It has been a long time since I carried around a dedicated wireless modem. The combination of super fast 4G connections in our phones, generous data plans and the ease of tethering has made these devices almost extinct.
The HTC 5G Hub is carving out a new niche in the category. As the name suggests, this strange little device connects to Telstra’s 5G network where possible, allowing you to get the maximum speeds available without a 5G phone. While there are a few 5G handsets in the market, adoption is not widespread, and battery life takes a huge hit over 5G.
This HTC 5G Hub is a helpful bridge to super fast mobile data in the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to live or work in an area covered by 5G. Its giant 7660mAh can last all day with up to 20 devices connected to it, but even that massive battery drained quickly under a 5G connection. I saw a 30 per cent battery drop in just an hour of 5G connection.
The device looks like a very simple, tiny Google Home. It’s easy to set up, and defaults to a black home screen showing the time, weather, the amount of devices currently connected and the speed of the network. There’s even an Ethernet port if you want to use it a permanent replacement for your home internet connection.
But behind this simple view is the full power of an Android tablet, albeit a tiny one. That means you can install YouTube, Stan or Netflix on the Hub and watch shows on the tiny 5-inch screen, or plug the device into a television with a USB-C to HDMI adapter. More importantly for the business demographic the Hub is courting, Android allows you to create a VPN at the connection level, and protect all your devices on the go.
Throughout Melbourne’s CBD I was getting some remarkable speeds on the device; seeing 600–800Mbps down over 5G.
Out in the suburbs of Melbourne I rarely saw a 5G connection, but even here Telstra’s 4G network was regularly showing me 400Mbs down and 200Mbs up, which is about four times the speed of my current NBN connection.
These speeds are tempting enough to make me want to cancel my NBN connection but, with limited 5G coverage and Telstra’s 5G plans rather expensive for the small amount of data included, I’ll wait.
For a sales person who travels between the major cities however, or a photographer who needs to be able to upload hundreds of large raw files, the HTC Hub could be worthwhile business expense. It’s available from Telstra for $17 per month over 24 months, plus the cost of a data plan.