If you have or want an iPad, but would rather have a wireless carrier other than AT&T, you now have another option. You may have already known about the ability to use a MiFi mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device with the iPad, but an anonymous blog poster at the Dish Network Blog has found a way to hack his iPad to put the MiFi inside for added convenience and portability.
The modification was done by disassembling the iPad, removing the AT&T 3G card inside, and replacing the card with the inner-workings of a Verizon MiFi device. The result is an iPad that works on the Verizon network, and also functions as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five users.
Despite the benefits, including increased download speeds with the dedicated Wi-Fi connection, the hack isn’t without some serious drawbacks. Disassembly of an iPad by anyone other than an authorized service representative will instantly void the warranty. Additionally, the author of the blog has reported loss of GPS functionality without the 3G card, and some reduced volume due to having to remove half of the speaker resonating chamber.
While this may be a pretty simple modification for experienced hardware hackers, this one definitely isn’t for amateurs. Enabling the MiFi in the iPad requires altering and soldering some circuitry. There is also a switch that needs to be installed if you want to override the Mi-Fi power-saving features, and there is no indication as to how all of this affects the iPad’s battery life.
So, considering the benefits and issues, is it worth it? That’s up to each iPad owner to decide for his or herself, of course. I think I’ll just use my Verizon MiFi externally, or wait for the day when the iPad is enabled for another network.