Gadget Lust: Sony Laptops with Built-in MiFi

Remember the Verizon MiFi 2200, the awesome little portable Wi-Fi hotspot that shares a broadband connection with up to five devices? Starting June 20, Sony is engineering MiFi-like features into new VAIO laptops.

Dubbed Share My Connection, the Verizon-powered technology turns select VAIO Y- and Z-series laptops into Wi-Fi access points, able to share their 3G broadband goodness with -- you guessed it -- up to five other devices.

What kinds of devices? Anything Wi-Fi-enabled: iPads, iPods, netbooks, other laptops, and so on. Ah, but at what price?

As you might expect, Share My Connection doesn't come free -- or cheap. It requires activation of a Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband account; plans start at $39.99 per month. The good news is I think you do can this month-to-month rather than committing to a two-year contract.

This begs the question: When it comes to sharing a connection, what's the better solution? A laptop with the capability built in, or a standalone gizmo? I'm a little on the fence. The MiFi is one more thing to remember and one more charger to pack, but way more convenient than having to power up your PC every time you want to share your broadband.

Personally, I'm still partial to a pay-as-you-go mobile broadband solution like Virgin's Broadband2Go, which you can actually turn into a MiFi-like mobile hotspot. And I'm still jealous as hell of Verizon Palm Pre and Pixi users, who get MiFi-style 3G sharing absolutely free. (I still can't believe that. It's like there's a disturbance in The Force.)

So how do you like your MiFi: baked-in or to-go?