Reddit, otherwise known by its self adorned (and well earned) title, "the front page of the internet". For those of you unfamiliar with Reddit, put simply, it is gargantuan collection of forums that allows people to share content (pictures, videos, news, reviews, etc.) and then allows other users to interact with the content by liking and/or commenting on it.
According to Statista.com, from the period of February to October 2018, roughly 1.6 billion unique users had accessed the site. With the sheer volume of people visiting the site on a monthly basis, as well as the tendency for Reddit to be accommodating of free thought in user content, it's no surprise that this combination allows for countless numbers of reviews for virtually any product or service you can think of. This includes Pocket WiFi rental reviews as well.
Do a quick search on the Reddit home page for "Pocket WiFi" and you will generate a list of results so long, that would take you about a week to read through it.
Since many people (including myself) use Reddit as a genuine form of product/ service review and/or advice, I thought it might be beneficial to break down the actually usefulness of the information on Reddit in regard to Pocket WiFi rental. To see if it can actually help you make an informed decision.
People on Reddit are mostly positive about renting Pocket WiFi
After reading through about 40 of them, a common theme among threads started to appear. Most people were vehemently defending the benefits of having a form of stable mobile internet (like Pocket WiFi), while here in Japan.
Here's an example. This is a Reddit user's post asking for some advice about whether or not to rent a Pocket WiFi device for their honeymoon. Take a look at the barrage of comments on the efficacy of Pocket WiFi from fellow users.
This post followed the trend I saw in a lot of similar posts, of people generally agreeing that in a country as foreign as Japan, it is very helpful to have access to the internet via Pocket WiFi. Based solely on the fact that Japan has one of the largest and most complex transit systems in the world, a lot of users made the point (and a good one at that), that this alone makes renting a Pocket WiFi worth it.
Another common point, aside from navigation, was being able to use translation application software. Translation apps have truly revolutionized travel in many ways. But the catch is, most of the time you need internet to use them! This was one of the other reasons Reddit users stated was a top reason for renting a Pocket WiFi unit.
Problems I found
Good, so we have established the general consensus among Reddit users that using Pocket WiFi can be an asset to your stay here in Japan. But how do the threads on information or reviews on Pocket WiFi stack up? I've broken the problems down into three main subsections. Let's take a look!
Let's look at one of the many threads I found on Reddit for reference. This one was titled "Pocket Wi-Fi in Japan" on the /r/JapanTravel subreddit page.
Right off the bat, I'm not impressed by the recentness of the information provided here. It says the last revision was one year ago. When looking at information about rental services it's important to have recent information. This is because the provider could change any details of their rental plans, including data allowance and price (rates). Because these pivotal terms of the rental plans can be changed at any given moment by the providers, the older the information is, the less reliable it is.
Lack of Details
The second big issue I found with most of the threads was a lack of details. There is no comprehensive explanation of each rental plan on any of the Reddit forums.
What do I mean by comprehensive? Well, a rental plan consists of many more factors than just its base price (rate) and data allowance. A comprehensive review of Pocket WiFi should contain multiple factors including the first two but extending to encompass others such as internet speed, shipping fees, accessibility, and coverage, just to name a few. For example, depending on your expected data use, the type of plan you need to purchase will differ. Or, depending on the where you arrive in Japan, certain companies may not be able to deliver your Pocket WiFi router to your desired location.
The point is, it is very important to consider all of these factors when making a decision to rent a wireless router unit and in these Reddit articles, this information is nowhere to be found.
Lack of Credibility
None of the threads I read like this one, claiming to be quality information, had actually rented from all the companies they compared. This is the real downside to posts like this one. It's just information gathered from various places on the internet and thrown together. Something anyone can do with enough time and a keyboard. Comparing the actual experience of renting from the companies is where the true credibility lies.
Takeaways From My Reddit Research
Most of the articles and data I came across on Reddit had these same underlying issues
- Outdated information (1 to 2 years old)
- Vague details (how user friendly the website is, what the pickup options are, internet speed?)
- Lack of the actual rental experiences (the author did not rent from multiple providers to compare)
Now I am not trying to knock Reddit, there is a wealth of valuable information on the website that can help on a range of topics. The issue here as that, when it comes to a purchase as important as ensuring you have the WiFi you need during your stay in Japan, it's better to have reliable information. Like verified reviews and recently updated prices/info.
This is where eConnect Japan sets itself apart from Reddit in a sense. Not only does our website have over 2000 verified reviews by actual customers, but it also has an in-depth explanation of the different plans offered for Pocket WiFi rental.
Also, eConnect Japan has a dedicated blog platform that discusses a wide range of topics surrounding Pocket WiFi and specifically, Japan.
Now I don't plan on stopping my Reddit usage anytime soon, but when I'm thinking of purchasing something as important as my connection to the outside world during vacation, I like to know that the information I am getting is current, detailed, and reliable.