Monday, November 10, 2014

The Device that Saved Drive Time

The City of Seattle is doing a "Neighborhood Revitalization Project" in my neighborhood.  This is fancy talk for "fixing the streets".  They are totally gutting the roads, putting in new drainage pipes, making them bigger, repaving with more durable materials.  It is a crazy ambitious project that by the time it's done in the beginning of next year, will have lasted two years. And it's all happening right outside my front door.  I live on a major thoroughfare and this project, which will eventually be a major improvement, is currently a major pain in my rear.

We moved into this little townhouse one month before the project started.  We were already wary of moving out of our former beloved (and currently way too trendy/expensive) neighborhood, because we lived two blocks from school.  Moving into our current house meant a 12 minute commute in the car.  Once the construction started it added 5 minutes onto our morning commute and a whopping 20 minutes and two miles onto our afternoon ride back to the house.

As I've written about before, it can be very difficult for us to get out of the house.  On many mornings I have resorted to bribery rewards. With the construction making our commute painful, one of the best "rewards" I can offer Kitty is the ability to watch a show in the car.  Problem is, with my current Data Plan (not through AT&T), my data is throttled after I reach 5 GB.  I don't frequently use that much data, even if we do watch a few shows, but letting Kitty stream Netflix, or a show from her Kindle Fire Kids Edition does use a bit of data, and I never want to be stranded somewhere, unable to use the data on my phone because Kitty was too engrossed in Wild Kratts.

Enter the AT&T Unite for GoPhone.  This thing has been amazing.  Netgear hooked me up with this rad device and 1.5 GB of data, so that I could let you know what I think about it.  It has really been amazing.  So far we've used it for a trip to school, a trip home from school and in a restaurant.  That 1.5 GB still has some data left, and the best part is that since it's a prepaid style device, Kit can EARN refills.  I love putting that responsibility in her hands.  Want to watch a show in the car?  Better do some extra chores and reading!




Besides the convenience of pre-paid, I love that the device was so easy to set up.  Even a wi-fi novice could get it going with its default settings in a matter of minutes.  I dinked around a little more so that I could change the hot spot's name to match the naming conventions we have for the rest of our devices, and even that was super easy.  I had the whole thing loaded up with a new pre-paid card and configured within 10 minutes.

It has good battery life.  The documentation claims 10 hours, and I found it to be a bit over eight, but that's still really good.  You can take a nice long road trip with that before you need to recharge.  I have a feeling this has to do with the number of devices and what they are streaming.  It can connect to up to 10 devices.  We had up to three connected, with two of them streaming low quality video.

I also like the ability to set a temporary guest wi-fi password.  I had a meeting the other day, and was the only source of wi-fi thanks to the Unite.  I felt safe knowing that I was giving my co-workers a temporary password that would no longer work after the meeting.

 Mobile data is still one of those products that costs more than it seems it should and this is no exception. The data plans are not super cheap, with $25 getting you 1.5 GB or a month, which ever comes first.  It won't be a big issue for us, as we will continue to use in places like the care where other wi-fi isn't available, but this tech isn't cheap enough yet to be your sole source of the internet.

I was given an AT&T Unite and 1.5 GB of  data to facilitate this review.  I have to say it, but you already know that all opinions are mine.


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