MiFi Hotspot

Verizon is now the first carrier to launch Novatel’s MiFi personal hotspot gadget, and there’s no subscription required.

Yes, if you want to, you can pay $99.99 for the hotspot and $59.99 a month for 5GB of data. But to me, the killer combination for occasional travelers is $269.99 for the device and $15 for an unlimited use ‘day pass’ – no commitment required. There’s also a 250MB plan for $39.99/month.

The MiFi is a Wi-Fi router with a twist: it’s battery powered and has a cellular modem built in. So just turn it on anywhere Verizon has a signal, and pow, you’re broadcasting Wi-Fi to up to five PCs. The battery lasts for about four hours of use and 40 hours of standby on a charge, according to Verizon Wireless. And the MiFi is pretty tiny: only 3.5″ x 2.3″ x .4″ and 2.05 oz.

All five computers will share one EVDO Rev A connection, so you’ll be splitting about a megabit down and 500 kilobits up between whomever’s on the hotspot. And they’ll all contribute to filling the monthly data quota. But still, this makes getting online with Verizon’s network easier than ever.

 When originally announced last December, Novatel pointed out that the router is actually a tiny Linux PC, capable of running its own software. The router could check e-mail and store messages on a memory card without a PC, in theory. But Verizon’s version looks like it’s just a Wi-Fi router – for now, at least.

The MiFi will go on sale May 17. This post originally appeared on Gearlog.

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