Virgin Mobile Mi-Fi
Not convinced that I could cope with gaps in access to the internet, I purchased a portable Mi-Fi device from Virgin Mobile. This works on Sprint’s 3G network and connects up to five devices to the internet via Wi-Fi. My wife and I have used the Mi-Fi on a journey in my car, in a hotel where the hotel Wi-Fi was slow and all around the house, and yard - I’ve been very impressed.
The internet service is unlimited and costs $40 a month, again on a monthly contract. The Mi-Fi has a battery that last between 3-5 hours when not connected to an electric outlet or car socket, which means I can put it in my shirt pocket, and use it unconnected.
Early experience suggests that I don’t need to fill the internet gaps thought I could not cope with - in fact I’m enjoying not being such a big nerd, and use the break to read my Kindle books on my iPad when I get the chance instead of manic email and Internet.
But I so like my Mi-Fi that I’m keeping it for those trips and as a home backup, maybe even to be our home Internet. Two local friends were so impressed with the Virgin Mobile Mi-Fi and the associated service, that they ditched their current Internet providers (AT&T and Verizon) and are financially and experientially delighted.
As an experiment, for more than a week I used the Virgin Mobile as the home router, and found it worked very well in this role. I speed test it at between 1038 and 1113 Kbits/s download, and 246 Kbits/s upload, which I’m told is equivalent to a DSL connection.
It certainly works well using Internet and email - clearly downloading software updates, and publishing big websites was noticeably slower that my $62 per month Verizon FIOS. Having said that, we streamed Netflix movies, and happily worked our computers, iPads and iPhones (my wife), barely noticing the difference. The O’Reilly home jury is still considering ditching Verizon FIOS!
What’s not so “smart” about Apple’s iPhone is its operational cost, carrier and compromises. Like a Swiss army knife, the iPhone is good at a lot of things, but not really great at any:
- iPhone - $82 per month/2 year contract/upgrade contract treadmill
- Google Voice - free phone number/free US & cheap international calls
- iPad - $499 for the more than adequate Wi-Fi only model (already owned)
- Virgin Mi-Fi - $149 for the device; $40 pm for the service
- Potentially displace home Internet service - $62 per month
- Contracts entrapment - no contracts & not tied up for two years with early exit penalty
- Being less of a Nerd and reading more - Priceless
Rethinking the iPhone
All irrelevant if you live outside the US
My initial outlay was a bit of a shock, but I just bought my iPhone outright, and got a cheapy contract with excellent coverage. The overall cost is less than going for one of the subsidised deals, certainly less than a load of unintegrated gadgets, and I'm not locked into any long-term contract.
So wait, you're advocating replacing one device that does everything with.... 4?! All so you don't have to be "tied into a contract"? I hope no one pays you for this kind of advice. ROFL
Shame you get raped on the charges...
... as over here £35 a month is pretty much all you need and you can get an iPhone on a great network!
Basically this is another AT&T is crap article isn't it? It's just that as the iPhone exposed that crapness, it seems to get tarred with AT&T's stinky brush.
Were are the non-american-at&t centric articles eh?
In the USA your cell providers really screw you!
I pay so much less per year in the UK and all my minutes are bundled as well as unlimited internet.
I bought an unlocked Android Nexus One when they were released and that has now allowed me to negotiate my contract down further, from good to silly good.
Personally I think you are perhaps missing a trick not using your cell phone as a mifi point, my Android does it comfortably. even if it is slightly against the terms of service to use a phone teathered I figure the little I do it won't hurt.
Still, I feel sorry that you are being so screwed. When I renegotiated my contract they said I was a high-tier customer, so I could have any phone for nothing *and* I pay half your rental for a passable service.
My sympathies to our American cousins.