Introduced at CES 2010, the Sprint Overdrive is a mobile wireless router much like the MiFi, except that it's capable of both 3G and 4G speeds. It works on Sprint's WiMax network and allows you to connect up to five devices at a time. The only drawback is that Sprint's 4G network is limited at this time, so not everyone is going to enjoy the broadband-like speeds. That said, Sprint has plans to expand its 4G coverage to reach 120 million people by the end of the year and you still get 3G support. The Sprint Overdrive worked well during our tests and proved to be an invaluable tool during a recent business trip. It's a great way for road warriors to stay connected on the go while getting some of the fastest speeds out there from a mobile wireless router. The Sprint Overdrive costs $100 after a $50 mail-in rebate, and requires a two-year service contract for Sprint's 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Connection Plan, which costs $59.99 per month.
The Overdrive, which is manufactured by Sierra Wireless, measures 3.14 inches tall by 3.14 inches wide by 0.61 inch thick and weighs 4.51 ounces; it's not quite as travel-friendly as the MiFi or USB sticks, but it can easily be thrown into a bag. On front, you'll find a power button and an LCD display the size of a stamp that shows you signal strength, battery life, and connectivity. There's a mute button on top, and the bottom of the device has a Micro-USB port and a microSD card slot, which can be used for shared network storage (up to 16GB) for up to five devices. You'll have to provide your own microSD card, however, as only a charger, a USB cable, and reference materials are included the box.
There is no installation CD or desktop software, so all you have to do to get started is power up the Overdrive. Once on, simply search for the Overdrive in your available wireless networks and use the provided passcode on the modem's LCD to complete the connection. There isn't a desktop client, but you can point your browser to http://overdrive/ to see your data usage as well as enable GPS, map your location (via Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing, or Yahoo), install updates, and more. The Web client is easy to understand and use, and it works in a number of browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari. It's compatible with both Windows (XP, Vista, and 7) and Mac (OS X 10.4 or higher).