The WINDspeed Pocket Hotspot: great for Linux users but piss-poor documentation.

I must admit that I haven’t found a suitable use case for a MiFi device until now — where I find myself tasked with procuring a no-fuss Internet connection for  visiting family. Each of the big carriers in Canada sells a personal WiFi hotspot of some sort, but being a fan of the little guy I went instead with WIND Mobile’s Huawei E583C — aka, the WINDspeed Pocket Hotspot.

As a Linux user I’ve found that many mobile broadband USB sticks  — including the ones sold by WIND — don’t play well with my particular distro. In at least one way WIND’s hotspot is no different; a USB connection on my Ubuntu-powered ThinkPad offers no Internet, just a bunch of executables for Windows:

Presumably there’s another partition on this thing with setup utilities for OS X, but since I don’t have any HFS+ tools installed I can’t see them.

Fortunately for free software lovers, administering this device is a no-brainer… provided you have the necessary passwords. With a factory-charged battery and SIM card in place the Huawei powered up and connected to WIND’s mobile network straightaway, but the broadcasted signal is WPA-encrypted by default and the password to access it is not at all clear.

Thinking the passcode was specific to my account I tried my assigned WIND number (for texts) and my personal PIN. No joy.

A frantic Google search provided a clue — search for “under the battery” on this page. It eventually donned on me that the required digits weren’t there, but here:

D’oh.

So with a secure connection in place I immediately set about changing the details to make them more family-friendly. The admin interface for the device is — like my Linux-friendly NAS — available through any web browser at 192.168.1.1, or in this case the more memorable http://mye5.home. But here again I got stuck:

Great, another password… And I had to download the product manual from WIND to find it. You can download the same PDF here, or I can save you the grief and just give it to you: admin. Not hard to remember, but it sure would’ve been nice to have this rather critical information included in the box.

With the pocket-spot now set up the way I likes it I’m getting some decent speeds — see for yourself:


This particular Huawei allows up to five devices to connect simultaneously; for my needs there likely won’t be more than two at any given time. And for freedom beards the best part is that no tweaking of Windows or Mac computers is necessary; just hand out the password and the user does the rest.

For anyone who wants to share their mobile data connection (even with themselves) I give the WINDspeed Pocket Hotspot an enthusiastic thumbs-up — once I’m done wagging my finger at WIND for their documentation fail, of course…

7 comments:

  1. Hi.

    How is the battery power for you? I find it annoying having it to charge when it gets low, though when the battery bar is all clear & a LOW BATTERY message comes up it stays connected for good while. I must admit I use a lot of video streaming (for watching my shows) at night when I get home since I cancelled my ridiculous cable bill w Rogers. Its just that the pain of either plugging it on the USB port or the electrical outlet is getting into me now. Performance-wise, I’m liking the wireless connection, the speed & convenience of this little guy here.

    Should I replace it with the data stick instead? Just curious.

    Thanks!

  2. This is the type of device you’d leave plugged in at home, I think — once you have a properly-conditioned battery, of course…

    With any mobile device I always drain the factory charge on the battery first, then go through no less than three complete charge cycles before I consider it fit for daily use.

  3. Hey there! thanks a lot so much for you instructions on how to find my hot spot password. Like you I was searching for it, I think its really peeving how they hide the password and without a Google search, there is no help. You’ve done a great job.

  4. It’s terrible for playing games online. I live in Vancover and the max speed I can get is less than 2.5

  5. WIND is fairly upfront about the fact that they might throttle your speeds after 5GB of data transfer or so — direct link to PDF here.

    So anyone hoping that this will replace their broadband cable or DSL Internet service will probably be disappointed…

  6. i’m not looking to replace broadband, i’m looking to replace cable, with netflix, etc.

    after 5gb, will i get enough speed to stream sports and movies all month?

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