Hey, want to meet me in person? (I know, it's been a lifelong dream.) I'll be appearing tonight at 7 p.m. at the Ypsilanti District Library (in Ypsilanti, Mich.) for a free presentation on--you guessed it--cheap tech. Specifically, how to save boatloads of money on gadgets, gear, software, and more. I'll be demoing a few products, too. Hope you can make it!
Now, on to business. I'm a longtime fan of the Novatel Wireless MiFi card, a portable Wi-Fi hot spot that serves up 3G Internet to as many as five nearby devices. Just one problem: most carriers lock you into a two-year contract, then charge at least $30 per month.
Virgin Mobile's MiFi is a nice contract-free alternative, though recently Virgin's service rates have gone up while data allotments have gone down. Plus, the card itself is a bit steep at $149.99.
Enter TruConnect Mobile, a new service that leverages the Sprint 3G network. TruConnect offers the Novatel MiFi 2200 for $89.99, plus $5.99 for shipping. That's the lowest price I've ever seen on a MiFi card, by far. But, wait, it gets better.
There's no contract or activation fee required. As for service, you pay $4.99 per month--but only for those months when you actually use the card. From there, TruConnect charges 3.9 cents/megabyte for data. (Note to self: disable automatic Windows updates when using the MiFi.)
How does that translate to real-world dollars? It depends on your usage, of course, but everyday stuff like e-mail and Web browsing consumes surprisingly little data. It's only when you start streaming video from Hulu and Netflix that the megabytes start to add up.
My guess is that if you spent a couple of hours working in, say, a hotel lobby that didn't have Wi-Fi, it would probably cost you no more than a buck or two.
Ultimately, this is the gizmo to choose if you're a casual user, someone who only occasionally finds himself without a Wi-Fi connection. (For example, this summer I had cause to use my MiFi card during several trips--but the rest of the year it pretty much sat on a shelf. Why should I pay for that?)
I haven't had a chance to field-test the TruConnect MiFi myself (the product literally just launched), but I'm assuming it works more or less exactly like Virgin's Sprint-powered version--which is to say, very well.
TruConnect offers a 90-day return policy, with no restocking fee or even return-shipping charge. Beat that with a stick.
Bonus deal: Best Buy has "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" on Blu-ray for $9.99, plus free shipping if you pad your cart to $25. Or, you can skip shipping altogether by picking it up in-store. Either way, sales tax likely applies. This is, without question, the best of the Trek movies, and I'll knock down any man who says different. And by "knock down" I mean "argue with until you've run crying from the room."