This is an update of a deal I wrote about last year.
I'm a longtime fan of the Verizon MiFi 2200, a pocket-size 3G modem that doubles as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Just one problem: it
costs $269 and locks you into a two-year contract with Verizon. Service starts at $35 per month (for a mere 3GB of data).
You can accomplish much of the same thing with the CradlePoint PHS300, currently on sale at UnlockedCellPhoneKings via Amazon for $49.99 shipped. The only difference is, it's BYO cell phone or wireless card.
In other words, you have to supply the modem; the PHS300 turns it into a secure Wi-Fi hot spot (for up to 16 users; the MiFi limits you to five). This may sound like more trouble than it's worth, but hear me out.
For starters, this is perfect for users who already have a wireless modem from, say, AT&T, and don't want to buy extra hardware from Verizon, sign on for two years, etc.
Even better, you could pair the PHS300 with Virgin Mobile's awesome Broadband2Go, a pay-as-you-go wireless modem that requires no contracts and has no monthly minimums. That's what I'm doing, and I'm loving every contract-free minute of it.
There are a few caveats, however. First, the PHS300 works only with USB modems, not the PC Card variety. (It can, however, pair with certain phones as well--see the complete list of supported devices on CradlePoint's product page.)
Second, the PHS300 is nowhere near as compact or elegant as the MiFi, and your modem sticks out awkwardly from one end.
As I mentioned, I've been road-testing a PHS300 with Virgin's Broadband2Go, and they've made beautiful mobile-hot-spot music together. Definitely a worthwhile solution for some users.
By the way, the PHS300 earned an average of 4 stars from Amazon customers. It's a fine product, IMHO, and a definite bargain at $49.99.
Bonus deal: This is sure to sell out quick, but I had to share it anyway. Woot has a Sharper Image Literati 7-inch color e-book reader for $49.99, plus $5 for shipping. It's new, not refurbished, and features a color LCD, Wi-Fi, and compatibility with the Kobo e-bookstore.
Bonus deal #2: Like cheap games? I recently did a roundup of five awesome PC games for under $10 each. (A few are available for Mac and/or iOS as well.) Some really great stuff here, including my current tower-defense favorite, Defense Grid: The Awakening.