NetGear AirCards Look to Shake Up the Industry

Back to Blog  •  Posted on December 26, 2014 by admin


MIFI devices have always been slightly behind the Handset market when it comes to glitz and glamour. In the past, function mattered more than form. However, NetGear hopes to buck that trend with their newly released AC785.

Its use of a color LCD screen will be the first thing one notices when picking up the device. It isn’t particularly eye-popping, but it provides everything you need: operator, signal, battery life, connected devices information and data usage. This is all at-a-glance information, despite being just 1.5 inches across.

Where the AirCard 785 really stands out is in its form factor. Most MiFi units have a small footprint, but are very thick, while Netgear has taken the opposite route with a substantial 110 x 69mm body that’s just 16.6mm thick. This is actually nicer to carry around than a smaller, thicker design and it’s fairly light at 127g.

The most important aspect of the 785, perhaps, is what it is capable of doing. Support for 4G/LTE (cat 4) is the most important upgrade in this generation of hotspots, providing potential download and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps and 50Mbps respectively. Furthermore it’s compatible with all major bands: 800/850/900/1800/2100 and 2600MHz. Meanwhile 3G (including HSPA Plus) and 2G (including EDGE) support covers the 850/900/2100MHz and 900/1800MHz bands respectively.
Unlocked, the AC785 can be used almost anywhere in the world.

NetGear also has made two points to fit external antennas should you need to boost the Wi-Fi range and speed (not to be confused with your cellular signal). It also offers WPS – too long absent from many MiFi devices – for making fast, secure connections. Lastly NetGear makes some bold battery life claims: 10 hours of active use and up to 300 hours on standby puts this a step ahead of the competition on paper.

So while NetGear has done a good job upgrading the look and usability of a basic carrier-supplied MiFi, it lives and dies on performance, and I’m pleased to say NetGear has nailed this as well. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on your choice of carrier and location (all still have strong and weak areas), but we came away extremely impressed.