It is now common that one important service or comfort thing to have while travelling is data connection. While there are trips we take specifically to go off the grid, but most of the travels we take now just cannot do without the need for data connection. A good, reliable and stable connection is what we crave for to keep connected with home where ever we go.
I had the opportunity of trying out Japanese brand NINJA WiFi in my recent trip to Tokyo. The overall experience is very pleasant and my cousin and I had more smiles than frowns for their service.
Easy to order, pick up and return
The overall process does not require you to speak a word of Japanese.
The order of the portable WiFi router is done online via NINJA WiFi website (http://ninjawifi.com/en/) and once you get a confirmation, you get the details via email on how to pick up and return the portable WiFi.
Confirmation email is in English and all you need to do is to print out the email and bring it along with you for collection at their pick up counter.
The interesting thing to note is that the pickup counter is a counter of a parcel forwarding company. I was slightly confused at first upon reaching the airport arrival hall, but like what Hagrid told Harry; “Stick to your ticket, Harry. Stick to your ticket.” and I stuck to the instructions on my email and went ahead to show the counter personnel my email.
The Ninja WiFi logo on the email immediately alert them for a portable WiFi collection. All I needed was to sign out the machine which was tagged with my name and I am ready to go.
Returning the portable WiFi was also easy, just return to the counter at the departure hall (details were in the confirmation email as well) and you are done.
I was in fact surprised by how easy the whole pick up and drop off process was.
I pickup my WiFi at Narita
What’s inside the package
The WiFi router, charger adapter, charger cable, instructional manual and some other advertisements flyers.
I was using Samsung Note 4 and my cousin was using iPhone 6 Plus. Both works.
I also used my Windows laptop to log onto the portable WiFi once in the hotel room. No problem at all.
Using the portable WiFi
Both SSID network name and password were conveniently located on the back of the portable WiFi. The portable WiFi router came fully charged and ready. Just turn the portable WiFi on, latch your phone onto the WiFi network and you are ready to go.
We kept the WiFi in the black pouch it came with and into my cousin’s backpack and we had non-stop service all the way. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
What about the speed?
The advertised speed was 75mbps downlink and 25mbps uplink maximum. Here’s a screenshot of a simple data link checking app as well as the properties panel when I connected to the WiFi.
Keep in mind that there were two mobile devices connected, I supposed this is half the whole bandwidth since my cousin and I were sharing the WiFi on two separate devices.
Throughout our trip, I was uploading Instagram pictures, Snapchat videos as well as calling my parents and friends over Watsapp and Facebook messenger. My cousin was constantly on her phone Watsapp messaging with her friends and sending pictures. We do not have problems sending high-resolution pictures over Watsapp or experience any drop in speed as far as photos are concern.
We also used our Google translate (which needs data connection), and Google Maps for train schedules and walking directions. We did not experience any lag in data speed.
I had also made 2 data calls using WiFi.
During my trip, I made two VoIP calls – once on Watsapp and once on Facebook.
1st call I made was to my mum via Watsapp while she was at home (latching on our house’s fibre network connection) and I was in the hotel. The call quality is superb and there was almost no lag at all.
2nd call was made to a friend via Facebook messenger while I was in Disneyland and I don’t exactly know what connection he had. Assuming he was leveraging on his 3G local network; the call itself has a 2 second lag but the quality is good and his voice was clear without much distortion and minimal feedback.
I will give a 99% for coverage and also for reliability and stability.
Simply because there were two occasions or rather two bizarre areas where both of us did not get any data connection on both our phones.
Where did that happen?
Place 01: The most inside, nearest to the cold drinks fridge areas of the convenient stores.
Weird, I know. We still could not fathom why or how that happened because our phones just disconnected from the WiFi themselves when we were shopping inside those convenient stores. It was as if some anti-WiFi ninjas in there trying to block our connections. And only when we were in a slightly bigger convenient store.
We did not have any problems when we were shopping underground in Shinjuku or Shibuya.
Place 02: On board the Rapid service train of the Keiyo Line from Maihama to Tokyo Station (about 5 stops).
Only my Samsung was affected all the time when we travel on that rapid service. My cousin’s iPhone still had connection with only one downtime. I do not know if it was because that the train was travelling in fast speeds in the tunnel or if the dongle needs time to pick up, or it was simply phone problem?
Then again, we did not have problems when we were travelling on the Narita Express Service (NEX) which I think was travelling at a speed way faster than the rapid service trains.
However, I happen to experience similar issues too with my telco service in Singapore. I notice there too are dead zones for data connection (eg. from Lavender to Aljunied) where the trains either go fast speeds in or out of the tunnel that the connection is simply cut off and needed some time before the data connection gets connected again. Oh well. That is a mystery that may not be easily solved.
Price, how much does it cost per day?
The unlimited data portable WiFi rental service per day cost 900 yen + tax (972yen @ 8% tax), which is about SGD11.40 a day (accurate as at Oct 2015).
I remembered my last trip I used another WiFi router company and their service (4G LTE) cost me about close to SGD100 for 5 days of usage, but this company only cost me about SGD92 for 8 days of usage, so it is definitely value for money.
Pros of NINJA WiFi Portable WiFi router
- Despite the price tag of SGD11.40 a day, the portable WiFi allows multiple device connection to it. Both my cousin and I were using it all the time in Tokyo. Take that cost and divide by two, each of us are only paying about SGD5.70 a day for high-speed data WiFi.
- The NINJA WiFi portable router I took had an amazing battery life. With two mobile device latching on it almost 24/7, the router battery last for about 30 hours straight per full charge. The adapter that comes with it also charges the router very quickly, you can get almost a full battery within 2 hours of charging.
- The NINJA WiFi router does not really heat up that much, unless it is charging. I remember the last time I had used a portable WiFi service and that router heat up pretty easily and drains it battery too fast. NINJA WiFi router does a better job in this area.
Cons of NINJA WiFi Portable WiFi router
- Again, multiple devices connected means the group you have must be constantly near to the router in order to be connected to the WiFi network. There is a definite range of around 5 to 7 metres maximum, depending on the environment you are in.
- Okay, this is not a negative point but I am just annoyed by the fact that the router refuse to work when I have it in my coat pocket. I do not understand why but it work perfectly well when my cousin carried it in her backpack. Humph.
The NINJA WiFi is definitely one of the most stable and reliable WiFi service I ever experienced. Fuss free and value for money, and the router is small and easily fit into small bags. The coverage is good, despite minor hiccups in the most unconventional places, which I can’t really fault that.
If you are travelling to Japan, I definitely will recommend NINJA WiFi for your data / internet connection needs.
Good, reliable and stable network.
Data speed as promise and minimal or no lag in VoIP calls.
Router has long battery life: Approximate 30 hours per full charge.
Cost: 900 yen + tax per day (about SGD11.40 as at October 2015)