First you’ll want to chuck it in the sea, then you’ll fall in love with the Skyroam Solis.
It’s been four months now that I’ve been trying to review one of Skyroam’s travel wifi hotspot devices. This small portable Wi-Fi hotspot called the Skyroam Solis is a travelers dream, in theory. In reality, it’s a finicky device that needs careful attention, pre-planning and a boatload of patience to use. But when it works… you’ll be thrilled, amazed and ecstatic. And it just might save your trip.
What is Skyroam Solis?
Skyroam solis is a wireless, portable Wi-Fi hotspot that’s made for travel. The device consists of a small hockey puck-sized device that keeps you connected no matter where you are. You turn it on, and activate a pre-paid Daypass that grants you access to the internet for a full 24 hours.
The device also doubles as a power bank for your devices.
How does Skyroam Solis work?
Skyroamsolis connects to cellular networks in 120 countries, and uses them to provide you with roaming-free, worry-free wireless internet. It works in hotels, cars, and even remote tourist destinations. Pretty much anywhere there’s cellular service, you’ll get internet.
You turn the device on, and it’ll automatically find the best local signal wherever you go, so you don’t have to do the legwork. What makes the magic happen behind the scenes? Skyroam’s patented virtual SIM technology delivers local data, internationally, allowing you to connect to dozens of different cellular networks without changing your SIM card!
How much does Skyroam solis cost?
You can buy the device outright, or rent it for a special trip. As noted previously, you do need to purchase and activate day passes to use it.
Renting the Skyroam device costs about $10USD per day, plus day passes .
Buying a Skyroam costs $149 USD.
There’s a travel case for the device too, which is handy and keeps it protected, but it’s an additional $19USD
How much data? Wi-Fi is unlimited!
Daypasses cost about $9 per day or $99 per month. Whichever package you choose you get unlimited Wi-Fi for the day.
You can use Skyroam on a locked or unlocked smartphone.
How to set up Skyroam Solis… in theory
You can connect up to 5 devices to a single Skyroam. That should be more than enough use for even small families. But here’s where I experienced days of frustration with my Skyroam Solis experience.
If you’re having trouble with your Skyroam device, I hope these detailed instructions can help.
If you want to skip this portion of the review, head down to “Using Skyroam – when it works, it’s amazing!” For more info on how it functions on the road.
Trouble with Skyroam
Ahead of a trip to California from Canada last November, I read through the instructions and thought everything seemed straightforward.
The instructions included in the package read, “Register your hotspot. Open a.skyroam.com on your gadget connected to Skyroam’s Wi-Fi network or scan the QR code provided on the bottom of your hotspot. Follow the provided steps to register using email phone number or Facebook.”
Next, “Start a Daypass. Press the Wi-Fi On button to activate a 24-hour day pass and get oneline. The light on the Wi-Fi On button turns on when service is active and turns off when it expires. See service time remaining at a.skyroam.com “.
Upon arriving, I attempted to activate the Skyroam Solis and what when things went off the rails, since I was unable to get the device working on that entire 12 day trip to the USA. I think this is because the instructions inside the package are quite misleading. And there’s no help on Skyroam’s website.
You power the device on by pushing the small tall, narrow button on the side of the device. It’s easy to miss since it’s beside another giant button with a Wi-Fi symbol on top. Push and hold this button for about 4 seconds and it will vibrate once, the light on the button will turn green and the Wi-Fi symbol will illuminate. Several times during the startup process the light began to flash after a few seconds, but I was unclear what it meant.
Ideally, once the Wi-Fi is on you’ll go to your phone’s Wi-Fi settings, then select the Skyroam device using its unique serial number printed on the bottom of the Solis, and input the password which is also printed on the bottom of the device.
Except when I tried to connect nothing happened. That’s because you now need to go online and activate your day pass.
You should next go online to a.Skyroam.com and log in to your account, but during our USA trip I tried this numerous times on three different smartphones and a laptop and it did not seem to connect. I’d get “page loading” or “connection timeout” errors. The page would sometimes display a loading message that showed it was 100% loaded, but again nothing would happen.
I reached out to Skyroam’s customer service via e-mail, since there is no helpline. Getting responses back took hours, that then stretched into days as we went back and forth.
The customer service reps repeatedly told me just to “log in” but I was getting no login page.
After numerous attempts at trial and error, once I got home and had more time to troubleshoot myself, I realized that if I force-refreshed my Firefox browser window on my MacBook Pro, or on my browser on my Apple iPhone it would eventually get me somewhere where I could log in using my email address and password.
