Puck Yeah: Clearwire's 4G Hotspot Can Replace Broadband [Review]

Clearwire's ugly little pucker proves itself to be a marvelous addition to a road warrior's weaponry.

Clearwire_Rover_Puck

This is the Rover Puck 4G mobile hotspot from Clearwire. If you're wondering, a 4G connection is indeed on par with an average broadband connection. It will make you love the future.

In the last 24 hours, I've used the Puck to pull down an average of about 6Mbps in airports outside New York, Minneapolis and San Francisco. Clearwire Corporation, mostly owned by Sprint, calls its consumer-facing arm "Clear Wireless," and offers the Rover for direct sale via its website and in retail stores. (It's being piloted in the Midwest to start, but should trickle down to the East and West coasts soon.)

Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 12.17.25 PM

The beauty of the Rover Puck is its prepaid, contract-free billing structure. You buy the device for $150, then pre-pay as you use it: $5 per day, $20 a week, or $50 a month. The monthly fee is $10 less than what you'd pay if you got a contract 4G hotspot like this one directly from Sprint, but the Sprint device is only $100 with a 2-year contract. In other words, the Rover is cheaper, but it can't do 3G like the Sprint device can -- so if you're out of 4G coverage, you're offline. (There are several dozen wireless markets covered so far, and you can see the map here.)

The Puck connects eight devices via Wi-Fi for what the company claims is four hours, but in practice, it has seemed like less. The Puck will stop transmitting data and go into a kind of "sleep" mode if none of your devices talk to it for a while.

No wonder I'm excited about the Rover: it's marketed directly to my 18-36 demographic. The Rover site gives you "the 411" on service, encourages you to "stick it in" and then to "re-up" your prepaid account, "freak on" if you're a "speed freak." Then there's this marketing gem:

Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 12.43.55 PM

Stilted advertising copy doesn't make this device any less impressive, and neither do appearances. While the Puck itself is ugly as hell -- it looks like the anemic sibling of the electronic game Simon -- it's impossible not to feel some kind of primal human attraction to this little disc, which manages to yoke the entire Internet to you as you ramble. The more you think about it, the more it looks like a pucking wonder.

Rover Puck 4G hotspot, $150. Available soon.

 

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3 Comments

  • Cole Crockett

    Charges more for 3g? Where'd you get that? You do pay more up front, $10 more, and there is a 5Gig per month cap ob usage of 3g, but there are no extra charges for using 3g beyond that. I have never seen anyone chaged for going over the 5gigs either.

  • Brent Bouchez

    The opening line of this article calls the Rover a "marvelous edition to a road warriors weaponry." And so it seems to be. And then you get to the part about it being targeted to the 18 - 36 demographic. Huh? And look at the ad...teenagers dancing in what looks like somebody's den. Plus the incredibly clever line that must have taken all of 13 seconds to think of "Puck Yeah" How on earth is this reaching the road warrior? Someone who more than likely is going to ask his or her company to cover the cost of this item. The average business traveler is around age 42 and more than 49% are over age 50. In addition, this ad doesn't even show the Rover (I disagree that it's ugly) or it's size which I'm sure is quite small and portable. To anyone just glancing at this communication, odds are they would think it was for an MP3 player. This seems to me like a serious device for serious people and it certainly comes with a serious price at $50 a month, especially considering that the highest level of unemployment in the country is the group between 18 and 30.
    Did somebody get the wrong brief?
    -Brent Bouchez
    www.agencyfive0.com

  • CurtisMSP

    Yes, the Sprint device can do 3G coverage, but they charge you more in 3G mode than in 4G mode, and it isn't always clear when you are switching from 4G to 3G -- it happens automatically. The result? You could easily end up paying even more that you expected on Sprint when you unknowingly bet bumped into 3G and its higher rate structure. The Rover restricts you to 4G, but it may be doing you a favor, because it is always clear what rate you are paying.