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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Verizon MiFi vs. Sprint's Overdrive

Verizon MiFi vs. Sprint's Overdrive
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Apr 28, 2010, 03:59 AM
Both me and my fiancee are planning on purchasing an iPad. We hope to be able to go with the standard WiFi iPad instead of the 3G version because of the extra $130 and also the extra cost for the data plan.
Currently I pay $59.95/month for an AT&T Data Plan with a Data Connect card but that card only will work with our laptops on the go. I was at Best Buy tonight looking at the iPad and came across two options, Verizon's MiFI service and Sprint's Overdrive service. It seems Sprint offers two devices.
I have always heard that Verizon is much better than AT&T but also that Sprint was inferior to AT&T or Verizon.
After talking to the salesperson, she said Sprint is the best service out there, better than Verizon or AT&T. I told her I had heard that Sprint isn't that good and does not have the best coverage. She said that's true for voice but not for data and for data Sprint has the best coverage and also Sprint is now switching to 4G in many cities which is of course faster and that where we live in Denver it should be done by the end of the year.
From the information she gave me it appears both Verizon and Sprint charge $59.99 a month for their services for 5GB, the same I pay for AT&T. According to her Verizon is moving to 4G but likely early next year in this area and Sprint is currently upgrading but according to her once Sprint changes to 4G the service will drop to $49.95 a month and also the data plan will change from a 5GB limit to unlimited data.
Has anyone heard anything about this price change or unlimited data?
I have several questions below:

-How does the speed of these compare to a USB dongle. I know it's the same network but being it's over wi-fi and not a connect direct, is the speed any slower?
-What kind of range does the wi-fi network have, especially for a good connection and speed?
-Is Sprint's coverange, network, and speed really that good?
-Between Sprint and Verizon, does one stand above the other?
-As stated above, is the information about 4G (release dates for Verizon and Sprint) and the change to unlimited data or a decrease in cost true?
-Does either of the units offer the ability to block certain websites? For example if her son uses his ipod touch on it could we block sites like Welcome to Facebook | Facebook, MySpace, etc. so he can't access them. I know it would block us also but that is fine.

Thank you for your help with the above questions.
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Apr 28, 2010, 01:53 PM
I just got an Overdrive this week. It's great so far. I don't currently have 4G coverage (seriously...no coverage in Silicon Valley!), but 3G speed tests have been above 1 Mbps, so I'm happy. Your plan info is a little off: with the Overdrive, you get 5GB 3G data and unlimited 4G data for $60 a month.

You can use the Overdrive either over wifi or as a USB dongle (requires driver install). I haven't done a comparison myself on performance differences, but I've read reports that USB does perform better.

I haven't checked the range on my device, but what kind of range are you looking for? I always have it on my person or in my backpack, so I always have a wifi connection. I can understand a wifi range question only if you are thinking about replacing your home Internet connection with this.

Sprint used to suck, I mean really suck back in 2001-2002. I could not maintain a call inside any building at all. That's why I left and went to Cingular, which went to AT&T. I came back to Sprint in 2007 and have had pretty much 0 dropped calls. I've wanted an iPhone but AT&T's current network scares me, especially seeing on the coverage maps that my home just happens to be in the center of 3G dead zone (really...my house is right in the center of a "hole" in the map)! Anytime people come over to my house with their iPhones, they have no connection.

I can't compare Sprint to Verizon, but from what I've read and heard, I would not be hesitant to move to Verizon if I found an advantage there.

Overdrive does not include web site blocking.

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Apr 28, 2010, 11:40 PM
comments for mobile wireless Internet, not voice

both Sprint and Verizon (EVDO/WiMax) are better than AT&T for mobile data in terms of actual speeds reported. the costs $60/month are the same for all 3 vendors.

between Sprint and Verizon, Sprint is currently ahead because of its faster 4G speeds in selected (but not all) cities. and Sprint's 4G data service has unlimited data unlike Verizon's 5GB/month limit or Sprint's 3G data 5GB/month limit. The Sprint Overdrive supports both 3G and 4G data but 3G data is limited to 5GB/month usage (after that you pay overage per MB charges) while 4G data has no limit. AT&T 3G service also has a 5GB type limit.

the Sprint Overdrive device is a little bigger than the Sprint/Verizon MiFi but not much so. also its battery life is a little less than MiFi but still good for hours (for more time just use it in USB plugged in mode)

definitely get the iPad WiFi + Sprint Overdrive instead of iPad 3G, that's the best setup currently.

