These days, it seems even the most casual Internet user expects easy online access everywhere. As a social media professional, I feel the need for Internet connectivity the way a baby needs a binky (yes, first-world problems). So I have cellular data on both my smartphones and a Boingo Wi-Fi account for all my devices when I travel [note: I am a former Boingo Wireless employee]. But increasingly, I find myself requiring online access in places where neither of these solutions meet my needs.

I have a secret sidekick: the Verizon LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L. The device, pictured above, is the length and width of a credit card and is 0.5 inches thick. I love that it fits conveniently in my pocket.

I’ve been saved by my MiFi portable hotspot ¬†in several unpredictable situations:

  • At the side of the road because I needed to email a document right away
  • At conferences where Wi-Fi tends to be spotty and slow from heavy usage
  • At hotels where Boingo isn’t available and the Wi-Fi is an additional charge on top of the room fee
  • During business meetings at offices that don’t enable visitor access to their private network

The connection speed is very good at download rates between 5 to 12 Mbps and uploads between 2 to 5 Mbps. 4G LTE speeds are ten times faster than 3G networks, according to Verizon. I can connect up to five devices — just beware that the more connected devices, the slower the speeds. And while I usually keep the MiFi within arm’s length when I connect, the device can keep you connected within a 100-foot radius according to PCMag.com.

Battery life is decent on the MiFi personal hotspot, at about four hours of usage. An LED on the front of the device gives you a pulse on the battery consumption, as well as the signal strength. The bummer is that you can’t connect to the device while it’s charging.

The¬†Verizon LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L has recently been upgraded to the 4620L model, which includes a number of enhancements. The device costs $49.99, with a two-year contract. Choose from a variety of data plans, with 4GB costing $30 per month. If you think you’ll be connecting often to high-bandwidth stuff (uploading/downloading documents, watching videos, accessing on multiple devices), choose a higher data plan. You don’t want to surpass your plan’s data allocation — the overage consumption can be expensive.

Even despite a few shortcomings, the Verizon LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi is a useful on-the-go companion. I use it weekly for many occasions — and I’m always pleasantly surprised when it comes to my rescue in a bind.