|Up to eight users at a time can get work done on the Clear Spot Voyager mobile hot spot, for not much money or stress. But it all depends on whether you can find service.|
When the Voyager works -- which is very much not a given -- it provides solid business data connectivity. It's impressive how much innovation Clear stuffs into what is nothing more than a wireless hot spot the size of a pack of Stride gum. My test modem was fabulously itty-bitty at 2.6 inches square, a half-inch thick and just a bit over 2 ounces. A single button controls the unit. Turn it on. Power it up. Let it find the cell network. The Voyager turns that into a Wi-Fi connection. Enter the password stuck to the side of the unit. Up to eight devices supported. Poof! Instant office network. The Web experience was average for business use. Sites and basic documents worked fine, though downloads can be slow compared with a wired connection. The unit is powered via either a USB connector or battery. It has about six hours of work life. Where Clear offers clear innovation is in pricing. Remember, the $125 modem cost is a flat charge. No contract needed. Monthly access fees start at $34, though I would go for a $50-a-month unlimited plan. That all means you can get your people connected fast and with no strings. What else do you need? What you don't get
Clearwire's biggest issue remains what it always has been: coverage. Service throughout Metro New York was excellent, including in thinly covered spots as Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant. But in my hometown in Westchester County? Nada. To Clear's credit, its coverage maps are accurate; where it says it works, it usually did. But company officials confirmed that the only way to know if Clear will work for you is get a device, try it for 30 days and, if there is no coverage, send it back. All carriers are this dumb, but that does not make it any less dumb. Also, I found access speeds to be a step down from the truly blazing coverage of, say, Verizon's LTE service, and there are some nutty details: Like on other prominent mobile hot spots, the Voyager has no display, for instance. You must decode the status of the thing by how three tiny lights blink. Huh? Bottom line
The Clear Spot Voyager, while way unperfect, is oddly satisfying to use. If you can find service, you can get work done. At these prices, that has real business potential. If you are only giving the big carriers a sniff for mobile business data, you are probably making a mistake. Clear is worth a clear look. >To submit a news tip, email: email@example.com.
Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.