Editors' note: This review was updated on July 3 to correct the information about the included extended battery. The double-capacity battery is not included but is available at select stores as an optional accessory.
The Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless is the latest mobile hot spot from Verizon and it's quite an upgrade from the previous one, Samsung's Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11, which I reviewed last year.
Though the new mobile router is slightly larger, it comes with lots of improvements, such as faster speeds, much longer battery life, and a much better design. It also includes a built-in WI-Fi-shareable GPS feature and can host up to 10 devices at a time (up from the SCH-LC11's five).
The MiFi 4620L, however, shares the same data plans as other 3G/4G-capable mobile routers from Verizon that start at a hefty $50 per month for a 5GB data cap. The router itself costs just $50 if you're willing to sign up for a two-year contract, or $270 if you're not.
That said, if you're a business user who needs a mobile router to supply a fast Internet connection while being on the go for an extended amount of time, the MiFi 4620L for now is one of the best choices. Those who want to pay less for an unlimited data plan with the tradeoff of not having 3G network access should also check out the Clear Spot Voyager.
Measuring 3.76 inches by 2.36 inches by 0.53 inch, and weighing just 3.2 ounces, the MiFi 4620L is about the same size as the SCH-LC11. The new router comes with an extra 3,000mAh (double-capacity) battery as an option, which will increase its thickness and weight slightly when used. But even then, it's still quite compact, fitting right into any pocket. Note that this extra battery might not be available for purchase at all Verizon stores.
On top the router has a small OLED screen that shows a lot of information, such as a battery gauge, the number of connected Wi-Fi clients, cellular signal strength, and so on. There are also navigation buttons with which to access even more information via the tiny screen. This is a huge improvement over the Samsung, which doesn't even have a battery gauge.
On one side, the router has a power button that you press once to turn it on or wake it up. To turn it off, you'll need to press and hold it for a few seconds. By default, the router automatically goes in to sleep mode when idle for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, pressing the power button is the only way to wake it up. Other routers, such as the Clear Spot 4G Apollo, will wake up by themselves when there's a connection request. I found that there's no way to change this with the MiFi 4620L, so make sure you don't leave it somewhere out of reach, such as in the trunk of the car.
On the other side are an external antenna port and a standard Micro-USB port for charging via a power adapter (included) and connecting the router to a computer via a USB cable (not included). When connected to a computer, by default, the router only charges its battery by drawing juice from the USB port. You can use its Web interface to change the settings so that it also works as a tethered USB modem. In this case the router can work as a modem and a router at the same time.
To access the router's battery bay, you lift up the bottom cover. The router comes with a choice of two bottom covers to accommodate the different thickness of the two batteries. When the cover is removed, you'll find the default Wi-Fi network's name and its password. This same information is also printed on the back of one of the battery bay covers and is what you need to use the device. All you have to do is turn it on and hook Wi-Fi devices to the network with the provided information and you are set.
Underneath the battery, you'll find a micro-SIM card slot currently hosting a Verizon 4G SIM card. This is the first mobile router I've seen that uses micro-SIM cards, like the iPhone 4 and 4S do.
To access the router's Web interface, you point a connected computer's browser to its default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1 (the default log-in password is the same as the default Wi-Fi password). Here you can change the Wi-Fi password and the name of its Wi-Fi network, and you have access to the router's many features.