If you like Clear's Apollo mobile hot spot, you'll probably love the Clear Spot Voyager. The new mobile hot spot is relatively tiny, just about the size of a very large pebble, and can provide unlimited and fast 4G cellular Internet access to up to eight Wi-Fi clients. For computers, whether Mac or Windows, that don't have a built-in Wi-Fi client, the router also works as USB 4G modem when plugged into a USB port. The device's battery lasted a good while in my testing and it comes with unlimited data plans that start at just $35 per month.
The Clear Spot Voyager is not perfect, however, lacking a clear battery life gauge and the support for 3G, making it useless when out of areas with 4G coverage. For its price of around $125 (no contract required), however, it will make an excellent investment for those who live and travel within Clear's 4G coverage. If you travel more widely and want a 4G device that also supports 3G, which is more ubiquitous, I'd recommend the T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile HotSpot.
Design, ease of use, and features
The new Voyager is just about a fifth of the physical size of the Apollo, while offering almost all its functions.
On one side of the Voyager is a tiny power button that you need to press and hold for a few seconds to turn the device on or off. There are also three tiny LED dots that change from green to amber to red to show the status of power, the Wi-Fi network, and the 4G network. And that's all you have if you want to know about the condition of the device. For example, the power LED shows solid green when the battery is full, amber when there's about 50 percent left, and red when the battery is about to run out. While this is helpful, it would be better to have a gauge that showed the level of the battery more precisely.
On another side, the Voyager has a microSD port for charging. The router comes with a standard microSD cable and can be charged via an adapter (included) or via a computer's USB port. When plugged into a computer running Windows Vista or later, or Mac OS 10.6 or later, apart from charging, the Voyager also instantly becomes an Internet source, much like when you connect the computer to an Ethernet port, without any software required. A Windows XP computer, however, will require driver software that can be downloaded from Clear.
I noticed that the Voyager can work both as a modem (when plugged into a computer) and a Wi-Fi router at the same time. If you want to use it just as a modem, the Wi-Fi network can be turned off via its Web interface.
On the bottom of the Voyager, along with the chart that shows the meanings of the indicator LED lights, you'll find the default Wi-Fi network and its encryption key. With this information, all you need to do is turn it on and you are all set. There's no other setup required to use the device.