Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem
Telstra's new portable Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem includes a colour touch screen and LTE-Advanced
- Good battery life
- Fast 4G speeds
- Excellent touch screen
- LTE Advanced in infancy
Telstra's new portable Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem includes a colour touch screen and is one of the first hotspot devices globally to support an LTE-Advanced network. It offers excellent speeds provided you are in a 4G coverage zone, though it's certainly not cheap.
Price$ 218.00 (AUD)
Telstra's new portable Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem includes a colour touch screen and is one of the first hotspot devices globally to support an LTE-Advanced network. It offers excellent speeds provided you are in a 4G coverage zone, though it certainly doesn't come cheap.
Colour touch screen makes for ease of use
The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced is a battery powered, portable modem manufactured by Netgear. It allows up to 15 Wi-Fi enabled devices to connect to it wirelessly for shared mobile Internet access through Telstra's 4G network. The modem uses dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity.
A Wi-Fi, portable modem like the 4G Advanced is one of the best ways to create a hotspot in your car to keep friends and family connected to the Web on long trips. Furthermore, it's also good way to stay online if you're a contractor and want an easy way to distribute an Internet connection to a laptop or tablet while on a worksite.
The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced is a fairly simple device that's slightly larger than a full deck of cards in both height and width. It's constructed from soft feeling, metallic-look plastic, though a chrome strip runs around the edge of the modem in an attempt to add a touch of class. The corners of the device are smooth and round which makes it comfortable to hold, and we also like the four small plastic feet on the bottom, which prevents the modem from sliding around on a desk or table.
The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced only has a single power button on the top. Two antenna sockets on the bottom allow users to boost reception in flaky coverage areas if needed, and a micro-USB port handles charging. If the battery is flat the modem can be connected to a computer via the included USB cable and used as a wired modem.
Interestingly, the Wi-Fi 4G Advanced uses a micro-SIM card instead of the traditional mini-SIM, which is concealed by a plastic flap on the bottom. There's also no microSD card slot, which is a feature that's traditionally common on these sorts of devices.
The best feature of the Wi-Fi 4G Advanced is a 2.4in colour touch screen, the first of its kind we've seen on a Wi-Fi modem in Australia. The screen allows users to manage advanced settings without the need to access the traditional Web interface. You can change the SSID name and network password, manage Wi-Fi profiles including a guest mode, and extend the default Wi-Fi range all on the modem itself.
The screen uses resistive, rather than capacitive touch technology, but we found it responsive to use and the interface is relatively snappy. The resistive technology also means you can use a fingertip or nail tip to make selections, something you can't do on a capacitive screen.
The screen displays plenty of information at a glance including signal strength, the number of devices connected, a battery level indicator, and the SSID network name. It can display your network password so you don't have to remember it every time you want to connect a new device, though this can be hidden if you're concerned about security.
Telstra has also included a data use indicator in the middle of the screen, which shows how much data you've consumed on your plan, and how many days are left in the month before your plan rolls over. It's great to be able to see this information without the need to log into any seperate interface.
Telstra claims the Wi-Fi 4G Advanced portable Wi-Fi modem is one of the first hotspot devices globally to support an LTE-Advanced network. The LTE-Advanced network uses both 900MHz and 1800MHz 4G spectrum bands in Australia, effectively glueing two bands of spectrum together in a process called carrier aggregation.
However, while the Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem effectively supports LTE-A, Telstra hasn't activated it yet for consumer use. The network is currently being trialled in Queensland's Sunshine Coast and Telstra expects to begin rolling it out in 2014. So, for now at least, LTE Advanced is more of a future proof feature.
The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem is marketed as a 4G device, but it uses both 3G and 4G technology. If you move out of an area with 4G coverage it falls back onto the company's regular Next G network, supporting HSPA+ dual channel speeds of 1.1 megabits per second (Mbps) to 20Mbps.
The Wi-Fi 4G Advanced promises "typical" download speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 50Mbps when in a 4G coverage zone. These are best case scenarios though, and the results we achieved were less, albeit still pretty impressive. Like all mobile broadband products, the speed of the modem will depend on a number of factors including time, location, network coverage, signal strength and congestion. Telstra's 4G coverage is currently pretty extensive but you obviously don't get 4G coverage everywhere.
If you happen to be in a 4G coverage zone, however, you can expect impressive speeds. We managed to achieve a top download speed of over 40Mbps, though speeds generally hovered between 22Mbps and 31Mbps on most occasions. Upload speeds during testing peaked at around 15.8Mbps (higher than Telstra's quoted 10Mbps). Telstra's 4G network is pretty reliable and coverage is extensive: on a regular train trip from Sydney's western suburbs to North Sydney, we only experienced two small network blackspots.
A newer version of this modem has been reviewed. Click here to read our full findings
In our tests, the Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced offered impressive battery life. We found it lasted around eight hours before needing to be recharged. This is two short of the 10 hours Telstra quotes on its specifications sheet but it's far more than most competing devices on the market. A nice touch is the included "jump boost cable", which plugs into the micro-USB port and allows users to fast charge a smartphone.
The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced modem is available in Australia now on a range of 24 month consumer and business plans. The modem is priced at $6 per month on a $50 Telstra Mobile Broadband plan over 24 months, with 8GB of data included per month.
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