The Verizon Wireless Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L is the second of the two Jetpack routers the company unveiled back at CES 2012, the other being the excellently rated Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless. Coming out just a bit later, the 890L is totally different in terms of shape and size, being much larger and much prettier.
It's very similar in the rest, however, offering very fast and reliable 4G connection (at least where I tested it) and a very helpful LCD that shows all you want to know about your network and wireless connections at a glance. It also 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, however, costs just $20 if you're willing to sign up for a two-year contract, a very good deal, considering how pretty it is.
The 890L does lacks a few features that the 4620L offers, including the omission of GPS, the optional extended battery, and the external antennae port. None for these is essential for traveler, however.
If you're a frequent traveler and don't mind playing for the expensive and limited data plans, the Verizon Wireless Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L will make an excellent investment. Also consider the 4620L and, if you want a better deal in terms of data monthly cost with the tradeoff of not having 3G network access, the Clear Spot Voyager.
The Verizon Wireless Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L is easily the best-looking mobile router on the market, and it's almost the biggest one, too. It's a flat, square box that's 3.5 inches on each side and 0.71 inch thick and weighs some 4.8 ounces. That said, it's still a very small device, more reminiscent of a makeup compact than a router with its shiny black top (you can almost use it as a mirror) and bottom and the bright red rim.
The good news is it doesn't just look good.
On top the router has a small square LCD that shows all you need to know, such as the number of connected Wi-Fi devices, the 3G/4G signal strength, the battery gauge, and so on. This screen turns itself off after 30 seconds and will go back on immediately when you hit the OK button below it. On either side of the OK button are up and down buttons that help dig deeper into the settings of the device; in fact, you can change many of its settings using these buttons. I find this an excellent design for a mobile router, since you won't have to bother with its Web interface most of the time. The Web interface, though, is pretty great; you can find out more below.
On the top side, the 890L has a power slider. This is the first time I've seen a mobile router use a slider as power switch; in the rest of the routers I've reviewed, there's a button you need to press and hold to turn the device on or off. With the 890L, you just need to slide it the on or off position. This way, there's no way you can turn it on or off by accident. The router took just a few seconds to turn on and get connected in my testing, by the way.
Next to the power switch, you'll find a Micro-USB port for charging via an included USB cable and power adapter. This port only works for charging in my trials, even when connected to a computer. The router didn't seem to work as cellular modem, like the case of the 4620L, when connected to a computer.
The router's battery bay, like that of many mobile routers, is accessible by opening its bottom cover. Here you'll find a 1,700 mAh lithium ion battery that offered about 6 hours of continuous usage on one charge. That was slightly longer than other mobile routers, but I was hoping it would last even longer, considering its size. Underneath the battery is the SIM card slot.
There's nothing to setting up the 890L; all you have to do is insert the SIM (in my case the SIM was already inside the router, right out of the box) and turn it on. After that, you can use the information printed on the bottom of the router, also under the bottom cover near the battery, to get Wi-Fi devices connected to its network. You can change this default Wi-Fi network name and password (encryption key) later if you want by using the router's Web interface.
To access the router's Web interface, you point a connected computer's browser to its default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1 (the default log-in password is the same as the default Wi-Fi password). Here you can also access the router's other features.