Product: Novetel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot, sold by Verizon and Sprint.

Features: This compact, battery-powered WiFi on-the-go provides broadband-speed Internet for up to five devices simultaneously. The range extends about 30 feet.

Price: Both Verizon and Sprint sell it for $99 after two-year service contracts and rebates.

Ups: Not only is this uber convenient, but it can handle some serious data. The Verizon MiFi was able to keep a decent connection while handling an Xbox Live game and a computer streaming YouTube videos. The Sprint MiFi could also easily connect to devices and handle a good amount of data, but when I tried it with Xbox, it had occasional hiccups - of course that could be due to many other factors.

Downs: I thought Verizon's software was a downer. The instructions say you should download this software to your computer to manage your WiFi connections, but it was a waste of time, confusing and unnecessary.

Sprint's MiFi didn't have extra software, but I didn't like how it handled the password. You see, with Verizon you have a complicated access password on the back of the device, making it easy to share with people nearby. Sprint's doesn't. Instead, it has a default password of 54321 and you have to change it yourself to make it more complicated and remember what it is.

Bottom line: This is so handy if you travel often. Who doesn't want to be surrounded by a vortex of Internet wherever you go? But hold your horses if you're about to replace this with your home Internet connection. It could be done, but it depends on your wired lifestyle and how much data you use. Remember: You're going to have to figure out a data plan to go with this, and prices vary depending on the plan and the service provider.

(c) 2009, The Miami Herald.

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