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Get a Virgin Mobile Prepaid 3G Modem for $78.54

Originally twice the price, this USB modem provides Sprint-powered 3G service for your laptop--no contract or monthly minimum required.

Plug the Broadband2Go into your laptop and presto: broadband to go! No pesky contracts or monthly minimums, either.
Plug the Broadband2Go into your laptop and presto: broadband to go! No pesky contracts or monthly minimums, either.
Virgin Mobile

One of my all-time favorite products is also one of the most underrated and overlooked. It's the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go Ovation MC760, a 3G broadband modem for laptops. It originally sold for $149.99, but now you can get one for just $78.54 shipped (plus sales tax in some states).

What separates the MC760 from other "aircard" modems? The biggie: it requires no two-year contract (no contract at all, in fact) and no monthly minimum. You pay for airtime as you need it.

That's a huge plus over modems from the likes of Sprint and Verizon, which typically lock you into two-year contracts at $60/month. (FYI, Virgin Mobile is actually part of Sprint, and uses the company's 3G network.)

Virgin offers two plans. For $10, you get 100MB of data that you can use over 10 days. That's not much, I admit, but it's fine if you just need to check e-mail and hit a few Web sites while traveling.

For $40, you get unlimited data for a full month. Again, that's about $20 less than the competition charges, and you pay only when you need service--not every month for two years, mandatory. Oh, and Virgin's unlimited plan is actually unlimited, not "unlimited-with-a-5GB-cap" like with the other carriers.

I own one of these babies, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Great gift item, too.

On the other hand, if you really want to treat yourself (or someone you love), grab the Broadband2Go MiFi 2200. Instead of plugging into a USB port and providing service for just your laptop, it's a standalone 3G modem that sets up an instant Wi-Fi hotspot--for up to five devices.

It's not on sale, but at $149.88 (again with no contracts or monthly minimums), I still think it's a steal compared with the Sprint and Verizon MiFis.

One last thing: you can turn the MC760 into a poor man's MiFi by pairing it with the CradlePoint PHS300, as I described earlier this year over at Business Hacks. The actual MiFi is cheaper, but I still love workaround solutions like this.

Bonus deal: a 1TB external hard drive for 60 bucks is hardly a big deal anymore. But a 1TB NAS drive? That's pretty smokin'. Today only, woot.sellout has the refurbished Iomega 1TB Home Media Network Storage drive for $59.99 (plus $5 for shipping).