As a travelling family, Sprint offered us the opportunity to try out the 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot while on the go these past few months. Whether it’s been in airports, on trains, buses - even on a 12-hour family road trip from NYC to Chicago - having an internet connection to stay in touch with work throughout our travels was vital to our careers.
If you’re not already familiar with the tri-fi hotspot, it's a small wireless device that you can throw in your bag and depending on your location, the hotspot will kick in to either a 3G or 4G mode automatically. What makes Sprint’s 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot different is that it’s a “first-ever device” that gives you access to Sprint’s 3G, 4G WiMAX and 4G LTE network for internet connectivity. So depending on where you are, you could have speedy connection speeds while on the go.
One big negative to just using your smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot feature is that it just sucks the life out of the battery. So when we started using the Tri-Fi Hotspot, we were blown away. By putting it in auto power save mode when the Tri-Fi isn’t connected, you can get hours of connection time before you need to plug it back in - we made it through two days of press conferences during the grand opening of Fantasyland at Walt Disney World! Terrific for long and busy travel days.
The only downside we found was that the Tri-Fi Hotspot is too bulky to slip into your jeans pocket, at about 2-3x the thickness of a current mobile phone. Which didn't bother me, as I just slipped it into my purse or camera bag.
In major metro areas like New York City the service was blazingly fast. However, while commuting in between less populated areas, at major airports (JFK, McCarran and Orlando Int’l), and driving the more rural areas between New York and Chicago, the fastest we were able to muster was 3G service.
We could take this with us everywhere we went, and there was solid coverage. In most cases when the Tri-Fi Hotspot had spotty reception, so did our Verizon and AT&T devices. (I mean really remote areas, like driving along I-80 through the Wilds of Pennsylvania. ;-) ) While the 3G service delivered good performance, the 4G service coverage wasn’t nearly as frequent as we were hoping, but as Sprint expands its 4G service area, this should only improve as time goes on. Not a deal breaker.
Using the Sprint Tri-Fi Hotspot on Disney's Magical Express Bus to WDW
If you're interested in buying a mobile hotspot, you can purchase the 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot on Sprint.com for $99.99 or from Amazon Wireless for $0.01 both require a two-year contract, and you’ll get 3G/4G/4G LTE service, 6 menus of information within the built-in screen (like data consumption, battery life, days left in your billing cycle, and active network status), and built in GPS services so you can use it for location-based navigation when it’s plugged into your laptop.
Or you can purchase the newly released Overdrive Pro 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot for $49.99 with a two-year service plan, but this device doesn’t have 4G LTE or GPS capabilities – if you don’t live in a 4G LTE network area, and GPS isn’t important to you, this could be an alternative option.
Data plans range from $34.99 for a 3GB per month plan (which should be sufficient for most people) all the way up to $79.99 for a 12GB plan,