FTC Disclosure: I was compensated in free product by NETGEAR for the purposes of this review. All opinions are honest and remain my own.
Exploring this breathtaking country in an RV is an absolute dream come true. We do not take it for granted. It was made possible because we have very flexible employers. But there was a caveat: our jobs require dependable internet access. Whether it be social media, e-mail, or video-conferencing; our household fully embraces the digital lifestyle. I’m pretty sure this is what you’d call #LifeConnected.
So how does a family of five, moving from campground to campground achieve “internet without worry?” For the digital nomad there are two options for internet service. The first is campground/resort wifi, but this type of connection is often unreliable and hardly secure without complicated VPNs. The other option is cellular data via a mobile hotspot device. Our favorite new hotspot is the AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR.
AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR
The AT&T Unite Explore is produced by NETGEAR, an American company and our preferred manufacturer of networking equipment. We are NETGEAR Ambassadors! The AT&T Unite Explore is a mobile hotspot; a portable device no bigger than your cell phone. It utilizes AT&T’s global 4G network to provide users with high-speed data for all their devices including laptops and iPads. Users connect to the AT&T Unite Explore through an easy-to-use and secure wifi network or through direct tethering. There are many similar hotspots on the market but this rugged little device is our favorite new toy aboard the RV. Here are my top five (plus bonus) features for the full-time RVer and Campground warrior:
4G LTE from AT&T
Speed and coverage will vary, but we’ve maintained 4G LTE status throughout our testing in numerous Michigan parks and campgrounds. These speeds are perfect for the types of data we most commonly consume, such as business email and video-conferencing.
The AT&T Unite Explore broadcasts a secure wifi signal to all approved users. This beats campground public wifi by limiting who can see our internet activity, like password entry and banking information. We can even create a time-limited guest network with parental controls for our children.
I can’t begin to describe the frustrations of limited battery life, but that hasn’t been the case with the AT&T Unite Explore. We maintained all-day usage with one blogging laptop and two video-streaming iPads (you can connect up to 15 devices) connected to the hotspot. In stand-by mode the device has lasted for days without charging; it’s always ready when we need it.
Connecting the hotspot to AT&T service was pretty straightforward – requiring the input of device serial numbers and my personal information. I power-cycled the device and immediately began receiving and sending data. The wifi network is preconfigured but can easily be customized through the touchscreen menu.
Weatherproof & Durable
We live and work primarily in RV campgrounds and on beaches. Our equipment must be rugged and moderately weatherproof. The AT&T Unite Explore built with a tough rubberized exterior is certified for protection against shock, water, dust, and dirt. Perfect for tagging along on our daily hiking and beach adventures.
We did not test this feature, but the AT&T Unite Explore appears to allow extendability with an adaptor and external antennas. We hardly stay out in the boonies, but we do have an externally mounted omni-directional wifi antenna specifically for this purpose.
The AT&T Unite Explore requires very little technical expertise to get up and running. NETGEAR has supplied users with the device, a battery and a charging cable. After inserting an AT&T sim card you must reattach the battery and let the device charge for a few hours.
Users can call AT&T or easily setup their account online. AT&T offers a variety of data packages for all sorts of uses, but we use our device primarily for important business emails (requires security) and an occasional video-conference, which does not rely on a large data package. If we anticipate heavy video-conferencing needs, we are able to upgrade our accounts. Upon completion of service sign-up, a brief power-cycle (toggle the device off and back on) let the AT&T Unite Explore quickly find cellular service.
Secure WiFi Setup
I highly recommend securing the AT&T Unite Explore with your own customized wifi network name and password. This is extremely easy to execute on the AT&T Unite Explore’s responsive touch-screen display. Consult the user manual if you get stuck.
Partnered with an AT&T account, this device has gotten us out of a few jams recently. Often we must leave the RV because it gets loud, so the AT&T Unite Explore with its fantastic battery life and rugged style is perfect to bring along for remote office work. I cannot recommend the AT&T Unite Explore enough. If you have any questions about AT&T Unite Explore visit the product website at ATT.com. You can also feel free to leave a comment below.