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

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.