well actually there is one more option to consider: if you have a Palm Pre Plus on Verizon, that phone allows a free Verizon application with no monthly service charges to broadcast it's mobile Internet via WiFi to up to 5 devices (similar to separate MiFi card but built into the phone, also known as data tethering which normally costs extra $30/month but not for Palm Pre). Of course this is 3G and not 4G speed, but if you already have or can upgrade to a Palm Pre Plus smartphone with data on verizon, your total monthly cost will be less than buying a separate Overdrive and one less device to carry.

notes about Sprint voice network: no voice vendor is best, you really have to try the phone in the location you make calls, each vendor has different specific coverage. However if Sprint does have good voice coverage in your location, it's monthly mobile phone/data rates are much lower than either Verizon or AT&T (with an entry level or medium number of voice minutes, Sprint includes unlimited text messages and unlimited data for about $20-30/less - if you need unlimited voice minutes the vendors become more even)
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May 2, 2010, 02:33 PM
I too looked at this after buying the iPad Wifi, but one thing that got me right away: 5GB of 3G and Unlimited data transfer over 4G for $60/month. And unless you live in one of the 20 cities that have 4G, it means you pay $60/month for 5GB of 3G. And I need a lot of data transfer, so 5GB is about a weeks worth for me. Here's how I justified buying an iPad 3G:

Wifi(Using Sprint device) 3G(using AT&T built in)
iPad: $499(16GB) $629(16GB)
Data Plan: $60/month $30/month
After 1 year: $1219 total $989 total
After 2 year: $1939 total $1349 total

AND that doesnt include the cost of buying the device(MiFi or Overdrive) which is in the range of $99-199, activation costs, and the CONTRACT you have to sign for it. AT&T is surprisingly well suited in the Cincinnati area, comes built in to the iPad 3G, and there is no contract. Essentially pay for what you use if you manage it correctly. I know everyone has had there differences with AT&T, and Apple subsequently, but this is actually a ground breaking deal that will break down the industry to drop prices, and maybe data plan contracts. I would be willing to debvate this with anyone...
Intel iMac - 17" 2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo 1 GB RAM 150GB HDD
MB 13" - Early 2010 Model iPod Touch - 16GB
iPad - 16GB WiFi iPhone 3GS - 16GB
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May 12, 2010, 04:36 AM
While I do not have an iPAD, I do have an iPOD touch and a Verizon Mifi-2200, and I have to admit that it works extremely well. I can not compare the speed to Sprint, but as far as the Mifi, it does the job nicely. The above poster did point out that it is more expensive per month than the built in data, but keep in mind it can be used for your laptop as well. You can use the MiFi in 3 ways:

1. Battery over Wifi
2. Plugged into the wall over Wifi
3. Plugged into your computer connected through the cable.

While I do not know if Philadelphia is a 4G city or not, I have been very impressed with the Mifi since I got it.
One Note: If you go for a Wifi Device, make sure you connect it via Wifi, and log into the router and change the password to something that is not on the label of the device. I changed the last number by 2 digits, to be the same number as the second to last number. This way, if you loose it, you don't get your data used away by a thief.
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May 15, 2010, 03:08 PM
I've been using a Verizon MiFi for several months and really like it. I'm not too concerned about the data cap as it is not my only connectivity device. I have broadband and home that works for about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, I use the MiFi with both laptops and an iPad. I'm very pleased with performance and have never come anywhere close to 5gigs usage in a month.
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Jun 21, 2010, 05:55 AM
I use to have AT&T wireless data plan for my laptop, and recently switched to Verizon Myfi, and now I hate Verizon. It is much worse than AT&T.

It sucks. Constantly dropping the connection.
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Nov 27, 2010, 07:34 PM
Funny Buck, I have never had a problem with the connection dropping. The MiFi does go into standby mode when it is not used for some time, but can be easily brought back online with a press of the button.

I do have t0 confess that I do not like the lack of a battery meter of any sorts. The only way to know if it is fully charged it so charge it all of the way, and knowing at that point that it is fully charged.
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Nov 27, 2010, 10:36 PM
if you are connected to your mifi wirelessly, simply enter (or is it 1.1)? in the browser and you'll connect to the admin page of the mifi. There is a battery meter on that page. For sure it'd be a lot more cool if there was a battery indicator on the device itself.
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Dec 5, 2010, 11:49 PM
I recently switched an existing Sprint pc card's service to an Overdrive on my employer's national plan. So far I love it. It has felt just as fast as using my DSL at home even though I don't have 4G in my area yet (San Diego). I mainly use it with Wyse Pocketcloud through my corporate VPN to work in some windows only applications remotely. There is no lag, and the combo is actually more responsive than Microsoft's own RDP app on my MacBook.

One of the things I like about it over the Mifi, is the screen on the front of the device that gives you the signal strength and battery life without having to go through the browser. Also it is certainly a full fledged wifi router with port forwarding, MAC address filtering etc. My vote goes to the Overdrive.
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