What if you could create the Internet in your pocket wherever you went? A pocket Hotspot? Hang on, that sounds dirty.
Now you can be your own mobile hotspot. Some cell phone plans allow you to make a ‘mobile hotspot’ out of your phone. I recently enjoyed using my boyfriend’s phone this way on road trips in the car.
But for a gal that saves a ton of money each month on having a ‘pay as you go’ cell phone plan…I only pay for phone calls and texts, I have no data. So up until now, I was only able to surf the Internet when I had free wifi access – like in my home or at Starbucks.
Then Netzero came into my life. You may remember them from years ago offering dial-up plans. In fact, I think my mom still uses them in her tiny town in Colorado for her sluggish dial-up home internet.
The Netzero Hotspot
The Netero 4G Hotspot is a square device about the size of a hockey puck (which if it were square, of course, it wouldn’t work too well). This portable gadget lets you hook up eight devices (phones, laptops, tablets, etc) at once to use its internet gathering magic in more than 80 cities across the U.S. So now you don’t have to go somewhere with wifi…you are the wifi.
Right now the Hotspot is just $49 bucks (with a paid plan)! Of course, you do have to then purchase a plan in order to use it. Plans range from $0 for a minute amount of data to $50 per month for 4000MB of data at high speed.
Netzero currently uses the Clear network so if you are in a major city area…you are fine.
You should definitely check their mapped area before investing in this device.
For me, as a traveler, it was interesting to test it out over a few months when I was in various parts of the U.S. I was able to use it in my hometown of Chicago, in Los Angeles, and in Philadelphia. Now, since I do not have data on my phone, the Netzero hotspot was a joy to me to use in places like Chicago’s O’Hare Airport which still stubbornly does not offer free wifi (although I recently heard a rumor that most US airports will finally offer free wifi – LA, Dallas, Minneapolis, BWI, Atlanta are all supposed to have it by year’s end). At LAX, I also fired it up and voila! I was up and running on the interwebs. For many this might not be that novel, but for me, someone who does not pay for data on her phone, it was great to be able to check emails and do some quick social media posts. Plus I was able to open up my laptop as well and get online – something usually tricky at many airports in the U.S. that seem to only offer ‘paid’ internet access, like Newark International and O’Hare, two airports that I fly to and from all the time.
It is also nice to use while on the bus or train or even better, waiting for the bus on the street in Chicago. Now I have internet so I can use one of those handy apps to see when the next bus is coming. This is great.
It did not work for me in the far out West burbs of Central New Jersey. I knew it was the sticks! But back in civilization in Philadelphia it worked like a charm.
That being said, the speed is just not fast enough to ever replace my home internet as I’d sort of hoped. But it’s great as a backup and in outside situations for a person like me that doesn’t have data and usually just uses free wifi when I find it. Plus now, I can go to ANY café to work from my laptop, not just starbucks or those with free wifi.
The only main issue I have with it…is it running out of battery. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was preserving battery or off… until I realized, if it’s on…it’s always ‘working’ to stay connected. So when you are not using it, best to turn it off and keep it charged.
Disclaimer: NetZero provided me with a 4G Hotspot with one year of service. As usual, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.