2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: Built-in Wi-Fi Hotspot
May 23, 2014
As we saw in our last episode, the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen system in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel expands to support many additional features by simply registering for an account and enabling Uconnect Access Advantage. It's all free for a one-year trial period ($14.99/mo thereafter) except for one particular item: the Wi-Fi hotspot that provides internet access right there in the truck.
Our Ram is now like a Starbucks without the coffee. I can sit in the cab with my laptop or my low-dollar iPad (the one without 3G) and do useful work or whatever.
Uconnect Wi-Fi costs extra because it's essentially a stand-alone 3G service provided by Sprint. You can buy access by the day ($9.99), week ($19.99) or month ($34.99).
Before you can do that, however, you have to log in to your Uconnect online account at www.moparownerconnect.com via a device that's hooked to an established internet connection so you can set up a payment account with a credit card and select a PIN number. Once that's done you make Wi-Fi data purchases from that online portal or from inside the truck using the touchscreen and your PIN.
I went for the full month, but I can see the appeal of daily or weekly access for those who only need it for specific tasks or road trips. It's not a recurring payment, so I won't have to cancel at the end of the month if I don't like it. It'll simply shut down until I re-up.
Using the touchscreen, I quickly renamed the hotspot from the dry alphanumeric default to "Ram Remote" so others in the office will recognize it when they search for Wi-Fi from their phones or other devices.
I also chose a more memorable password, though I have the option of turning password protection off altogether with a single touch on the truck's touchscreen. I would never do that at home, but it seems safe enough here because a vehicle is almost always moving when it's switched on. It's hard to imagine a local internet opportunist staying in range long enough to hop on and make a connection.
How fast? I'm still working that out. The answer depends on where the truck is parked and the strength of the local service. So far my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts work well enough in my local neighborhood, and my iPad can run Gaia GPS, a particular topographic map app I'm fond of, too.
But it's only 3G, so I don't expect much in the way of streaming video performance.
Time will tell, I suppose. And if I need coffee while I sit parked in this mobile office I can always drive through someplace that doesn't insist on using the word "tall" to describe their smallest cup of Joe.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,567 miles