Setting up the Three MiFi Huawei Wireless Modem E586 is as simple as it gets: pop off back cover, insert SIM card, insert battery, turn on. You may need to charge it somewhere in there, but the principle remains.
There's no software or anything to set up before you start using it – just connect and go. If you want to change any settings or anything, then you can just type in http://3.home from your browser to access all of the options.
The screen on the front is great for keeping track of simple information. It shows your current connection strength, how many Wi-Fi devices are connected, the battery level, the amount of data used and the time you've been connected.
As we said, press the new Key button and it will display the SSID of that particular device, and the key to connect to it, which makes it a breeze to give access to a new device.
Once we'd got connected and were out and about, we found the MiFi to generally be quite a strong performer. We got several different speed readings using the Speedtest.net app as we moved around, but were generally getting just above 2Mbps.
Notably, this was better than a 3G phone we had for comparison (though it was on a different network), which managed generally between 1.5Mbps and 2MBps.
Of course, that kind of speed test doesn't tell you much about how things will perform in the real word, but we can say that general web browsing with the MiFi E586 was perfectly acceptable. Sometimes there was a short delay before pages started to load, but even media-heavy sites such as TechRadar or BBC Sport didn't take long at all before they were good to go.
Similarly, YouTube video was able to play without any wait for buffering – the MiFi was able to keep well ahead.
Obviously, all of this has to be tempered by the coverage where you live. The coverage checker on Three's site doesn't differentiate between different speeds of 3G coverage, but we were testing in Bath city centre, which has far better coverage than most rural areas, but not quite as good as many other cities, especially London.
The MiFi is also strong when it comes to battery life. It's rated for 4.5 hours of use, and we'd say that's accurate, but for continuous use, not just a bit of browsing here and there.
One afternoon, we took it out with us and had devices connected to it for six hours, browsing the web, watching a couple of YouTube videos, but then moving on and letting it sleep while we found somewhere new to test it. Afterwards, it still had half its battery left.
Though this means you couldn't get, say, a continuous day's work on a laptop out of the MiFi E586, it should last you most of the day for the usual kind of pick-up-and-put-down tablet use.
If you really want to take control of battery life, though, you can opt to let it not automatically connect itself to the mobile networks when you connect to it through a device, but instead make it so that you have to manually tell it to connect. This will stop anything like background email fetching or Push notifications using battery life.