A few months back I wrote about a dirt-cheap T-Mobile USB aircard that sold out in mere minutes. I know a lot of readers were frustrated that they didn't get a chance to get one.
Thus I'm happy to offer a Cheapskate exclusive: the refurbished TruConnect USB Card 3G modem for $29.99, plus $5.99 for shipping. It sells new for $79.
Not to be confused with TruConnect's MiFi, which I've written about before, the USB Card is designed to plug into a laptop for on-the-go mobile broadband. You can share that broadband with other devices, but you'll need a mobile-hot-spot utility like Connectify or Virtual WiFi Router.
What's unique about TruConnect's service, aside from the fact that it requires no contract, is that it's truly pay-as-you-go. There's a monthly charge of $4.99 to keep your account active, but from there you pay only 3.9 cents per megabyte of data used.
Obviously this isn't the right service for anyone looking to, say, stream music or movies. That kind of data consumption would lead to some hefty bills. But for everyday stuff like e-mail and Web browsing, you should be able to operate for a lot less than what you'd pay the likes of AT&T or Verizon.
According to a TruConnect rep, its users consume an average of 300MB per month, which works out to just under $12. Of course, because the meter's running, you'll want to make sure to temporarily disable automatic updates, cloud backup services, and other tools that might suck up excessive data in the background. That's the hassle side of using a device like this -- but I think it's a pretty minor one.
As with any aircard, you'll want to check the coverage map before buying. (TruConnect taps Sprint's nationwide network.)
The USB Card comes with a one-year warranty, same as new units. It's compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, and it has a built-in microSD slot for reading memory cards.
All told, this is one of the best deals I've seen on a mobile 3G modem, especially one that doesn't soak you $50 per month (or more) for two years.