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Review: Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem

Review: Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem

The Virgin 4G WiFi Modem is a little chunky and doesn't produce super fast speeds

The Virgin 4G WiFi Modem is a little chunky and doesn't produce super fast speeds.

The 4G WiFi Modem is the first 4G mobile broadband device to launch on the Virgin Mobile network, powered by Optus.

It's a battery powered, portable wireless modem that's manufactured by Chinese company Huawei. The E5576 device is a little heavy at 150g and certainly not as slim as a modern day smartphone at 15.5m thick.

The 4G WiFi Modem has a gloss black front and a matte black finish on the back and sides. The glossy front effectively hides the OLED display when its not in use, but it's slippery and attracts plenty of fingerprints.

The 4G WiFi Modem's internal battery isn't removable.

A small but readable OLED screen on the front of the modem displays plenty of information including signal strength, the network type (3G/4G), the number of devices connected and a battery level indicator.

There's also connection time and how much data you've used displayed along the bottom of the screen.

There's a large, single power button on the front that is recessed into the case of the modem. The silver button has an attractive white light that pulses when the modem is connected.

On the top you'll find a standard sized SIM card slot, a reset button and a microSD card slot, while a standard micro-USB port for charging, a WPS button and an antenna port that can be used to boost reception in flaky coverage areas are on the bottom.

If the battery is flat the Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem can be connected to a computer via the included USB cable and used as a wired modem.

To change any of the settings, you'll need to access the modem's Web interface. It's accessible by pointing your browser to http://192.168.1.1 and logging in using the default password supplied.

The Web interface is both straightforward and functional. Options include editing the SSID name and password, editing the APN, changing the screen time and a host of other advanced networking and security options.

When you're in a 4G coverage zone, the Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem promises maximum theoretical download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps), which is around seven times faster than what you can achieve on the 3G network.

These are maximum, best case scenarios, however, and the results we achieved were significantly less. Like all mobile broadband products, the speed of the 4G WiFi Modem will depend on a number of factors including time, location, network coverage, signal strength and congestion.

When using the Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem in a 4G coverage zone, we only managed to achieve download speeds of up to 12Mbps but generally found speeds hovered between 6Mbps and 8Mbps on most occasions.

We tested the device at multiple locations including the Sydney CBD and North Sydney, both areas served by Virgin 4G coverage. Despite testing the device with full 4G reception, we were unable to achieve speeds of over 12Mbps, a disappointing result. Upload speeds were also less than stellar, generally hovering around 3Mbps.

We found the 4G WiFi Modem's battery lasted around four hours before needing to be recharged.

The Virgin Mobile 4G WiFi Modem is available now for $0 upfront on the $59 plan over 12 months. The plan includes 13GB of included data to use each month.


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