What are the advantages of getting a mobile hotspot---such as the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L---over simply using the hotspot feature of a tablet (such as the Samsung Galaxy 7.7" or a Motorola Xyboard 8.2") or smartphone (such as the Samsung Stratosphere)?
More specifically, is the reception better? For example, in an area of marginal data signal strength, would the mobile hotspot be more likely (as a sort of specialized device) to get a usable signal than would a mobile-hotspot-enabled tablet or smartphone?
i would think it would depend on the radio of the device you be using. for example, some phones have better radios than others. a motorolla may get a better signal than a particular samsung (this is just an example so samsung fans need not throw a fit) in the exact same area. one advantage is that i "think" there are certain things you can do while you are using your phone as a hotspot. i may be wrong, but for some reason i thought you couldn't make calls or something while using it as a hotspot.....but i really don't know.
You can leave the mobile hotspot at home, connected to the internet, for other people to use while you are gone with your phone. On the other hand, if you have the hotspot feature on your phone, you can use it to connect your laptop or tablet while traveling, etc.
Mobile Hotspot devices like the MiFi products are likely to be more configurable than the hotspot features you are provided with by your smart phone/tablet.
Probabally the biggest difference is that a MiFi can support more devices than your smart device. Another example would be purchasing a larger battery for a MiFi. Running a hotspot feature on your phone will drain your phone battery quicker. Haveing a MiFi may extend your battery life and connection sessions simply because the connected devices and mifi do not rely on each other for power. As AZ mentioned, performance will boil down to the hardware/radios that have been installed. More powerful equiptment will always perform better.
In reality they both do the same thing, provide you and others a connection to the internet that you can bring where ever you go.