As of late, 4G has become the talk of the town. Chances are you’ve seen some Clear 4G ads around town, or perhaps you’ve noticed a Clear kiosk at your local mall or Best Buy. Clear 4G offers users access to the next generation of highspeed wireless internet access without any restrictions – that means unlimited data without the caps that most wireless carriers put on 3G. If you’re anything like us, than you despise contracts. That is where Rover comes in. Rover offers Clear’s 4G WiMax service on a pay-as-you-go basis, so there is no yearly contract involved. We previously reviewed the Rover Puck portable WiFi Hotspot and the Clear 4G+ Mobile USB Series S. This time around we got to try out the new Rover Hub, a $99.99 modem designed for home use. The Rover Hub is really a very different beast than the Rover Puck and Rover Stick that are designed to offer 4G service on the go. Instead the Rover Hub is more like your at home cable modem box – it plugs into the wall to stay powered and connects to your computer or wireless router via an ethernet cable.
Getting the Rover Hub up and running is super simple. The kit comes with a single sheet of paper with setup instructions, but you hardly need it. All you have to do is plug the Rover Hub into a wall outlet, connect it to your computer using the included ethernet cable, and wait for all 5 green indicator lights to show up solid to indicate that the device is able to pick up a signal. The instructions do however recommend keeping the Hub near a window for best reception. Once you’re connected, your browser will take you to the Rover home page to activate your device and then create a new account. Of-course, this will only work if you’re in a Clear 4G coverage area, so don’t forget to check if you have coverage before making a purchase. Each new Rover device comes with 2 free days of service. After that, service costs $5 a day, $20 a week or $50 a month. We would love to see an option for Rover’s service to be extended across multiple devices, so that one monthly plan would for example cover service on both the Puck and the Hub. This isn’t something that any wireless provider offers, but hey, a girl can dream right?
In midtown east in Manhattan, we experienced download speeds around an average of 8Mbps, and up-to as fast as 9.3Mbps! That is significantly higher than the 3-6Mbps download average that Rover advertises. To that effect, using the Rover Hub, we were able to stream 1080P YouTube videos with aplomb. Unfortunately, upload speeds were not that great and averaged 0.5Mbps in our area. We experienced similar upload speed when testing the Rover Puck in our area too, yet the Rover puck achieved much better upload speeds in some other areas of the city, so our guess is that the Rover Hub would perform similarly in different areas. Speaking of the Rover puck – the Rover Puck is able to get just just an average of about 2Mbps in the same area as we are currently testing the Rover Hub in. That basically suggests that the Rover Hub is a more powerful device, which would make sense since it is a bigger piece of equipment.
The Rover Hub home modem can also be connected to a wireless router, we just wish it had a wireless router built into it. The device is also both Mac, PC and Linux compatible and it retails for $99. If you signed up for Clear 4G’s service with a 2 year plan, you could get a Clear home modem for free, but then you would be locked down to a 2 year contract. If you ask us, the Rover Hub makes a lot more sense. But maybe that is because we’re commitment-phobic! Overall, amongst Rover’s product line-up, the new Rover Hub has so far proven to be more powerful than the portable Puck, but it sacrifices power in exchange for portability. Granted, it can be moved from home to home relatively easily, but this is not a device designed for traveling the way the Rover Puck and Stick are. At the end of the day, the Rover Hub is best suited for homebodies, and would make a great solution for someone who moves around a lot and doesn’t want to get caught up in the hassle of signing up for cable or DSL. As a result, the college student demographic really is a perfect fit for the Rover Hub.
Super easy to setup, No evil contract required! 2 free days of service included. Excellent download speeds. Quite attractive looking for a modem. Affordable pricing with truly unlimited data.
Not a portable device like Rover’s other devices. Ethernet only- wish it doubled also as a wi-fi router. Upload speeds in some parts of NYC need improvement.