If you follow BentoSMB, you'll know that we are going digital. What this means exactly is something we cover in a previous blog post. In a nutshell, it involves travelling around the world while working and the idea of being digital nomads.
Now, to be digital nomads you need a few things, primarily a computer and internet access. Sitting in coffee shops, AirBnB's, and co-working spaces work well, but when you are a little more remote or mobile, relying on finding a wifi hotspot can be rough.
This is where Skyroam Solis comes in. A small orange puck, it connects to LTE wireless in a ton of countries, converts it to a wifi signal, and is battery operated so you can use it anywhere there is LTE. With day passes starting at $9 and monthly passes around $120, it sounds like a pretty good deal. And with Unlimited Wifi, how could you not think this was going to be great?
Forward: I am writing this with as little bias as possible, but I will warn you that I returned my device after a bit of deceptive marketing (in my opinion). I'll get to that in a bit.
Ordering the device is simple. You can easily buy online and it ships to your door pretty quickly. They seem to ship out of the US (at least to Canada) so there was a bit of confusion with UPS, but it finally got to me after a phone call. The cost is about $100 for the device.
Opening up the package: It comes in a nice box, has a charger, and as it only has a USB C port, it has a converter so you can plug in your devices to charge (yes, it functions as a battery pack as well). Everything looked great, connecting to the mobile website was simple, connected on a free 20-minute pass to test it out, and saw great results right away.
The device itself has great build quality, looks like it would hold up to drops and the occasional splash of water, and overall performed well.
We got this device about 5 days before we were travelling to Costa Rica, historically one of the worst countries in the world for internet. People there mentioned how good the LTE was, so I figured this would be a great device for this trip. My wife and I would be able to use the device when the cable internet was being difficult. Unfortunately, it fell flat due to a bit of fine print.
You see, while it will provide unlimited internet access, it throttles your bandwidth after 500MB each day. To begin with, we had speeds in the 10-11 Mbps, which was great. We could have a video call, download assets for site builds, and use Google Drive reliably. We then noticed that speed dropped to a basically unusable level of 25-50 Kbps. We couldn't even refresh our email without waiting 5 minutes.
At this point, I contacted Skyroam and asked what was going on. They pointed me to their FAQ (which at the time of this writing is not even linked properly on their website) that states they throttle after 500MB each day. This information is surprisingly nowhere in any of their advertising or even really anywhere on their site other than the FAQ page. We had seen enough and realized that as we had predicted, this system was too good to be true.
When we returned from Costa Rica, we proceeded to chat with the customer service team, who sent us a return shipping label. We packed it up, sent it to California, and were done with it. Overall this experience was fine, it took some follow-up, and I finally received my refund.
I, unfortunately, would not recommend this device to anyone really. There are better solutions that have you simply replace your SIM on your phone, and depending on the country, can be a lot cheaper than $9 a day or $120 a month. Not only that, you then don't have to carry around another device or rely on turning it on and connecting to wifi.
The throttling really go to me though, I felt as though they misrepresented themselves, and still do. I recommended to their team that they be more forthcoming with the throttling they do, how it works and to set better expectations for their customers. I have yet to hear back from this on that, but if I do I will certainly update this post.
I hope that this post helps you make up your mind on something like this. I know a lot of people have had great results with it, but if you are like me and eat up 500MB of bandwidth in less then an hour of work, this is not going to be the device for you.
As mentioned above, we will be travelling a lot in Europe this year. We both have unlocked phones, so both plan on using a separate SIM card while we are away. We'll write another post about this with some reviews as well!
Earlier this year Shopify launched the Shopify App Challenge. The brief, create an app that helps solve a challenge amplified by COVID-19, but that would also have staying power beyond the pandemic crisis. We knew, without a doubt, that we wanted to be a part of this challenge. So, our small team set to work building our second public Shopify application, Recipes.