I want to be sure I can use my iPhone while traveling in Europe both for phone calls if needed and internet access for Apps, web browsing, etc. I will get a small International data plan with my cell carrier so that I can make phone calls but I wanted to know more about these pocket mobile hotspots such as MyWebSpot and HipPocket. I heard about these recently from a friend and found it too good to be true and also interesting that I haven't come across the option in any of my travel books or research. Thoughts? Pros/Cons? Any warnings or advice for me? Thanks!
You will only have an operating device if you are in a strong cellular area. If you can't get at least strong 3G you won't get wifi.
I feel this is a fairly new offering and that is why travel guides don't yet talk much about them.
MyWebSpot gets good reviews. They do charge up to €15 a day for use depending on what countries you will be using it in. They deliver the device only to European addresses, so unless you are in Paris to pick it up or have someone willing to accept delivery for you at your starting point on your trip it might be difficult to get hold of it.
I have not found the need for something like this in any of my European trips. Hotel WiFi has always been enough for me. The up to 100MBPS download speeds promised by MyWebSpot does sound a lot better than the sometimes patchy speed with hotel WiFi. It just comes down to do you want to pay that much per day and can you plan your trip in such a way it is convenient to get the device.
April & David,
The bottom line is that there's "no free lunch", and there will be a cost associated with the mobile hot spot as it will still be accessing cellular data. I haven't checked recently, but last time I looked the cost will be $5-10 per day. A simpler and easier solution would be to simply pay for a higher data allowance on your iPhone.
You don't need a "data plan" to make phone calls or send/receive texts. The data plan is only used for accessing the internet or functions like that. It's a good idea to leave cellular data "off" and use Wi-Fi as much as possible to minimize costs. For the occasional times you may need data when no Wi-Fi is available, your roaming plan should cover that.
I'm currently in Germany and received my MyWebSpot yesterday. It arrived a day late even though they promise to have it delivered to your hotel before you arrive. Also, the package did not clearly identify me as the recipient. That being said the device works great. Good reception, strong wifi signal and fast.
I, also, forwarded our cellular phones to Skype voice numbers which is also working properly and now because of the hotspot they are always available. If you do this, you must do the forward before you leave the US.
I'm switching off the hotspot and using the hotel wifi when available.
After I spend 6 weeks traveling through 5 European countries all I need to do is drop the prepaid envelope in the mail. It is costing me about $50 per week. MyWebSpot is the best value I found.
Today I sure appreciated having Google Maps guide me to my hotel in Koblenz.
Rick raved about his mobile hotspot 3 years ago, YMMV
Any locally purchased, pre-paid SIM card with a data plan from ubiquitious vendors will be cheaper than this, with no additional device to pick-up, keep charged and return. Unless you hop accross borders many times per day, with virtually no time to shop.
"Rick raved about his mobile hotspot 3 years ago, YMMV"
Rick is working when he's travelling, so having constant Wi-Fi will be more useful in those circumstances. I don't see any need for the average traveller to incur an expense like that, but as you said YMMV.
Local SIM card is the only way to go these days. For $30 you shod be good to go for 3-4 weeks with calling and heavy web use.