Clear Spot 4G+ Review and Report
The quest for online connectivity knows no end for the business traveler but sorting through confusing service plans, contracts, devices, and coverage is tricky. In addition, now that many road warriors carry multiple devices on trips, the cost for multiple mobile data contracts is adding up.
One solution is to carry a personal hotspot that allows any Wi-Fi-enabled device to access it. We tested the Clear Spot 4G+ from Clearwire Communications, a company that offers a variety of high-speed Internet plans in major markets such as Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, and covered a population of over 110 million at the end of last year. In areas where there is no 4G service, it automatically connects to 3G service.
The Clear Spot 4G+ is tiny and weighs only 127 g. It uses a mini-USB charger so it is likely the same charger that you are already carrying around for your mobile. It supports up to five devices, which can include tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, cameras, and of course laptops.
Setting the Clear Spot 4G+ up was easy. I simply charged it for several hours and then turned it on. I used it with a variety of devices including an IBM ThinkPad X301, Apple iPad, BlackBerry Torch smartphone, and Apple MacBook Pro. The device supports 64- and 128-bit WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security and a password is required to conncet to the device.
Typical download speeds during my testing were in the 3.75 Mbps range, with upload speeds around 1.15 Mbps. While this is slower than many readers may have at home, it is reasonably close to the average download speed of 5 Mbps in the United States. It’s also more than sufficient for bandwidth-intensive applications such as watching movies or videos. I watched multiple episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0 television series and the quality was as good as what I get at home with Verizon FiOS LINK.
A compatible service plan from Clear is $55 per month and includes unlimited 4G service and up to 5 GB of 3G service per month.
There are many times where a Clear Spot is not only useful but far less expensive than other alternatives, including hotels with costly in-room Internet access, meeting rooms and conference halls with high Internet fees, and it can be used whilst charging. It can also provide Internet on the go in trains and automobiles and is great for keeping passengers of all ages entertained during a trip.
–Paul Riegler is Technology Editor of Executive Road Warrior.