Review: Clear Spot Voyager 4G wifi hotspot
I'm constantly on the go and with just about every site I visit available via secure SSL connection, I typically just tap into the available public wifi network. But when there isn't a network available or when it's creeping along abysmally slowly, it's nice to have a backup plan. A perfect use for a 4G wifi hotspot from one of the cellular provider: assuming you have a good cell signal, it uses the cellular network and creates its own portable wifi hotspot.
I've been very happy with the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot [see: Review: T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot] and at $49.99 refurbished ($124 new) and $35/mo for 3GB of data, it's not a bad deal for us road warriors.
Enter upstart telecom provider Clear and the Clear Spot Voyager 4G wifi hotspot. It's definitely a lovely piece of engineering, but how does it compare?
The real test of any wifi hotspot is whether it can find a cellular signal and lock on when you're on the road or somewhere else where there's no available network to tap into. While our test facilities are near the major Front Range city of Denver, Colorado, they're still about 25mi away, in Boulder, Colorado. A high-tech mecca, we're also used to having mediocre cellular coverage, whether it's AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or any of the other major carriers.
And in this regard, unfortunately, the Clear Spot Voyager did poorly, unable to hook on to any cellular signal in Boulder. Examination of their signal coverage map suggested that Boulder's on the edge of their supported area and discussion with the Clear tech team confirmed that Boulder customers have a hard time with signal strength.
To give it a fair shake, I drove into Denver and powered it up again. After a veritable Christmas celebration of flashing lights, it finally found a signal and allowed me to connect to it via wifi from my MacBook Pro for testing. Bandwidth and performance, however, was nothing to write home about, as you can see in this speedtest:
By comparison, in exactly the same location, here's the result of a bandwidth test for the T-Mobile 4G hotspot:
And for completeness sake, here's the provided wifi bandwidth from AT&T at the REI Starbucks just west of downtown:
As you can see, the T-Mobile offers the best throughput, with the Clear Spot Voyager barely a fraction of the performance. That's a big gap, we're not talking a 4sec download instead of a 3sec download, we're talking a visible lag on every Internet action and a painfully slow experience surfing the net.
Price-wise, both 4G hotspots are quite similar, with T-Mobile offering its (larger) unit for $49 refurbished and service plans ranging from $25/mo for 1.5GB data to $35/mo for 3.5GB and $50/mo for 5GB data. Clear sells the Spot Voyager for $49 and its service plans range from $19.99/mo for 2GB to $34.99/mo for 4GB and $49.99 for unlimited bandwidth.
In a different city your experience might be significantly better, of course, but here in Colorado the Clear did not impress and certainly didn't offer a good alternative to public wifi or the TMobile 4G Hotspot. As a result, while the device itself is beautifully engineered, we can't recommend the Spot Voyager based on our own tests and performance benchmarks.
More Useful Articles and Reviews Articles:
✔ Review: Verticus for iPad
iOS gamers everywhere are familiar with the genre of infinite forward progress apps - Mega Jump, Canabalt, and a host of other run/jump/fly-until-you-die...✔ Review: Clear Spot Voyager 4G wifi hotspot
Clear Voyager 4g HotspotI'm constantly on the go and with just about every site I visit available via secure SSL connection, I typically...✔ Review: Dropcam HD wifi video camera
Whether you're security paranoid, want to keep an eye on the nanny, have a summer or winter home you'd like to peek in...✔ Audiovox Car Connection Review
I have the smartest house on the block with a wifi-enabled thermostat and garage door opener, along with a complex web of wireless...✔ Review: Slingbox 500
I should start with a candid admission: I'm not a huge television watcher. I catch soccer matches on Fox Soccer Channel, and watch...
Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for my weekly AskDaveTaylor Newsletter and you'll receive even more tech and gadget help right to your inbox, along with exclusive news and industry updates. It's good stuff. I promise!
I do have a comment, now that you mention it!
Check This Out Too...
Look for Answers
All Our Categories
Apple iPad Help
Articles and Reviews
Auctions and Online Shopping
Blogs and Blogging
Building Web Site Traffic
Business and Management
Computer and Internet Basics
d) None of the Above
Google Gmail Help
Google Plus Help
Industry News and Trade Shows
iPhone and Cell Phone Help
iPod, Sony PSP and MP3 Player Help
Kindle Fire Help
Mac OS X Help
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shell Script Programming
Tech Support Video Help
The Writing Business
Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Network Help
Unix and Linux Help
Video Game Tips and Help
Windows PC Help
Find Me on Google+
ADT on G+