Gadgets for humans

Need WiFi when traveling abroad? Rental MiFis are getting cheaper.

Seven Sisters, East Sussex, England

XCom Global first caught our eye when they offered free MiFis to relief workers in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami struck in March. The company offers international 3G WiFi access for travelers in more than 35 countries.

For the general consumer, the wireless Internet rental service is particularly appealing for its affordability, and this week XCom Global announced a drop in its already low prices. You can now connect to the Internet while overseas for $12.95 day using XCom’s 3G/GSM USB. If you’re hungering for faster speed and need to connect more than one device, their HSPA+ network MiFi, which can connect up to 5 devices, was $17.95 per day, and is now just $14.95 per day. This lower price is a preview of XCom Globals’ new membership pricing, which is a free program starting in June.

I tested out XCom’s MiFi device on a recent trip across the pond for The Next Web Conference while I was staying in the UK. The device allowed me to keep up with blogging speeds while lying in Victoria Park in London on a battery that lasted nearly 4 hours. It worked everywhere in the UK where I also had local cell phone service- loosing strength only when I decided to take a train out into the country, but considering I was in a town without paved roads where chickens outnumber the human population, that’s hardly the MiFi’s fault.

With XCom Global’s new pricing plan*, if you have a multi-country itinerary, say you are backpacking across Europe, savings are even greater. Second rental units are no longer an additional fee and 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. countries for rental units are a flat $30 per rental regardless of length of trip. So, for example, if you were taking a 10 day trip to Germany and France and renting a MiFi – it would have cost $269.50 ($17.95 x 10 + $9 x $10) – but now will cost $149.50. And if you add another country – instead of paying an additional $9.00 per day, you pay a flat $30 – even if your trip is 30 days or more. As an added bonus, shipping fees ($29.90) are waived for all orders placed at least 10 days in advance.

Oh, and did I mention, data is unlimited? Now, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

*Update: XCom Global charges a $800 penalty fee if the MiFi device is lost or damaged. The service is similar to a rental car company, in which you are responsible for the safe and timely return of the rental (unless you take out the optional insurance) and there are fees involved for both late returns and for damaged or lost rentals.

The $800 fee includes the replacement cost for the MiFi and SIM card plus lost revenue on the missing unit (estimating the time lost while the lost claim is filed and then a new MiFi and SIM are purchased and put into the rental cycle).

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard.

Published May 4, 2011 — 19:56 UTC