NetComm MyZone 3G Wi-Fi router

The NetComm MyZone scores points for its stylish, compact design and ease of use, though its speed could be improved.

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NetComm MyZone
  • NetComm MyZone
  • NetComm MyZone
  • NetComm MyZone

Pros

  • Compact size, ease of use and set-up, connects up to 10 devices, excellent UI, advanced set-up options available

Cons

  • Doesn't work with 900MHz networks, slightly slower than regular USB modems

Bottom Line

NetComm's MyZone 3G Wi-Fi router scores points for its stylish, compact design and ease of use, with a particularly impressive set up process. If you're looking for a portable Internet solution, then it's hard to ignore, even if its speed could be improved.

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A mobile 3G Wi-Fi router that will initially be sold exclusively through official Apple retail stores, NetComm's MyZone has been touted by the company as an ideal accessory for the Apple iPad tablet. The MyZone scores points for its stylish, compact design and ease of use, though its speed could be improved.

The NetComm MyZone 3G Wi-Fi router is about the same size as about 10 credit cards stacked on top of each other, making it one of the most compact devices in its class. A glossy black finish on the front combined with chrome edging and a matte black rear add a touch of class, and NetComm has also includes a convenient flip out stand so the MyZone can sit upright on a table or desk. The MyZone's small dimensions make it an impressive device — it can easily be slipped into your pocket or bag, so you can essentially carry a wireless network with you wherever you go. We didn't like the power switch though: you have to slide and hold it for a few seconds to turn the device on or off.

The MyZone is powered by a lithium-ion battery that NetComm says will provide four to six hours of use. It can be recharged via the included standard microUSB cable, and NetComm also bundles an AC adapter in the sales package. During testing, we found the MyZone lasted almost four and a half hours before requiring a recharge, with both an iPad and a notebook connected during this time.

NetComm claims the MyZone features a simple user interface that makes it easy for non-technical people to set up. Simply insert your SIM card, slide the power switch on, scan for the network on your device (the default network name is NetComm MyZone), enter the default password provided in the instructions and the MyZone is ready to be used. The MyZone works with standard SIM cards only (not the microSIMs designed for the Apple iPad) and will work with all Australian networks including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and 3 mobile. Unfortunately, the MyZone will not operate on Vodafone and Optus' new 900MHz network, instead using the standard 2100MHz networks for these carriers.

Though the MyZone is designed to work out of the box, once you're up and connected you can change the MyZone's settings by accessing NetComm's Web-based interface. Available by typing http://my.zone into your browser, the interface allows you to change the name of your network (SSID), change your password, and configure advanced wireless and 3G settings. This UI will also display the MyZone's current battery level, its 3G signal strength, and your carrier and SIM status.

The NetComm MyZone's Internet connection can be shared with up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices including smartphones, iPad's, notebooks and gaming consoles. Obviously the quality and speed of the network will depend on a variety of factors, including your mobile network, the area you're in and how many users are connected to the MyZone simultaneously.

During our speed tests, the MyZone produced capable but not outstanding results. Using an iPad equipped with a Telstra Next G SIM card and the Speedtest.net application downloadable from the App Store, we achieved a top download speed of 2407 kilobits per second (Kbps) and a top upload speed of 2808Kbps. When using the iPad Wi-Fi+3G model connected to Telstra without the MyZone, we achieved significantly faster results — a top download speed of 3982Kbps, with similar upload speeds. The MyZone also suffers when three or more devices are connected and using the Internet simultaneously — in this case we found download speeds dropped to around 1.2 megabits per second (Mbps) in the worst case scenario.

The NetComm MyZone is available from all Apple's retail stores and its online store. The device will be sold exclusively in Apple stores for eight weeks; following this it will be available through NetComm's regular retail channels including Harvey Norman and Officeworks.

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Read more on these topics: Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, 3g, apple ipad, Networking, broadband, iPad, netcomm

Barry Rietz

1

I have used the "NetComm" wi-fi device for three months and there are two complaints that need to be addressed. The first is associated with battery which after "recharge" does not last longer than one and on-half hours. This limits the "portability" while traveling which its small size was intended to "enhance"! The second problem is with "sustaining" the password security application. After establishing the "SSID" name and password under "wireless tab", it does not continue to work!!! The network name displays but the "connection" occurs without the need for password???

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