Review: GL-Mifi, with 5000mah battery and the EC20 module!

Dear GLi enthousiasts and lurkers,

I just recieved my little MiFi and
wanted to clear some things up by including experiences with DHL, customs and the device itself.

Recieving
I must say that I had a bit of a problem with the customs.
A few days before arrival just when t was being shipped from Hong Kong I recieved a SMS from DHL
that asked me to pay for the costs of importing it to Europe
at a very fishy website that didn’t look like it related to DHL.
I asked DHL if the site was related and it actually was.
If you’re wondering the site was: http://www.dhl-ar.accountis.net/gpp/
I had to pay almost €50 for
importing the device because the manufacturer
didn’t include a price tag on the box.
But as soon as I recieved my package
I realised that the people from GL-iNet
in fact did include a nice list with its pricetag.
I managed to bring that €50 downwards to €36.
Shame on you customs!

Packaging
The device was securely packaged with peripherals in an envelope that was put within a cardboard box
with foam. And the whole package was wrapped within a DHL express bag.
I miss a manual and I liked to have another “Thank you”-note such as the one I recieved in the packaging of my iNet6416.

 

The device


At first glance it is a well made device with
a smooth, stylish encasement.
It actually feels a bit heavy.
The plastic feels like the same durable plastic that
is being used for most child toys.
When powering up the device I notice
that it’s almost fully charged.
What a great way to keep the unpacking pace going.
But to make sure that my battery durability test is
as accurate as possible I will charge it till it’s fully charged.

Let’s take a look at its case.
It looks exactly like the 3D render.
With 2 black Ethernet ports that fit seamlessly with the white encasing.

On the right side of these Ethernet ports are the SIM/SD-slot,
the reset button and the USB 2.0 port.

When removing the protective lid of the SIM/SD-slot
we can get a glimp of the underlying motherboard of the MiFi.

I think that it would be a bit better if the slot was’t directly
attached to the motherboard but placed under the lid on the bottom of the device.
Far away from the other internal parts.

The battery LED’s show you the current capacity of the battery in 25% per LED.
When charging the LED above the last stationary LED will blink. The on/off switch feels a bit loose.
The LEDs look great but will enlighten the covers of the other LEDs a bit.
The bottom lid contains a quick summary including the default password,
network name, IP-address, hardware ID (MAC), serial number,
a short DDNS name and a QR-code that redirects you to GL-iNet’s homepage.

To access the motherboard four screws have to be removed
that are seated underneath the legs on the bottom lid.

 

Let’s take a look at the peripherals.
The CAT.6 patch cable is about 80cm long and features a slim design with clip protectors.
It’s quite hard to figure out if it is a type A or B
and if it is a crossover or a straight-through cable as a
layer of plastic covers most of the shown parts of the cable.
But this won’t affect its purpose as most device
will adapt themselves to the cable that is being used.

The charger looks great and is able to charge a larger device such as an iPad.
The charger is actually built for American power sockets but it contains a well
designed converter that fits perfectly in the chargers American socket.
The cable is a well isolated USB 2.0 to USB micro cable.
The layers of plastic that cover the actual port fit
seamlessly with the layers of plastic over the cable.
While charging the charger remains cool probably will never burn through.
The cable seems very durable.
Let’s boot it up!
When connecting your device for the first time you will need to setup it first.
To start the setup you will need to connect with your device using any device that supports a modern webbrowser and browse to “http://192.168.8.1”.
A page will appear and ask for your language. As of now I will select “English”.
With a click on [Next] we are presened by a worldmap and a title that asks for our Timezone.
It’s quite easy and I like infact that the menu is searschable by typing the first letter of a timezone.
As mine is nearly at the top of the list it might take a while to find the correct timezone.
To end our setup we are asked to install a password that is longer than 8 characters.
I like the minimum charachters this enforces the owner to enter a secure password
so his/her router won’t be able to get compromised that easily.

After filling in my password and clicking on [Finish]
I’m presented with the lovely interface that is also included
in other Gl-iNets. Oh and I noticed a detail of perfection. Entering “http://gl-mifi
in the webbrowser will take you automaticly to the routers administration page.

 

My device came with one of the newer firmware but
to make sure I’m updated with the latest version
I’ll have to download the latest firmware-.bin from http://www.gl-inet.com/firmware/mifi/v1/
and install it in Settings -> Firmware by clicking on [Upload Firmware].
Select the firmware and click on [Upgrade]. Make sure that your device has enough power or is charging.

Sadly even after updating to 2.20-7 “http://www.gl-inet.com” stays unreachable.
To do a bit of troubleshooting I figured out that using a different DNS server on your client does not fix this problem.

Let’s open up OpenWRTs Luci by clicking on the [Advanced settings >>]-button in the top right-corner.
Version 2.20-7 is running the lovely “OpenWrt Chaos Calmer 15.05”. My only dissapoinment in using OpenWRT is that its
web interface (Luci) does not feature searching. But its wiki that is only accessible using internet does.

Problems
All have been fixed.

 

Why I didn’t include a review of the EC20 module yet
I can not manage to get a SIM-card within a few days to test the 4G-functionality of the EC-20 chip.
But I will update this post when I received and fully tested one.
Let’s summarize:
Overall build quality: 4.5/5

Packaging: 5/5

Looks: 5/5 It looks great.

Funtionality: 5/5 As its software is based upon Linux,there is endless funtionality that suits its purpose.
And the allready installed software is neatly tuned to daily usage.

Price: 4/5 The price for the full package including shipment and customs is a bit expensive, but it is worth it.

Support: 2.5/5 As most of the support team will try to help you it might take a while.
But it is posible to get extensive support from the OpenWRT team.

Ping speed LAN: 5/5 Without MiFi: 11ms
With MiFi: 10ms

  • Dissapoinments: All have been fixed.

Thank you so much for this in-depth review. I’m really looking forward to purchasing one of these for my trip to Europe in the next few months.

Glad to see this case uses screws to be held together and not plastic tabs. How hard was opening the case? I think I will have to swap out wireless chips quite often, going back and forth from US carriers (EC20-A Chip) to European/Asian carriers (EC20-C Chip), how hard would this process be based on your initial thoughts?

Thanks again, this review was great.