Recently I was in a hotel room checking something online with my laptop when my teenaged son noted the unfairness of the situation. We had two laptops (one PC and one Mac) plus an iTouch and iPad in the room. (Yes, I know that sounds like Geek Family Vacation!) But because the hotel charged for in-room Internet access, I was the only one with Internet access via my Sprint mobile broadband card. "Yes, son life is unfair, and, no, you cannot use Dad's business computer to surf the web."
Soon after I went to a meeting with some of the members of the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section. The meeting room had no Internet access, but I did with my Sprint card. Then Tom Mighell pulled out his MyFi device and began granting Internet access to others in the room. The MyFi generates a small wireless cloud so up to five people can use the device for online access. I'd been lusting after this device ever since David Pogue's original mention of the device last year. Fresh from hotel room discussions with my son about what a cheapskate I was, I mentioned to Tom that I just might have to switch providers and get a MyFi. Tom said that Sprint had a similar device now.
So, of course, when I returned home I contacted my local Sprint store. The gentleman there informed me of the Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile HotSpot. Sprint doesn't have 4G in Oklahoma City yet, but still I could upgrade from the card that plugged into my USB port for Internet access to generating my own personal wireless cloud for up to five users. Since the iPad doesn't have a USB port, it is WiFi only.
There are lots of business uses for this. Lawyers could use this to set up Internet access for a litigation "war room" on the road and, assuming it is not a problem with the judge, you could have Internet access for your team in the courtroom. Not all WiFi clouds are created equal. With mine, I am confident of security.
The prices online varied around the mid-$300 to mid-$400 range. I steeled myself as the Sprint rep looked up my account information. If I would sign a new two year contract with Sprint, the price (on my business account) would be—-free! For other accounts, it would have been a bit more expensive, but affordable. So now I'm a cheapskate with a portable WiFi cloud! The monthly charges are the same and I am waiting for 4G service to come here.
There are some trade-offs. The device gets a bit warm for carrying around in your pocket in the summer and when you charge the battery, it yields several hours of life rather than days. But since it generates a cloud, you can plug it into a wall outlet across the room to charge as you use it, or into your computer's USB port.