What is it? The Virgin Mobile ZTE Peel 3200
What can make use of it? An iPod Touch, 2nd or 3rd Generation (or any other Wi-Fi device)
What is its function? To provide a wireless network to Wi-Fi devices, much like a MiFi device for laptops
Tell me more! Okay!
The ZTE Peel 3200 is a pretty nifty little device. First, it functions as a case for your iPod: simply push your iPod into the grooves in the Peel and voila! You have a back-side case, which leaves you access to your volume buttons and your power button/headphone jack. It’s pretty bulky – okay, REALLY bulky – in your pocket, but you need to remember that the thing is essentially all battery and wireless antenna.
For $30 (to purchase the device) and $20/month (for 500 MB of data), the device gives you a WiFi network to connect your iPod Touch to. Think of it as a 3G network that you connect to by powering on the Peel. Push the button on the back of the Peel and some green LEDs light up on the back. Search for a WiFi network, find the Virgin Peel network and connect… and you’re done. No special setup or anything along those lines. You can have up to two devices connect to the Peel at one time, though you only really need one connection for your iPod. The connection was solid – more so than my iPhone 4S’s Verizon network, from time to time. I did run into some black-out spots, but you find that with smartphones as well.
The rated battery life for the Peel is about 3 hours – and that’s about right. I got nearly 3 with some intense browsing (watching some YouTube videos and using sites like CNET and Verge with lots of pictures). Heck, I was more worried about the iPod battery dying before the Peel itself.
I’ll admit, for $20/month, 500 MB isn’t too bad, but I would’ve preferred to see 1 GB. That being said, the Peel offers a delightful solution for people who would like an iPod Touch (preferably 2nd or 3rd generation) that can be used over a cellular network, more similar to an iPad or iPhone. If you need some data, the Peel will get you through the day – if your day is three hours!