Clearwire Rover: A Pay-as-You-Go 4G Hotspot!

Last Updated Sep 3, 2010 9:41 AM EDT

The Rovers may not look like dogs, but they're awfully good at playing fetch. Specifically, these modems from Clearwire fetch blazing-fast 4G WiMax -- and do it with pay-as-you-go pricing. Good boy!

The gorgeous Rover Puck ($150) works much like the beloved MiFi 2200, creating a WiMax-powered hotspot (with 802.11n Wi-Fi!) for up to eight nearby devices.

The Rover Stick ($100) is a more traditional USB modem -- and rather pointless, IMHO, given the major bump in versatility you get from spending just 50 bucks more.

Either way, Clearwire doesn't force you into a contract like certain other carriers (cough ALL OF THEM cough). Instead you can pay as you go: $5 for a day, $20 for a week, or $50 for a month. Those are very reasonable, very competitive rates -- especially considering that you're buying 4G connectivity!

Now for the bad news: Clearwire's nationwide coverage is, for the moment, limited. You won't find it outside major cities, and some states don't have it at all. I should know: I live in one of them (Michigan). Oh, Clearwire, won't you set up your magic towers in my neighborhood? Pretty-please?

Hopefully I'll get the chance for some hands-on testing soon. In the meantime, the Rovers look like to me like can't-miss solutions for anyone seeking high-speed Internet on the go (or even in the office).

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.