, Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 offered around 550Kbps for both download and upload speeds. These are in line with what Sprint claims, but lower than the 1,000Kbps of the Verizon unit. Nonetheless, in tests where we streamed live video, the Sprint Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 did very well. Overall the device offers a decent Internet connection, comparable to a low-end DSL line.
The Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile router's battery life is about the same as the Verizon's counterpart. During heavy use, it lasted for about three and half hours but could last much longer with just intermediate use. The device takes a couple of hours to fully charge from completely dead.
We tried the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile router around the San Francisco Bay Area, both indoors and outdoors, and the coverage was consistently good. We didn't run into any dead zones.
The Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 has a range of about 30 feet, which is short but long enough for a close proximity such as a car or a van.
Overall, we were happy with Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile router's performance, though we wished it were faster and supported more devices at a time. However, considering its physical size, what it has to offer is already very impressive.