Fledgling wireless telco vividwireless today launched what it calls its vividwireless ViViFi Wi-Fi hotspot, a device which connects to the company’s wireless network and then shares the connection through its own Wi-Fi signal. It can be connected to mains power, or operate through its in-built battery.
Design and features
The ViViFi sits lightly in the palm of the hand, with the Chinese battery contributing to the bulk of the weight of 130g. At 110mm x 64mm x 18mm, the ViViFi fits neatly in a pocket or can sit unobtrusively on a desk. The casing is white plastic with rounded corners. The device is almost ovoid and resembles a pill box.
There is an LED strip on the left middle that includes three lights for battery, network and Wi-Fi connection. The are 3 colour indications for the WiMax and battery LED and two colour indicators for Wi-Fi. It has a mini USB 2.0 connection and charge time is 2 hours plugged into a wall while off. The Wi-Fi connection supports five simultaneous users and on paper supports distances of 40m outdoors and 10m indoors.
The ViViFi took over one minute to boot up and become usable, as indicated by the light indicator turning red to green. We tested it in the eastern Sydney suburb of Randwick, specifically in the Randwick Junction neighbourhood where the Delimiter offices are located. This area is within vividwireless’ coverage area — likely because it is close to the University of NSW. The wireless telco has announced plans to build networks close to major universities.
The first series of speed tests were conducted during lunchtime from 12:30 to 1:30 pm with an Asus laptop, no other devices on the Wi-Fi network. Speed test results showed an average download speed of 14.5Mbps, with speeds between 13.86Mbps and 15.14Mbps. Tests showed average upload speeds of 0.83 Mbps, with speeds between 0.82 and 0.84 Mbps.
The second series of tests conducted from 2:50 pm, that same day and in the same location, showed an average download speed of 7.455Mbps, with download speeds between 6.49Mbps and 8.05Mbps. The tests resulted in average upload speeds of 0.7625 Mbps, with upload speeds between 0.72Mbps and 0.81 Mbps.
The third series of tests under the same conditions around 7:30 pm had an average download speed of 6.75Mbps, with speeds ranging between 5.83Mbps and 7.26Mbps. The average upload speed was 1.03Mbps, with speeds between 0.98Mpbs and 1.11Mbps.
A fourth test to serve as a comparison was conducted 9:30AM the next day. The office ADSL connection work average speed was 12.65Mbps down and 0.86Mbps up, while the ViViFi speedtest was conducted afterwards and test results were faster — average speed of 18.61Mbps download and 0.863Mbps upload.
A file transfer of an mp4 got a sustained transfer rate of 100 KB/s on netbook to a home server.
However, my Samsung Galaxy S handset was out range of the wireless connection when I went downstairs or into the next room 10 metres away. Outdoor use in a a flat terrrain park without obstructions supported a range in the tens of meters.
The battery took up to 4 hours of heavy usage to die off. The duration of that time I was connected to the device using my laptop, with Tweetdeck, multiple Chrome tabs open and ABC News 24 streaming over the web. At one stage I was surfing with my Samsung Galaxy S handset.
I didn’t experience any dropouts in that time except for a two grey-out moments in Google Talk. The ViViFi felt warm to the touch after two or so hours of being on, but temperature didn’t increase in the subsequent hours.
The speeds are great now but vividwireless would have to keep up with cell tower transceivers for demand — otherwise it could easily end up on the route of Optus. The connection was great to use — I didn’t experience any web browsing latency — pages were fast to open but had to give time to buffer the playback of a HD YouTube video. The actual latency when measured by ping time is as expected for wireless broadband — slower than fixed networks such as ADSL, which would impact on online gaming.
I would recommend this device, it would come in handy as a backup connection if the home or work connection drops out — or even as a replacement to your home network depending on personal Internet usage. Would be ideal if on the move with more than one person, provided that you are within coverage range.
Although coverage was fine in Randwick, it is worth checking your surrounding area for white spots on vividwireless’ coverage map. There were a few around the Randwick, Coogee areas and in popular areas in the city — such Hyde Park.
I also wouldn’t mind seeing the device in an alternative colour such as black — it would look sleeker in black and not so clinical and plastic as it does in the white shell.
The device can be purchased from Harvey Norman, Dick Smith and vividwireless.com.au and is available outright for $199 on prepaid and monthly plans. Consumers who purchase the ViViFi from Harvey Norman or Dick Smith — before December 31st — and have an activated plan for at least 35 days will receive a $100 cash back.
Plans are all available on monthly 24 month contract. The flagship “Unlimited Plan” is $75 per month that includes delivery and minimum spend of $1810. For comparative purposes, the Virgin Mobile Wireless WiiFi Modem — a similar device which connects to Virgin’s 3G mobile broadband network — is available from Harvey Norman for $149 with up to 3 devices connectivity.
Vividwireless launched March this year in Perth and is owned by Seven Group. The 4G network that the corporation owns has plans to expand in Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra. Sydney and Melbourne were added to the network in July this year.
Image credit: vividwireless