Over the past few months we’ve been consistently impressed by Verizon’s new 4G LTE networks. With download speeds approaching 20Mbps and upload speeds hanging somewhere between 5 and 10Mbps, what’s not to like? The latest mobile hotspot offering from Samsung packs all that 4G goodness in a compact device smaller than a deck of playing cards. It brings reasonable battery life, ease of use, and most importantly, 4G speeds to users on the go.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of using a mobile hotspot, picture a stack of business cards about one half inch in height. This little guy is just that, little. It’s this combination of small size and simplicity that that makes it such an ideal device for travel. To get things going, all that is required is a simple push of the power button. The status indicators blink and change colors, eventually (and hopefully) turning green, alerting you to the fact that it has locked on to a high quality 4G network. After that, it’s just a matter of pointing your computer or mobile device at the wireless network.
What we liked
The bottom line is this: so long as you are inside a 4G network (we did our testing in Boston) you will be impressed with the download and upload speeds of this device. In testing, we never dipped below 10Mbps and often times topped out at around 20. Upload speeds were equally as good, with the normal range falling between 4 and 6Mbps. Ping times were usually around 50 milliseconds. To put this into comparison, a home wireless network is typically around 30 - but this number varies widely depending on distance from access point, computer or device being used, etc. In use, we never noticed a feeling of latency greater than a standard home network.
Many of us have seen what happens when we use our cell phone’s internal hotspot capabilities. They a) get really hot and b) never last longer than an hour or two. With the LC11 we generally observed run times well over three hours. Given the small size of the device, this seemed like an impressive stat. While it would have been nice to push into the 4-5 hour territory, we didn’t often find ourselves away from a USB port or AC outlet.
4G network is limited
While the jaw-dropping speeds had us giddy in the office, once we hit the open roads and took the device 35 miles outside of Boston, we soon found ourselves in 3G territory. The good news is this transition is seamless. However, moving from 3G to 4G does not happen in such an elegant fashion. In fact, the only way were able to do so was via power cycling the device.
Basic status indicators
While the array of multicolor LEDs does an acceptable job at providing status of signal strength, network, and battery life, an actual LCD screen would have been better. We would have liked to see a text display showing actual signal strength and percentage of battery life remaining. It’s no deal breaker, but one for the “nice to have” list.
If you’re in the market for a wireless hotspot (in one of the areas blanketed by Verizon’s 4G network), than look no further than the Samsung LC11. The combination of form factor, battery life, and speed are hard to beat. While we did notice some flaky connection issues here and there, overall the connection was consistent and fast. Whether you need a hotspot for work or pleasure - tablet or PC, this is where it’s at. Just be mindful of that 4GB data cap!