Remember back on Monday when I said I was the victim of flaky hotel Wi-Fi? It's true: I couldn't publish my Cheapskate post because my room had a weak, inconsistent signal. It was incredibly frustrating, like trying to work using a dial-up modem.
The smart thing would have been to pack a mobile hot spot. Of course, I don't want to get stuck with a two-year contract and hefty monthly fees for a gizmo I need only occasionally. That's why today's deal is so appealing.
For a limited time, Virgin Mobile has the Overdrive Pro 3G/4G mobile hot spot for $83.99 shipped. That's 30 percent off the regular price and the best deal I've seen on this very compelling gizmo.
Like all Virgin Mobile stuff, the Overdrive Pro requires no contract. You pay for service as needed: $5 per day for 200MB of data, $35 per month for 2GB, or $55 for 5GB. But here's where it gets interesting: those rates are for 3G service on Sprint's network. If you're lucky enough to live or work where there's Sprint WiMax coverage, you'll get unlimited 4G data.
This can be a little confusing, so I invite you to read PC Magazine's review of the Overdrive Pro, which helps clarify some of the details. Incidentally, they rated it four stars out of five.
Once you're connected, the Overdrive Pro can share its 3G/4G goodness (and GPS location services) with up to eight nearby devices. This happens via a secure, password-protected Wi-Fi network. It can also plug into a PC's USB port for direct modem duty, and it has a microSD slot for shared storage. Plus there's that handy (and sexy) LCD status/settings screen.
I haven't tried the Overdrive Pro myself, but it received an average of 4.4 stars out of 5 from about two dozen Virgin customers. Obviously coverage is a big concern, especially if you're hoping for 4G, so do check that map before you pull the trigger.
That said, $84 out the door is a very reasonable price for any mobile hot spot, especially one that's 4G-capable and contract-free. I'm thinking seriously about picking one up before my next trip.
Bonus deal: Calling all college students! If you have a valid .edu (or .ac.uk) e-mail address, you can get AnchorFree's HotSpot Shield VPN free for one year. Normally that subscription would cost you $42. This virtual-private-network software, available for PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad, promises totally secure connectivity when you use public hot spots, like those frequently found on college campuses (and in libraries, coffee shops, and the like). While you're at it, you can sign up to win $50,000 in college scholarships.
Bonus deal No. 2: Like comics? Look! Up in the cloud! For a limited time, Amazon is offering "Superman" No. 1 Kindle Edition for free. You can read it on your PC, a Kindle Fire, or any color tablet that can run the Kindle app. According to a reader, this is the first issue of DC Comics' "Superman reboot" from 1987.
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