Business Mobility

Novatel's latest mobile hotspot helps business travelers stay connected

If there's one tool no business traveler should be without, it's a mobile hotspot. It's like the Internet in your pocket, a high-speed but portable modem that can share its connectivity with multiple devices: laptops, tablets, and so on.

These handy gizmos have been around for years, but Novatel's latest is rapidly emerging as the hot hotspot, especially for holiday gift shoppers. Why the fuss? The MiFi2 Liberate is the first hotspot to feature a touchscreen.

That may not sound like such a big deal for a device that typically just sits on a tabletop while you hop online, but it's quite helpful for things like tracking your data consumption and viewing which devices are connected. Older hotspots relied on small LED screens and awkward button-powered menus, or lacked any kind of interactivity at all.

Of course, the advantage of any mobile hotspot is that it can rescue you from slow, unreliable, and/or non-existent Wi-Fi networks. Need to connect in the back of a cab? Fire up your hotspot. Antiquated hotel doesn't offer Wi-Fi? Again: hotspot.

This is especially valuable for business travelers who rely on remote access software for keeping connected to their office PCs. For example, with a tool like LogMeIn Free, you can bridge the divide between your laptop, tablet, or even smartphone and the computer that's back at your desk—you know, the one with all the mission-criticial software, data and emails on it. It doesn't matter if you're commuting on a train or waiting in an airport lounge; with a mobile hotspot and that handy software, you've got total control of that remote PC.

And with the Liberate, total control that lasts all day: AT&T says the gizmo's beefy battery can run for 11 hours between charges. First-generation hotspots usually ran out of juice after 3-4 hours.

The Liberate also packs some useful extras that travelers might appreciate, including GPS for connected devices that don't already have it (like your laptop) and a microSD slot for sharing media. In fact, it can actually stream music, videos, and the like to DLNA-compatible TVs, Blu-ray players, and other devices.

AT&T offers the 4G LTE-powered Liberate for $49.99 with a two-year service agreement, with plans starting at $40 per month. That's not notably higher than other, less futuristic hotspots, so if you're in the market for a mobile modem that can keep you connected pretty much anywhere, the Liberate might be worth a look.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

Subscribe to the Business Brief Newsletter