Mobile devices

Published on August 25th, 2013 | by Sunit Nandi

34

Huawei E355 unboxing and review

Introduction

3G mobile services have been expensive in India ever since it was launched. Prices have been slashed only after plans of rolling out 4G LTE in India was proposed. So, I was sticking to my home wireline as much as possible for all my internet requirements and avoided using mobile data unless necessary. This situation changed after I moved to college, where having a constant internet connectivity was necessary for doing assignments and projects handed out to me.

At first I was confused about which provider and what dongle to buy. But then, one of my buddies named Ferdous Ahmed Borbhuyian made me extremely clear with my decision. I chose to buy a Reliance 3G prepaid SIM card. After that I ordered a Huawei  E355 mobile WiFi smart dongle which arrived a few days later.

Packaging

The whole unit is enclosed in a paper box with printed illustrations and information. The three photos show how the package looks from the front, back and sides. Click on any picture to enlarge it.

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Unboxing

The box contains the Huawei E355 dongle itself, a warranty card, a safety information booklet, a quick start guide, a pair of stickers with the IMEI and SSID of the device written on it and a QC passed certificate.

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The dongle is then taken out of the packaging. Upon opening the cap and sliding away the cover, the view looks like this after the SIM card is inserted:

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The dongle is made up of hard plastic with another layer of plastic shielding on it, making it very tough. The body has a USB port, an external antenna port and a pair of LED indicators to indicate the 3G network and WiFi conditions.

Installation and usage

The dongle is 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0 and HSPA+ compliant, which means that it claims to deliver 21.6 Mbps downlink and 5.76 Mbps uplink 3G+ access speeds, while giving 300 Mbps local network access to 5 devices connected to it via WiFi. Also, it has a standard USB port to run like any other 3G USB modem. It features sending and receiving SMSes and Huawei’s proprietary signal quality boosting technology as well.

Installing it in Windows is as simple as plugging in the dongle and running the setup program to install the drivers. However, the one thing that makes this dongle different from others is that, it does not install any software for connection and management. All the setup program does is that it installs the dongle as a Ethernet (LAN) adapter, assigning your computer a private 192.168.x.x IP address as a part of the local network it creates.

Alternatively, the dongle can be used as a standalone WiFi router by plugging it into a USB power adapter which supplies 5V at 1A current.

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Managing the dongle is done via a web interface it provides, which by default can be accessed at http://192.168.1.1/. A couple of screenshots of the web interface is given below. Click on any picture to enlarge it.

 

As you can see, the Huawei E355 is a full-fledged router with port-forwarding, NAT, uPnP, DHCP and firewall, that just nicely fits into the body of a USB stick. The amount of features is impressive when compared to its price.

The 3G connectivity of this dongle is superb and it manages to get signals in places where my smartphone wouldn’t usually find any. I haven’t got more than 2 Mbps download speed on this dongle so far, but I’d blame that on the service provider Reliance, as, on uploads, I’ve gone higher than 2 Mbps. The WiFi signal is superb too, as I manage to get good signal strength even while being 3 rooms away from the place where the dongle is plugged into power. My only gripe is that it only supports a maximum of 5 devices connected to it wirelessly, but that shouldn’t be a major problem for most users. If one needs to connect more devices, it’d make better sense to get a bigger 3G router with a faster backplane and having its own internal battery power supply.

Summary

Pros:

  • Pricing
  • Sturdy and tough
  • Easy installation and set-up
  • Full-fledged router in a small size
  • Excellent wireless connectivity
  • Excellent web interface
  • SMS sending and receiving

Cons:

  • Limit of maximum 6 connected devices (1 via USB and 5 via WiFi)
  • Doesn’t have its own battery, always needs external power

Conclusion and verdict

The Huawei E355 is the perfect device at its price point. There is apparently no other 3G dongle that even comes close to it, by the amount of sheer features and the connection quality it provides. Thus, the device is extremely suited to students, travelling executives and family members who often need to share their internet connection with peers, by creating a LAN. Its can also be a good car accessory, when plugged into the power socket, by providing commuters good quality internet access. The disadvantages I’ve mentioned are not a big deal, as the device isn’t really equipped for those purposes. It however, fulfills whatever it promises very excellently, and I’m very satisfied with it.

The Huawei E355 is available for $38 and its newer version Huawei E8231 for $32 on Amazon.com.

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About the Author

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



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