Hotbox, a cell-powered WiFi hotspot


Inside a Hotbox is a cellular highspeed data card—EVDO, Edge, whatever you want. The box converts the cellular connection into a local WiFi hotspot. The company that makes it has equipped the particular model above with an M-Tec cellular amp, a high dB marine antenna, and even a VOIP phone, which sounds like quite the package. Unfortunately its Web site doesn’t really detail this setup very well, and also leaves out the daunting $4,500 price tag! The bigger picture, though, is that I’m hearing more and more about this cell-to-WiFi concept, and I like it.  I even came across a Norwegian company that’s at least planning a product like this that also integrates NMEA 0183 data. That’s a real wow, because then your boat’s hotspot can both put you online and feed GPS, etc. to your charting program, AND the same data can be send out to the Internet, meaning that, “external users with appropriate software installed can follow the boat’s progress, …a very powerful tool for tracking, monitoring or fleet management.”  High speed cellular data is also the foundation of the interesting KVH/Microsoft product (WiFi too) I got a glimpse of in Miami. KVH has now posted a press release, but pricing isn’t on it. I’m told that the system with an external amp and antenna will be “under $1,500” with “all-you-can-eat Internet and MSN TV service under $100/month.” Plus I think you can pop the PCMIA card and use the cell data connection off the boat, in your laptop. Given all that, and KVH customer support, the souped up Hotbox looks a little pricey.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague.

13 Responses

  1. IGreen says:

    Unfortunately the Marine electronics industry is rife with pirates. Add the word “Marine” somewhere in the description and you can multiply the cost by 10. There really is no reason why Marine electronics cost as much as they do.

  2. RJ says:

    I have been keeping an eye on these guys
    802.11B/G + EVDO

  3. Terry says:

    Well, that IS a nice yellow box 🙂

  4. Russ says:

    EVDO is nice, I have an EVDO modem now. But don’t be fooled by the coverage. As soon as you leave the major metro areas, it’s back to 1XRTT at about 50Kb. Do you wnat to do all your sailing in a big city?
    And of course as soon as you leave the US, it’s history because most of the world is using GSM, not CDMA.

  5. Eliboat says:

    RE: Junxion…I was going to say that I know I, or anyone else with a basic sense of technology and some motivation could build an evdo hotspot for sub $500. $4500 is insulting.

  6. andrew smith says:

    here is how to make one yourself

  7. Jim Hebert Jim Hebert says:

    Compare this with the $250 Kyocera KR-1 router:

  8. Randy says:

    While I agree somewhat with some of you, what we have failed to notice is that all of this equipment is bundled up into one solution. I’m sure I could build a box, get a marine amplifier and a voip phone and put it in a nice case like this one. Do I have time to do that? No. If this price wasn’t so high i may be inclined to get one for myself. Great Idea though!

  9. igreen says:

    I dunno. I have an inflated opinion of the value of my time. 1/2 hour to visit a wireless provider to get the cell card. Another 1/2 hour to visit the local Fry’s electronics to pick-up the magical marine high gain antenna, VOIP phone, and Pelikan case. 5 minutes to order the WiFi/Cell basestation online. I’ll be generous, $1000 worth of parts and 2 hours of my time? $1750/hr? My point being…the solution provided is a collection of parts that any half way tech savvy individual could pill together. But…juding from the photo of the yacht on their web page, it seems they are targeting a market segment that is capable of printing their own money. I guess this product touched a nerve with most of us who are tired of being gouged by manufacrurers everytime they use the word “marine” in their product description.

  10. Samuel says:

    Am I to assume that this Hotbox has an amplifier built into the case? It’s hard to tell from the picture. If all this product simply is a hotspot/cellular router, then I fully agree $4500 is WAY to pricey. However, if it’s 1 stop shop for your wireless internet requirements (router, amp, VoIP and protective/portable case)I suppose $4500 is not too bad, considering I just opened West Marine’s sales mailer to find a $4400 KVH Satellite TV system. I guess price depends on what you value.
    BTW – I looked into the Junxion box, no external antenna ports, so connecting to an amp is not possible.

  11. Bill Kearney says:

    Actually, with something like a dual-slot soekris system it’s pretty easy to set one up.

  12. Tech.Dirt says:

    EDVO is way to slow to provide good wireless coverage.. This thing is a piece of junk, try to have more than one person connect to it and it’s worse than a slow dial up connection.. Save your money, the hotbox is a headache.

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