Telstra is Australia's largest telco, and that means it can spend a bit of cash on keeping its 4GX mobile network world-class and super-fast. Alongside switching on Voice Over LTE, the new Wi-Fi mobile hotspot that Telstra calls the Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III is capable of 600Mbps download speeds -- theoretically.
The new hotspot is built by Netgear; officially referred to as the AirCard 810S, it's the successor to the AirCard 785S that Telstra currently sells as the 4G Wi-Fi My Pocket Ultimate. It's a 111x68x15mm hotspot with integrated 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi router inside, and an internal removeable 2930mAh battery on top of its microSIM slot. Apart from a top-mounted power button, there's a single microUSB 3.0 port on the base as well as dual TS9 micro-antenna connectors.
Because there's only one tactile button, you'll need to tap that before you use the 2-inch colour touchscreen on the hotspot's front; that's where you'll find the currently broadcasting Wi-Fi network name and password, as well as to view any messages you've received (like data usage, or SMSes to your mobile broadband number) and adjust a range of settings. You can muck with a variety of things -- turn Wi-Fi on and off, connect or disconnect to mobile networks -- but for anything more serious you're better off logging into the web admin, which you'll find at http://192.168.1.1 or http://m.home.
That admin user interface lets you choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz for your primary Wi-Fi network, and lets you set up a secondary network on the other band simultaneously. You can lock the device to 4G (LTE) or 3G (CDMA) only, although there's no way to see whether you're connected to a dual- or triple-carrier aggregation set of network bands -- and it's that triple band that'll let you hit that theoretical max 600Mbps download speed. (Move over, NBN!) Netgear and Telstra promise 11 hours of continuous-use battery life, although you'll also get 260 hours of standby time if you're keeping it hidden away until you really need to use it.
You can also use the hotspot as a portable battery, sharing its charge with any USB-connected smartphone or tablet. Don't expect a huge recharge, since it barely has 3000mAh of its own, but it might just be enough to get your smartphone charged enough to make an emergency phone call. Maybe that'll help out one of the 15 devices you can connect simultaneously. Stay tuned for a full review of the Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III soon, including the downstream speeds that we see in one of Telstra's Category 11-capable 4GX network areas. [Telstra]