Huawei Power-Fi E8221 review

Introduction

When it comes to mobility in data connectivity, USB-powered data cards, often called USB dongles, are the most preferable devices across the globe. Though smartphones can now provide hotspot support for data sharing over Wi-Fi, the faster connectivity speed of data cards still make them more useful in intensive operations. Huawei is among the leading brands in offering a wide range of data cards in the global markets and this time we have with us its Power-Fi E8221. We are using the Power-Fi E8221 from a couple of weeks to cover an in-depth review so here are our words.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221

What’s in the Box

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 is a mid-range USB data card that comes with standard packaging. The retail package has the Power-Fi E8221 unit and a quick start guide. Though the data card can be connected directly via AC socket, there is no USB adapter inside its box. This means that users have to purchase a separate adapter but it does not matter a lot as the adapter is available in the market for a nominal price.

Its Design

USB data cards are usually available in a thumb drive-like form factor. In the same sense, Huawei also used the thumb drive form factor. The Power-Fi E8221 has plastic built with a compact design which makes it as a mobile device for data connectivity. As the size of the USB data card is quite compact, its weight is also light enough when it comes to mobility.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 with USB 2.0

The Power-Fi E8221 has USB 2.0 interface for connectivity and a cap is also provided for protecting the USB port. The top side of the data card has Huawei’s branding on the top along with Power-Fi printed to distinguish with other USB data cards. There are two LED indicators available on the top side in blue and green colors, which indicate USB power as well as WLAN connectivity.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 with standard 6-pin SIM card slot on the rear

The rear side of the data card states that it features connectivity speed up to 14.4 Megabit/per second (Mbps). The rear panel is removable and a mini SIM card slot is available for providing data connectivity. In case users have a micro-SIM or nano-SIM, they are required to use an adapter for using their SIM card with the data card.

Overall, the designing of the Power-Fi E8221 is compact and quite similar to other available USB data cards. The black-colored plastic material with matte finish is solid enough for normal usage and users can easily carry the data card in their pockets.

Now turn to the next page to get deeper into our review on Huawei Power-Fi E8221 data card.

In Depth

People in today’s scenario require Internet access on the go, no matter whether they are using a notebook, tablet or a smartphone. Huawei designed the Power-Fi E8221 with the same view, to provide Internet access on the go, with a compact design to ease all such people.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 is equipped with a USB 2.0 interface and comes with a standard 6-pin SIM card slot to give users the ability to access high-speed data as well sharing data over Wi-Fi. For data connectivity, the data card supports GSM/GPRS/EGPRS R99 WCDMA/HSDPA R5, HSUPA R6 and HSPA+ R7 and IEEE 802.11b/g/n is available for data sharing. Users can share their packet data with up to 10 devices through WLAN and can also secure the Wi-Fi access using the provided WEP, WPA, WPA2-PSK and WPA/WPA2-PSK security algorithms.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221

The Power-Fi E8221 supports all the currently available Windows and Mac OS versions. Additionally, users can plug it with any compatible tablet or smartphone to get connected to the Web. The data card can also be connected with any AC socket through a USB adapter to provide Wi-Fi hotspot support in a decent range.

Users do not need to install any third-party software for connecting to Internet through the Power-Fi E8221. The data card itself comes with all the necessary drivers and files which automatically install on a desktop when connected via USB.

The interface of the data card control panel is easy-to-use for the newbies. Users are required to enter username and password to get started with the data card. The interface provides information on the homepage about sent and received data packets, WLAN status and signal strength. Users can disconnect or connect data access right from the homepage.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 with easy-to-use control panel

In addition to providing general information, users can send and receive text messages from the control panel. Similar to mobile devices, the control panel has an Inbox, Outbox and Drafts to give an extensive text messaging support. Furthermore, users can also choose between 3G and 2G networks through the control panel.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 with text messaging support

For data conscious users, the control panel provides in-depth statistics about monthly data usage and total data usage. Similarly, information about connected WLAN clients is also available on the statistics page.

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 with statistics on data usage

The Power-Fi E8221 connected well across multiple ISPs that we chosen during our testing. As claimed by the company, the data card gave us about 5.76 Mbps upload speed and 14.4 Mbps download speed on a 3G network. The data card does not support 4G LTE connectivity but as the service is so far limited in India, it is not an issue to be considered on high note.

On our testing, the Power-Fi E8221 provided Wi-Fi connectivity in a range of over 200 square yards. This much range is enough for using a Wi-Fi connectivity source in indoors, especially when using at home or a workplace. After connecting to the Wi-Fi network, users are required to enter credentials on the connected devices to get data access from the data card.

The control panel does not support Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) protocol for communicating with telecom operator, which allows to check remaining data in prepaid connections. There is also no support for voice calls which means that users won’t get call alerts through the data card when it is connected with a desktop.

Overall, the Power-Fi E8221 performs decent across the avenues it is designed for. There is Wi-Fi support and the data card can even provide Wi-Fi connectivity without a desktop, with connecting through a car charger or power mains. This can be considered as its USP in the current market.

Now turn to the next page to know about the features and competitors of Huawei Power-Fi E8221. Our conclusion on the review is also available on the next page.

Features

Competitors

Huawei Power-Fi E8221

Conclusion

Huawei Power-Fi E8221 has all the great things in a small package to give Internet access on the go. When comparing with its close competitors, the Power-Fi E8221 is a decent option to pick in an affordable price segment.

Specifications

ModelHuawei Power-Fi E8221
Network supportGSM/GPRS/EGPRS R99 WCDMA/HSDPA R5, HSUPA R6, HSPA+ R7
Operating System supportWindows: XP SP3 and above; Mac: OS X10.6 and above; Linux; Android
Download SpeedUp to 14.4Mbps
Frequency Bands850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2100MHz
ChipsetBalong V3
WLAN StandardIEEE 802.11 b/g/n
SIM support2G/3G/3.5G normal SIM
StorageNo