I previously discussed the MiFi and similar 3G-to-wireless-router devices as a possible way of “retrofitting” Kindle-like 3G download-anywhere connectivity to e-book devices (not to mention iPads, laptops, and so on).
From GearLog comes news that prepaid cellular company Virgin Mobile will shortly be releasing a $149 MiFi router that will work on prepaid principles (much like the 3G service available for the iPad through AT&T). Buy the device, then pay for bandwidth if and as you need it. (An $80 USB modem is already available for using the service with laptops.)
The $149 price compares favorably to the price difference for adding 3G to an iPad—true, it’s $20 more, but you can use it with any device you have and not just the non-tetherable iPad. Of course, it’s a lot more than the $50 value that Barnes & Noble assigns to its Nook’s unlimited 3G connection, but you can do even less with that connection than you can with the iPad’s.
The bandwidth plans range from $10 for a 10-day, 100-megabyte plan, up through $60 for 5 gigabytes of bandwidth that expire in 30 days. Save for the $60 plan, these plans are a bit pricier than the iPad’s 250-meg for $15, 2 gig for $25 plans.
At the high end, Virgin’s $60 for 5 gigs works out to slightly less per gig than Apple’s $25 for 2 gigs—assuming you use that much bandwidth in a month. (And it’s the same amount Verizon charges for its contract-required MiFi 3G—and in fact, the $20 for 300 megabyte plan is half the amount Verizon charges for 250 megabytes per month.) But again, this is a plan that will work with any and all wifi devices you have, not just an iPad, so the extra outlay might well be worth it.