Sometimes the page would get stuck on the “loading” page. Other times It would log me in but wouldn’t give me the option to activate a daypass; the screen would just show blank lines. Continuing to refresh the browser window seemed to do the trick, but it often took several minutes.
As an aside, I don’t read other reviews of a product before I do my own. I don’t want anything to colour my personal experience. After I finished my Skyroam review, I went online to Amazon and read through the customer reviews. Many, many users have these same problems. I do hope Skyroam can create a software update that works out the kinks.Because there are definitely kinks!
Test Skyroam BEFORE you depart!
So if you want Skyroam to work, here’s the step-by-step guide.
How to get Skyroam to work
My best advice for using this device is to register and get logged in, and test the device BEFORE you depart on a trip. I can’t underline this enough. That’s because trying to get help from Skyroam while traveling and in different time zones is frustrating. There’s no phone number to call and you need to rely on them checking customer service emails which is painfully slow.
- Register your device and/or log into your account at https://bsp.skyroam.com/ehall/
- Turn the Skyroam on using the power button on the side of the device. You’ll need to hold it for about 3-4 seconds. The tiny light on it should turn green. (If it turns red, that means the battery is low. Plug it in using the cable provided by Skyroam)
- Wait for the Wi-Fi On light (the large round button on top of the device) to stop flashing.
- On your phone, laptop or tablet, go to your device’s Wi-Fi settings menu, and select your Skyroam device as your Wi-Fi option.
- On that same device, go to a.skyroam.com and log into your account.
If the page doesn’t refresh or update, force refresh the web page on your laptop or smartphone’s web browser after a couple minutes. It may take a dozen attempts and several minutes to connect. In my experience this was not unusual. Frustrating, but not unusual.
- Go to Status along the bottom of the screen. Click it and it’ll flip you another screen. You should now have the option to Start a Daypass. If not, refresh again.
Not connecting? Check that the phone or device you’re trying to connect on is connected to Skyroam in your Wi-Fi settings.
Really not connecting? Here’s how to do a hard reset of Skyroam: push and hold the power button for 8 seconds
Power button flashing red? Your battery is low. Charge the device for 3-5 hours to get a full charge.
Refreshing your browser window and still can’t get connected to Skyroam’s website or your account? Try deleting your browser history then reloading the page. That worked for me on one recent attempt. You can also try clearing your cookies.
What do Skyroam lights mean?
If the Wi-Fi On button is flashing, it means the device is not connected.
If the light stays solid, that mean’s it’s connected.
Power button flashing red? Your battery is low. Charge the device for 3-5 hours to get a full charge.
How to activate Skyroam day passes
If you’ve purchased a package of daypasses, you can view their status in Status at a.skyroam.com. You can also purchase more day passes here if you need them. You can see how many hours are left in your day pass and what your network strength is too.
Skyroam customer support
Initially I tried to troubleshoot the problems on Skyroam’s website but the help and support sections are maddeningly basic. There’s not even a section of the website that could tell me what the flashing wifi lights meant. There’s also not an easy to find helpline phone number. When I did find a number, it was a non-toll free office number with Monday to Friday 9:30-5 business hours. Not helpful for a traveller on the move in time zones across the globe.
I must say the customer service support is not great with Skyroam. It’s not that they wouldn’t help me it’s just that they couldn’t help me over e-mail. The time delays, and the back and forth was pure frustration. Additionally, I didn’t get any step by step instructions that were helpful to me.
The reasons provided to me were that perhaps my account was not “verified” and that the device possibly needed to be “reset” on Skyroam’s end, which they did. Then mysteriously once I got home and tried to connect, it finally worked.
Either way, I was unable to use the Skyroam Solis on my first trip.
After getting things arranged at home, I brought it on another longer trip to Europe.
This time my experience was much better.
Skyroam helpline and Customer Service
If you need this info, here it is, since it was not easy to find.
For telephone support: 1-855-755-7626
Using Skyroam – when it works, it’s amazing!
Having created my own How-to manual for the Skyroam Solis, I was ready the second time around.
I took it on a day trip from Madrid into the Spanish countryside to visit the royal palace San Lorenzo El Escorial about an hour’s drive from Madrid.
We didn’t have any cellar service on our Canadian cell phones since roaming charges can be extremely high, so this was our first test of the alternative.
I got the device connected after a few minutes of refreshing my web browser page at a.skyroam.com and turned on a daypass. I tested my phone’s ability to connect to Google maps and it worked great.
