TruConnect offers cheap, mobile pay-as-you-go wifi: just the thing for downloading e-books

TruConnect_MiFi_2200_270x172Looking for a great, cheap way to download e-books when you can’t get a wi-fi signal, even if you don’t have a free-3G-enabled e-reader? TruConnect Mobile might just have you covered.

Last year I wrote about retrofitting 3G to wifi-enabled devices (such as e-readers) by use of a mobile hotspot such as a MiFi. Now Rick Broida’s latest “The Cheapskate” column on CNet points out what might be the best deal yet for such a device: $96 for the MiFi plus shipping, then $4.99 per month plus 3.9 cents per megabyte for service. The fee is charged only for months during which you actually use the device—if you leave it in a closet all summer, you don’t pay a thing.

The benefit of a 3G-enabled Kindle or Nook is that you can download e-books anywhere, but the drawback is that you really can’t do much else with that 3G. If you have a tablet that can surf the web, you could pay $100+ more for a 3G-enabled version, but if you want to tether your laptop to it you’re going to end up paying even more.

Now, this isn’t the mobile wifi you want to use if you’re going to download huge files, or stream movies. But e-books are teeny-tiny, and so is the bandwidth you would use from surfing the web or checking e-mail.

TruConnect Mobile’s MiFi deal tempts me in ways I have not been tempted by a MiFi device before. For the people who just hate being out of touch but can wait ‘til they get home to download huge files, it could be the best mobile wi-fi deal ever.

8 Comments on TruConnect offers cheap, mobile pay-as-you-go wifi: just the thing for downloading e-books

  1. If you’ve got an Android mobile phone it may already be able to act as a MiFi hotspot. I think iPhones can also do this. Depends on your carrier though.

  2. It surely beats the high cost of the WiFi dongles available through Verizon. I just spent a vacation in an internet-empty location, and it would have been nice to be able to hook my laptop or Nook to WiFi… but the cost of the device, and monthly Verizon charges, make it a ridiculous option for a few weeks out of the year’s use.

  3. If you compare this “deal” with AT&T’s data plan for the 3G iPad ($15 for 250 Mb/mo), you’ll not see but a few cents difference. If you have a WiFi only iPad or iPod touch, this might be an attractive option.

  4. Or a laptop, or any other wifi-capable device. I don’t think those iPad plans allow tethering, do they? Furthermore, if you don’t use all 250 megabytes in a month on the MiFi plan you save money over the iPad plan.

  5. Reply to ChrisMeadows :
    The iPad data plans offered by AT&T differ from those offered to laptop owners in that they are unencumbered by multi-year contracts. All of the Cellular options for laptops that I’ve looked at require a contract. This is a significant difference for me since I am usually within range of WiFi at home or at work. On a recent 10 day vacation where I knew that WiFi would’t be available, I signed up for one month of AT&T wireless data for $15 (250 MB/mo). My wife and I managed to use 99% of that in 10 days so that worked out well for us. Next time I’ll sign up for 2 GB/mo at $25 in order to avoid having to be so mindful of bandwidth usage. This is a great deal for those who have a 3G-capable iPad. OTOH, if you don’t have a 3G iPad and live within an AT&T service area, the TruConnect offering is quite attractive and comparable to the AT&T offer in all important respects.

    Rumor has it that Apple will soon introduce mobile devices with a “world phone” cellular chip set and a method that enables switching from one carrier to the next. If this comes to pass, then carrier-specific devices will loose a lot of value.

    As for tethering, you are correct in saying that the AT&T data plans for iPad do not allow that. However, they do offer iPhone plans that allow tethering at extra cost. I believe that Sprint is now the only carrier that doesn’t charge extra for tethering.

  6. The $96 price for the TruConnect MiFi in this article includes shipping.

    As stated above TruConnect is made for people who are “casual” mobile broadband users. Almost always you are on a home or office WiFi network, but the times when you’re not and mobile Internet would be very useful is the time for TruConnect. The other main reason for TruConnect is for WiFi only iPad users who want mobile broadband.

    And since the TruConnect plan is contract-free and flexible you can use it when you need it and have it for peace of mind when you don’t.

  7. Sandra Richards // June 22, 2012 at 9:47 am //

    To TruConnect; you say it’s contract free but isn’t there a cost even just using for 5kbs every other month, than a charge to add additional minutes later?

    It would be fine for someone who uses the internet once in a GREAT while but I doubt there is that many. So, we must tell the whole story and give the bottom line even when everyone is different.

  8. I did mention all of those things in the second paragraph of the story. Yes, if you just use 5 kb in a month, you pay $5 for that month. Then you pay 3.9 cents per megabyte. Yes, this would be most helpful for people who only need to use it rarely, but even for people who use mobile Internet regularly but don’t use it enough to get benefit out of those $50 a month contract plans mobile companies offer for their high-bandwidth MiFis, this is a much better deal.

    Of course, now the new no-monthly-fee prepaid plan Wal-Mart is offering would be an even better deal, but that wasn’t around at the time I wrote this.

    And either way, there’s no contract, so you can use it just as long as you want and then stop with no penalty. You don’t get charged through the nose for breaking a contract.

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