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Saturday, December 10, 2016

JioFi 2 MiFi portable hotspot: Bundled content makes for an attractive package

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is what I would normally tell you and this is more so in the case of wireless networks. So when I received the JioFi 2 MiFi portable hotspot and logged in, I was in awe of the speeds I could see right there on my connected smartphone. But as I just said, it is hard to tell. Right now, this is just “the cover”, as Jio’s 4G network has yet to go public. And that is indeed the true test for any 4G network.

For those who have been living under a rock, JioFi 2 can be purchased at Rs 2,899 from a Reliance Digital Store. What you get with this pebble-shaped device, is a free Jio SIM card, unlimited internet access, HD voice calling and unlimited access to Jio apps for 90 days. The MiFi device was announced shortly after Jio opened up its 4G network to Samsung smartphone owners.

With that said I have been using the JioFi 2 hotspot for a while now and these are my first impressions.

Design and Hardware


The JioFi 2 MiFi hotspot is tiny. Tiny enough to fit in the change pocket of my jeans. This also translates to better portability. Meaning you can carry it around all day, without even noticing that it right there in your pocket connecting everything from your smartphone to your tablet down to the laptop on your table.


While it is heavier and thicker compared to competitor offerings from Airtel and Vodafone, it does pack in more, so I will excuse the bulk. Still then, you get a rounded pebble-shaped design from the back that gets chopped off on the front, and this is where all the indicators are placed.

The JioFi 2 is made entirely of plastic that also features a removable back cover that gives you access to a microSD card slot (up to 32GB), SIM slot and the removable battery. The 2,300 mAh battery can be charged using the micro USB port available on the right side of the device.


Hidden beneath the shiny black front face are 4 LED indicators that show the status of the network’s connectivity, mobile data, Wi-Fi connectivity and WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). While the 4 LED indicators to do with networks sit above the Jio logo, there is another three-bar battery indicator that sits to the right of the power button.


Coming to the buttons, there are just two. A power button to boot up the MiFi hotspot that sits on the front face and a WPS on/off button that sits on the left side of the device. The power button also features an LED indicator that blinks from time to time to indicate whether the device is on or off.

Except for the LED in the power button, all of the above mentioned LEDs remain off until you press down on the power button to check the status of your connections.

As for connectivity, the MiFi hotspot supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi standards.

Operation and Features

Using the JioFi 2 is fairly easy. You simply insert the SIM card, and press the power button on the front of the device, to boot the MiFi hotspot. It takes about 5-10 seconds to boot up and connect to the Jio 4G network. The network indicator cycles from red to green and then the Wi-Fi indicator turns on, indicating that the JioFi 2 is ready to share it data connection. Post this you simply connect your device (smartphone, tablet or laptop) to by turning on its Wi-Fi network and entering the password, and you are good to go.


While I did say that the device was a bit chunky, I also mentioned that it does pack in more. Unlike most MiFi devices, the JioFi 2 lets you share internet connection with up t0 31 users. This is probably the reason why, it also features a bigger battery compared to the rest of the competition. I did notice how the video streaming quality did deteriorate when more people connected to the hotspot. Overall, I managed to get speeds of up to 22 Mbps around our office premises in Mumbai.


Unlike most other MiFi devices, you also get a microSD card slot that can accept cards of up to 32GB in capacity. The same works well when it comes to the wireless sharing through SD card feature where users connected to the same hotspot can easily share and transfer files between the devices using the JioFi 2’s microSD card as the host.

One point to note, is that the hotspot automatically disconnects (indicator turns blue) from the Jio network when not in use. While it makes for a great power saving feature, your device does get disconnected from the internet until you press power button to quick connect once again.

Bundled Software


Download the JioJoin app from the Google Play Store, and you also get access to Jio Voice calls using a smartphone without a SIM card inside. The calls worked fine but it depends on the receiver’s operator. Vodafone did not work while calls to Airtel routed just fine.

And with the JioFi 2 I also got access to the collection of Jio app on the Google Play and the App Store. There’s a tonne of content available with each app and accessing them on the 20Mbps bandwidth meant that watching live TV or other shows was a great experience without any buffering. There’s also JioMags, JioPlay, JioBeats and lots more in terms of content. Live TV however was the one that I found myself fiddling with the most.

Conclusion

All in all, buying just the MiFi hotspot and getting access to so much free content, seemed like a really good idea. In fact, I found myself browsing through the various apps more than the internet when connected to the JioFi 2.


As mentioned earlier in this article, this is simply the beginning and Jio’s 4G network has yet to go public. The cracks of which will only be visible when millions hop on board and stress the network. For now its all easy peasy and the service (and the content) seemed good enough to convince many of my colleagues to rush to a store and buy one, even if it was just for the 90 day trial period.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries owns Network18 which also publishes Firstpost.com (tech2)
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