Netgear Nighthawk M1 Review: The Answer To Our Hotspot Prayers?

By James Graham
on 24 May 2017

Someday soon they’ll look back on us and smirk at the way we fretted about running out of data before our monthly plan expired.

As for the price we paid for the privilege of all that stress, don’t even get me started.

Until that glorious day it’s a bunfight out there as telcos scrap for our fragile loyalty in an increasingly fractured market.

In the mobile hotspot arena, Telstra is touting its new Netgear Nighthawk M1 as the answer to our insatiable appetite for a buffer-free connection wherever we go.

It certainly has some grunt under its tiny hood: the brochure purports to have maximum download speeds of up to 1Gbps under the right conditions. To put that in context, you could download a 300MB one hour TV episode in as little as 16 seconds.

What’s more you can connect up to 20 Wi-Fi enabled devices at home, or on the go.

It can also stream media to connected devices from a microSD card, flash drive, or external hard drive, and there’s also an Ethernet port in case you need to physically connect the Nighthawk M1 to a device or to a network switch.

So is this Telstra-exclusive the answer to our mobile hotspot prayers?

We were given a device to road-test, pre-loaded with 16GB of data to find out.

What we liked:

This is one sexy little number with a soft to touch dimpled exterior and fancy LED display. It’s not small enough to fit into your pocket, but it’ll fit nicely into your bag and only weighs 240g. The battery life is impressive too. Charge up for a day and even the most regular use didn’t leave us short while out and about. Speed wise, there’s no doubt it’s faster than most mobile devices of this type, but….

What we didn’t like:

It chews through the data at a superhuman rate. With seemingly only moderate use, our 16GB was gone in seven days. If you’re on a Telstra monthly plan, that kind of use bumps you up into the 80GB $150 per month stratosphere (contract minimum spend $3600). Data-free streaming of AFL, NRL, netball, and Apple Music on all plans is a nice off-set, however.


It’s a great looking device with impressive speeds and bonus tech, but at this price, I’ll stick to the simplicity (and savings) of hot-spotting on my smartphone thanks. You can buy the unit outright for $360 to avoid the pricey contract options, but I can’t see enough upside when rivals are offering much cheaper data plans, and modems.

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