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How to turn your Wi-Fi iPad into an iPad 3G

Maybe you’re one of those people who couldn’t wait for the 3G version of Apple’s iPad and instead had to run out and get the Wi-Fi version right away. We mainly think of the iPad as a living room/kitchen device, but with the warmer weather arriving you might be feeling a bit of 3G envy, seeing newly minted iPad 3G owners soaking up the sun in their local parks and coffee shops while tapping, swiping, and pinching away.

Here are two solutions available for you to turn a portable wireless router that takes the 3G signal it receives and broadcasts it as a Wi-Fi signal: MyWi and MiFi app.

Solution 1. Turn your Wifi iPad into iPad 3G with MyWi app

The MyWi Mobile Hotspot app is the first and recommended solution. All you will need is this app which can be downloaded for $9.99 and a 3G enabled phone with a data plan. Once you have downloaded the app onto your 3G phone, in our case an iPhone, you will need to tether it to your iPad and you’re all set!

Features of MyWi app are as follows:
– Create WiFi Hotspot to connect mutiple laptops or mobile devices to share your iPhone’s internet connection
– 40 bit and 104 bit WEP Security to prevent others from accessing your WiFi HotSpot
– Ability to enable USB and Bluetooth Tethering on your iPhone as well
– Broadcasts the Network Name (SSID) – no need to fuss with creating an adhoc network on your laptop
– Uses less battery and much faster then PdaNet due to native routing
– Shows up and down bandwidth usage.

Solution 2. Turn your wifi iPad into iPad 3G with MiFi

The Novatel MiFi is a portable wireless router that takes the 3G signal it receives and broadcasts it as a Wi-Fi signal.

Hooking the MiFi up to our non-3G iPad was easy. We powered on the MiFi box, and its signal was immediately recognized by the iPad, and listed in the Network Settings submenu, along with all the other Wi-Fi signals in the area. Selecting the MiFi connection, we were prompted to enter a password (as one would do for any secure Wi-Fi connection); the password is a string of numbers printed on a sticker on the bottom of the MiFi unit itself. Up to five devices can connect at once, and the device’s range is about 30 feet.

Just like a regular wireless router, you can access a control panel from a connected device (via a Web browser pointed to the MiFi’s default IP address), but for the most part, our experience was a set-it-and-forget-it one.

One big advantage of using the MiFi as opposed to an iPad 3G is that we were able to avoid any of the streaming-video content restrictions reported by iPad 3G users. The ABC video player worked fine, as did the Netflix streaming app (an update allowing the ABC app to work on the iPad 3G is reportedly on the way).

In anecdotal use, the MiFi was fine for Web surfing and even video streaming, but didn’t feel as fast as our normal 802.11n home Wi-Fi connection. Here in New York, both residential cable modem speeds and 3G speeds are notoriously dodgy, and your mileage may vary greatly. Using the Speedtest.net app from the Apple App Store, we got about 14Mbps download speed from our home Wi-Fi connection, and 1Mbps from the MiFi (which was using the Verizon network).