Netgear has a solution and it’s completely wireless. Everyone knows about cellular hotspots, which have been on the market for a while now, but the Nighthawk is something with the power to create stronger Wi-Fi in places where a hardwired connection just isn’t possible. I recently had the opportunity to design and set up a remote office with the Netgear Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router.
Installation is very simple, though I had some issues on the carrier side when I first set up the device with the static IP settings, but I can’t hold that against the Nighthawk. It was quickly fixed by T-Mobile and then everything worked fine. The display shows some useful info like data usage and the number of devices connected. Having a network jack on the back is also helpful when connecting a dedicated Wi-Fi network. The less wireless the better here and I connected this to a Google Wi-Fi setup to feed four cameras and two desktop PCs. The performance was good, but not the best, however for the location, it was the only option.
There are lots of features to go over here, but you’re unlikely to use all of them (comment below if you actually do). The Nighthawk has a very long-lasting battery backup built-in, 4G LTE, optional TS-9 connectors for antennas, and it can act as a base station for the Arlo Smart Home Security System. It’s branded as “the ultimate travel router” and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring it along on a road trip with me. Being able to support up to 20 devices is fantastic for a car ride with kids or for a professional who needs a flexible mobile office. The overall design is very good, little to complain about here.
Speeds were about as expected. I was able to live-stream one or two cameras at a time and both desktops can work online simultaneously. But don’t expect to stream any music or watch YouTube with speed. I averaged 9Mbps upload and 3Mbps download (no, that’s not a typo), not lightning-fast speeds, but workable. I found the trick for this unit to perform well was to point it in the nearest direction of a cell tower and keep it as high up as possible. Most of the negative reviews on Amazon seem to have issues with signal strength and the solution has almost always been the placement of the unit. I didn’t use the optional antennas, but I may do so in the future. For now, I’m satisfied with its performance.
After looking at how low the monthly costs are, I did consider trying it. However, it depends on what you are looking for with speed and bandwidth. If you need some light video streaming and casual internet use anywhere and anytime, this would be perfect. For people that have a small apartment, a tiny home or a travel trailer this unit would be perfect. I can think of a lot of useful setups the Nighthawk would work perfectly for and for under $50 a month, you get unlimited internet which is much cheaper than the cable service at my house.
The Netgear Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router is the best option for internet access with only a cellular connection. For $349, it does its job well. I am sure we will be seeing even better options when 5G is out with new units being able to support it, but for now, I am quite happy with this “set and forget” option for free wireless internet. It’s a great on-the-go and affordable solution for getting internet and it gets my vote. Combine it with a mesh network and you have a winner.