We used the Skyroam to provide Wi-Fi for mapping us during the one hour drive, then used it to connect to the web and look up facts and guidebook info about our destination. It was so handy to have.
Does Skyroam work on an Airplane or cruise ship?
Skyroam’s global WiFi service will not work while in-flight on airplanes, where the only available option is satellite technology. Skyroam operates on mobile data with connectivity available while on the ground and near land. Same goes for cruise ships; Skyroam tells me while you can use it close to ports and near land where it might be able to pick up a cell signal, you won’t get a connection out at sea.
Get iMessages, emails, social feeds and map data
Of course, we were also able to get iMessages, emails and social media alerts too, which meant we could stay connected, and share our trip. For anyone who’s gone traveling and had to rely on free bar or restaurant Wi-Fi, you know what being out of touch is like— it sucks! With Skyroam Solis we had the luxury of unlimited Wi-Fi all day and all night.
We used the Solis again on another four day jaunt into the Spanish countryside. It was our lifeline for mapping extremely confusing small town roadways where the streets are barely wide enough for a Mini Cooper. It provided us with the ability to double check our hotel address on the confirmation e-mail, and to access the confirmation number.
We also used it to Priceline a hotel in Marbella, to access TripAdvisor to find a local market in Jerez, and to Yelp a decent restaurant outside the touristy area of Sevilla, Spain.
The Skyroam device meant we didn’t have to go hunting for hotspots; we WERE the hotspot, and it saved us time, trouble and frustration while travelling through Spain.
The device is small and light and it was no trouble to carry it in my small handbag daily.
Skyroam battery life
The battery life on Skyroam Solis is amazing. During my tests it lasted easily 12 hours. One day I turned it on at at noon and when I went to turn it off after midnight it was still going strong. Of course you can recharge it by connecting it to wall power, or a power bank if you’re running low. You can check the device’s battery level at any time by going to a.skyroam.com
I’m definitely not an expert on network security. I don’t know anything about it, nor am I qualified to make pronouncements about whether the device is safe and secure. I read this blog by Kiled Jian who’s been evaluating the device and at his last writing, he seemed to indicated the device is not encrypted.
So perhaps stick to mapping and don’t try to log into your bank.
Is Skyroam worth it?
Data roaming rates in Canada can cost up from $5 – $12CAD per day depending on your carrier and destination… about the same as using a Skyroam Daypass. BUT… data usage while abroad for us was extremely limited and throttled to a total of 100mb per day. 100mb will get you about four hours of basic web browsing, without downloading pictures and videos. That ears you only about one hour of real time navigation using Waze or Google Maps. That’s almost useless.
Is it cheaper to use Skyroam, or roam with my cell carrier?
For about the same price (or a lot less if you buy a monthly pass) you can get reliable, unlimited data wherever you are — and no surprise roaming bill once you get home.
Overall review of Skyroam Solis Wi-Fi hotspot
Once I got the Skyroam Solis working, it was outstanding, and made our extended trip so much more enjoyable. We were able to stay connected to our work, to family, via social media when we wanted to, and we were able to find our way around easily using Google maps. The Skyroam Solis came in handy more times than I can count.
I can’t underline enough how important it is for you to get the device working before you go on your trip.
Be sure you know how to use the device, test the connection, and if you must, activate a day pass to test it out before you depart. (I asked Skyroam to refund one of my test day passes and they seemed amenable to doing it.)
Trying to learn and use this device for the first time as you’re thundering across the European countryside in a Mini Cooper with locals passing you at 160km/h is not the time to be figuring things out or trying to troubleshoot.
The security issue is a bit concerning, but since I’m not logging into anything important overseas, I’m going to trust that things will be ok. If I get an update to this, I’ll be sure to post.
Overall, I can definitely recommend Skyroam as a reliable, infinitely handy Wi-Fi hotspot device for your next trip abroad.
How to get a Skyroam Wi-Fi hotspot for travel – Skyroam promo code
You can buy a Skyroam for $149USD or rent one all from Skyroam’s website or from Amazon. If you use the code TECHGADGETSCANADA you can get 10% off your purchase on Skyroam’s website – or you can buy from Amazon.
I really enjoyed my Skyroam experience and plan to continue using it, so I’ve activated their affiliate links and Amazon’s here. This means if you purchase a Skyroam by clicking here I get a small commission for referring you. For that I thank you very much for considering purchasing using one of these links as it helps keep the old blog afloat.