If you want to access the internet anywhere but don’t want to sign a contract for Verizon’s or Sprint’s 3G MiFi devices, the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 should do the trick. Best of all, it’s priced at just $149.99. You can either buy it online or pick it up at your local Best Buy / Radio Shack store. Product page. Continue reading for our full review. Click here to see more hands-on pictures.

Introduction

Simply put, the $149.99 Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 — manufactured by Novatel Wireless — is a portable WiFi hotspot that lets you connect up to 5 devices via 3G wireless. There’s no complicated setup or software that you have to install, simply head on over to the activation website located in the Quickstart Guide, and you’re good to go. Plans start from just $10 (100MB) and go up to $60 (5GB), which can be loaded up using cash (top-up), debit, or credit cards — $20 for 300MB and 40 for 1GB of data transfer. There’s no contract required, regardless if you decide to use it for one day or several months.

Overview

In addition to the device itself, you also get a charger, carrying pouch, and USB cable. It measures a svelte 3.50″ x 2.32″ x 0.35″ and weighs in at just 2.05-ounces. The brushed aluminum top casing is a sleek touch, which surprisingly enough, does not attract fingerprints whatsoever, and the only button you’ll find is “power”.

Since the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 uses Sprint’s 3G network, we found the speeds to be more than sufficient for browsing websites, watching YouTube videos, and yes, even online games (Xbox Live, PSN, etc.). We averaged 1.24Mbps down and 0.71Mbps up from our location, according to Speedtest.net. Connecting (one-touch connectivity) to the device is extremely secure since each connection requires a password, protected with WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, WEP and SPI firewalls. The specification page says that one should expect up to 40-hours of continuous usage on a full charge, and that number holds true, as we got 40.2-hours during our test.

Bottom Line

Anyone looking for secure internet on-the-go, should look no further than the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200. Personally, we’re picking up several more units for the office, as we can never rely on the free Wi-Fi found at hotels and trade shows.