Sunday, May 17, 2009

The value of 24/7 wireless, as shown by MiFi 2200

UPDATE - 5/17/09 is at the bottom of this article.
  Original posting: 5/12/2009 08:00:00 AM

The New York Times's David Pogue is excited by "Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed" though I have a memory of Pogue finding the Kindle 2 pricing unfathomably high (his editors had omitted the price), but that paragraph is gone and the price is there now.

That article explained the outstanding Kindle feature (wireless 24/7) and the cost of this normally.
'The big Kindle breakthrough was its wireless connection. Thanks to Sprint’s cellular Internet service, the Kindle is always online: indoors, outdoors, miles from the nearest Wi-Fi hot spot.

This sort of service costs $60 a month for laptops, but Amazon pays the Kindle’s wireless bill, in hopes that you’ll buy e-books spontaneously...

As a bonus, the Kindle includes a simple Web browser, great for quick wireless Wikipedia checks and blog reading.'
That $60/mo. x 12 = $720! Not much mystery in the pricing, on a unit with the expensive e-ink screen.

Pogue really knows the Kindle's features, unlike most columnists covering a wide range of gadgets.

With the article on Novatel's MiFi 2200 'Personal Hot Spot,' he sings a strong tenor on the amazing ability of this small gadget to provide cell phone style wireless wherever you are.
'But imagine if you could get online anywhere you liked — in a taxi, on the beach, in a hotel with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi —without messing around with cellular modems. What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go?'
Kindle users don't have to imagine that.  I use the Kindle to go online to read sites like Wired (with excellent photo reproduction) anywhere I happen to be.  But I've described that in previous posts.  Pogue continues:
Incredibly, there is such a thing.  It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after rebate). It’s a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card... When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot.
The Mifi uses Verizon's 3G for its signal.  Pogue writes:
'If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that)... And if you don’t travel incessantly, the best deal may be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it.
  In that case, the MiFi itself costs $270 [rather than $100].
So that's another illustration of the often ignored value of the wireless feature of the Kindles.  There should be huge interest in the MiFi, because it also has a 30-foot range and up to 5 people can share this "Wi-Fi umbrella."

  The drawback of netbooks for me is the lack of wireless, but this will be a big help here, with the minimum $40/mo being more attractive than AT&T's program of wireless for netbooks, which starts at $50/mo. and is probably most useful at the $60/mo. level, and the Mifi unit can be used with any of your devices, including cellphones, the iPod touch, as well as the usual laptops.

  Be sure to read Pogue's full details and entertaining descriptions on this, and there's a video demo there.

Update - 5/17/09: The MiFi unit is being released Sunday.  Gizmodo wrote today that the $40/mo. wireless plan was "useless" and EVDOinfo writes, after their thorough review (including cons):
"...$40/mo plan that offers 250MB allowance, but only those who access the internet very infrequently should consider that option as 250MB is typically used up by most customers in less than a week of normal internet usage...
and JK On the Run's long review and replies to commenters says he already has the $60 Verizon plan.  Wireless and Mobile Reviews reviews the many reviews and it's a set of raves. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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