Netgear have developed a well-deserved reputation for network components such as Wi-Fi adapters, routers and more. One of their more recent device groups has been that of mobile hotspots, and so good are they at making them, that they are considered the leaders in their field.
The two devices we look at here, the Explore and the Pro, are bona fide heavyweights. Both carry a full feature list, with components at the top of the technological tree. Power and performance in such compact designs is rare in our world today, with even smartphones getting bigger with every release.
There are, though, a couple of critical differences, as we’ll see.
|4.46 x 2.79 x 0.78|
4.41 x 2.68 x 0.75
Battery Boost Feature
|Yes – MIL-STD 810||No|
Size wise, there’s really not much in it, although the Explore is slightly bigger all round than the Pro. It is also heavier, on account of the bigger battery. Despite advances in technology, there is one basic fact. If you want a longer Lithium Ion battery life, you need a physically bigger battery. Batteries use cells, and more cells means more life and more space needed.
The extra weight the Explore’s larger battery brings is less than half an ounce. This means it’s unlikely to even be noticeable to most people.
If you’re going to mix with the big boys of the mobile hotspot genre, then you need the power to back it up. Fortunately, both the Explore and the Pro deliver handsomely in terms of battery size and life. The Explore just edges the Pro in both, bringing a huge 22 hour battery life into the arena, but the 16 hours of the Pro is not to be sniffed at. Indeed, both devices will outlast almost all the competition.
Over recent years, more and more smartphones and tablets have had dual-band Wi-Fi included. The two bands available to Wi-Fi enabled devices are 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz, and just about every household appliance which transmits or receives signals does so on the 2.4 ghz band. This makes it a very crowded frequency, meaning it suffers massively from interference. The 5 ghz band is much less crowded and can handle much faster speeds as a result.
Put yourself in an airport or a busy hotel, and the extra 5 ghz capability of the Unite Pro might just be worth the purchase cost alone. A 2.4 ghz device only, like the Explore, won’t stop working if there is a lot of interference. It’s performance is likely to suffer, however.
This is a tough one, as both the Explore and the Pro are fantastic examples of a mobile hotspot done right. As techies, we like that that Pro has the 5 ghz Wi-Fi option, but it’s a bonus rather than a deal breaker. At least for most people. In reality, it’s the battery life that might well prove to be the crucial factor in your choice. Battery life isn’t just a little bit better in the Explore, it’s significantly better. The 16 hours of the Pro is great, but it ain’t the 22 hours of the Explore. This is true no matter how you dress it up.
Otherwise, pay your money and take your choice. Both are as good as any hotspots you’ll find anywhere.