Design Features and Engineering
Upon first glance at the T-Mobile MF61 mobile hotspot, you might actually think that it's a cell phone. The design of this ZTE hotspot looks like one of the clamshell Smartphone’s of the mid 2000’s. But while the outward physical appearance is a mix of retro-tech and modern-tech, it’s inner workings are indeed from 2011.
The CTE hotspot features a satin lined black outer shell with rounded edges and corners, and a small OLED status and on the front face. The device also supports the micro-SD card slot for storage of local files. The power button is down on the side edges device as well as the WPS network setup button. Like other hotspots you'll find the familiar micro-USB port that allows conductivity to the computer, USB Tethering , and charging through the USB port.
The ZTE supports WPS network setup, which makes configuring wireless security between two devices incredibly simple: just press the WPS button on hotspot, and your devices will lock onto it without the need for network names and passwords.
It was reassuring to see that the ZTE MG61 mobile hotspot supports an external antenna. Although we really didn't seem to need an external antenna in our testing and general day-to-day use, an external antenna is a great option for those with marginal cell signals or poor reception. Adding on a high gain antenna or a signal amplifier can often increase reception by as much as 500%.
The hotspot’s OLED status display panel was a feature we really came to appreciate. The OLED panel was incredibly vivid and crisp, make for easy reading in bright daylight as well as indirect angle viewing.
The MF61 status display indicates signal strength with up to five bars. Battery power remaining is indicated by up to four bars. In it would have been nice to see the battery indicator as an actual percentage number or perhaps having a little bit more resolution rather than simply reporting the current charge in steps of 25%. The panel will also report type of signal the device is locked onto, 4G (HSPA+), 3G (HSPA) or 2G (EDGE). The hotspot’s power management seems to be pretty aggressive in attempting to preserve battery power, as powers down the display panel after a minute of so. Pressing the power button will force the OLED display to light up again.