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Travel tech tip #3 - Get a unlocked data roaming WiFi hotspot device

OK so disclosure upfront, if you haven't already noticed, I've got a data addiction.
Yep I'm a mobile data junkie, and I need my hit no matter which country I'm in.


I think it really stems back to the convenience of having my devices work how I'm used to using them. Without that, that $1,000 bit of hardware in your pocket called a 'smartphone' quickly becomes very dumb.


So that all being said -and the point of this blog post- what is the most handy bit of hardware you can have up your sleeve when travelling overseas? 


Look no further than an unlocked Huawei E5372.
I've been hunting around for something like this for over 4 or 5 years.
Traditionally mobile hotspots have been pretty lacking on a number of fronts.


Pro's & Con's
Let us start with a few of the traditional problems:
- Lack of battery life
- Lack of compatible network bandwidths ie. only 1/2 of 3G bands
- Expensive relative to a phone ($150+)
- No horsepower under the hood (despite draining its battery in a flash)


And lets counter with what the E5372 data hotspot can offer on each of these fronts:
> 3560 mAh battery (more than twice most others on the market)
> Quad-band GSM 3G, and as if that wasn't enough 4G/LTE too!
> sub-AUD$120 range
> Zippy data transmission and did I mention the quad-band LTE/4G?


But what does all that mean?
The real bigger kicker that overlays all this wonderful tech capability is what it means to you as the end user...getting connected on pretty much any phone network anywhere in the world, with plenty of fast data (as long as you have a good data SIM card that is!), and not running out of battery in a flash. How can verify all these claims? Well not only thats what it says on the box - I've been using one of these bad boys for the last couple of weeks, and even writing/publishing this blog post on it now! god damn, its actually 3 times the speed of my local ADSL2+ home broadband connection (45+ mbps Vs struggle street 12 mbps).


A few extra points!
Network strength
One of the big things in using these types of devices is what the telco/SIM/network signal is like in your area. That example above is the device running on an Australian Telstra SIM card and their slick LTE/4G network which is damn quick. If your network is only running 3G, or at lower speeds - thats all you are going to get sorry! 


But really, decent 3G is not too shabby in terms of end usability. As more 4G/LTE rolls out across Australia and the rest of the world - consider it a hedge of being somewhat future proofed. The other technical side point on LTE capability is the specific bands which it runs (B1, B3, B7, B8) - this isn't every LTE band in the book, but its a good mix of the main ones, backed up by having quadband 4G on 900/1800/2100/2600MHz.

APN setting
This could probably have been in the gripes of the traditional hotspot/mifi devices.
Basically you have to have the right APN set (specific for each telco), for the data to flow.
My new friend the E5372 helps us out big-time by automatically sensing and using the correct APN for the telco signal it is receiving. This is a big bonus for any globe trotting traveller.
Of course it still has a web interface to program and set it manually if there is a glitch or need to do so, as is the case for currently using a Globalgig SIM in Australia (see full steps setting APN here). My understanding is that the SIM seems to be picking up their standard international APN (for outside Aust: mbb.voiamo.net) when instead you need a special APN for Aust (connect)- but the Globalgig guys tell me they are working on resolution to this.


Summary
Well if you hadn't already got the picture - I'm impressed enough to stock this device as it ticks the boxes better then anything else I know of for:
- price
- compatibility
- usability and speed

This data addict is all in.

Got a question on the unlocked Huawei E5372 roaming hotspot? or know of something better for the money? let us know in the comments!


Written by Peter Cain

Peter Cain is the Founder and CEO of dataGO.co, a company committed to making it easier and cheaper to stay connected whilst travelling. You can find him on Twitter and Google+. You can also find dataGO on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+ for all the latest info on local and roaming SIMs and data hotspots.


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