Take Internet access on vacation

Here's a roundup of personal hotspot tools to keep you and your family connected

Take Internet access on vacation with you

While most of us can use our phones to get at the Web and do email while we're at that rented beach or lake house, what do you do when the kids want to attach their laptops or the spouse wants to connect that tablet? Portable hotspots are available from a range of providers today and, providing you're in an area that has decent cell service, the costs are now low enough for everyman.

AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G

Provider: AT&T

Carrier: Same

Product name: AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G

Tech: 4G LTE

Speeds supported: 4G speeds delivered by HSPA+ 2-6 Mbps download; or where LTE is available (51 markets now) 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 5

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support: yes

Dimensions: 1.77" LCD screen; 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches; 3.6 ounces

Device pricing: $69.99 with 2-year contract; $269.99 no-commitment pricing

Service pricing: 5GB for $50/mo.; $10 per GB after 5GB (the service plan price is the same for both on and off contract)

Activation charge: $36

Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi 4620L

Provider: Verizon Wireless

Carrier:  Same

Product name: Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi 4620L

Tech: 3G/4G LTE + Global Ready with Quad Band GPRS/EDGE -- 850/900/1800/1900MHz, Quad Band HSPA+/UMTS -- 850/900/1900/2100MHz

Speeds supported: 4G LTE 5-12Mbps download, 2-5Mbps upload; 3G 600Kbps-1.4Mbps download, 500-800Kbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 10 devices with 4G LTE and 5 on 3G

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support: 4G SIM Card (3FF)

Dimensions: 3.76 x 2.36 x 0.53 inches

Device pricing: $49.99 with 2-year contract; $269.99 with month-to-month pricing

Service pricing (pricing is the same for contract and month-to-month): Share Everything Plans: Stepped fees ranging from $50/mo. for 4GB data to $130/mo. for 20GB data, with each 2GB increment costing $10 more per month

Activation charge: $35

Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L

Provider: Verizon Wireless

Carrier:  Same

Product name: Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L

Tech: 3G/4G LTE + Global Ready with Quad Band GPRS/EDGE -- 850/900/1800/1900MHz, Quad Band HSPA+/UMTS -- 850/900/1900/2100MHz

Speeds supported: 4G LTE 5-12Mbps download, 2-5Mbps upload; 3G 600Kbps-1.4Mbps download, 500-800Kbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 10 devices with 4G LTE and 5 on 3G

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support: 4G SIM Card (3FF)

Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.71 inches

Device pricing:   $19.99 with 2-year contract and $249.99 with month-to-month pricing

Service pricing (pricing is the same for contract and month-to-month): Share Everything Plans: Stepped fees ranging from $50/mo. for 4GB data to $130/mo. for 20GB data, with each 2GB increment costing $10 more per month

Activation charge: $35

Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot

Provider: Sprint

Carrier: Same

Product name: Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot

Tech: 3G, 4G WiMax, 4G LTE

Speeds supported:
3G: download 600Kbps-1.4Mbps; upload 350-500Kbps
4G WiMax: download 3-6Mbps; upload up to 1.5Mbps
4G LTE: download 6-8Mbps; upload 2-3Mbps

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 8

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support: No SIM; microSD slot for shared network storage with up to 8 users; supports up to 32GB

Dimensions: 3.84 x 2.25 x 0.95

Device pricing: $99.99 with contract; $349.99 without

Service pricing:

Contract: $34.99, 3GB combined 3G/4G data; $49.99, 6GB combined 3G/4G data; $79.99, 12GB combined 3G/4G data

No-contract: Day: $14.99 for 150MB (includes 50MB off-network roaming); Week: $29.99 for 500MB (includes 100MB roaming); Month: $49.99 for 1.5GB (includes 150MB roaming)

Activation charge: $36 (may apply with contract; not required for no-contract)

Overdrive ProTM 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot

Provider: Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go

Carrier:  Sprint          

Product name:  Overdrive ProTM 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot 

Tech: 3G/4G (WiMax)

Speeds supported: 3-6Mbps download; 1.5Mbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 5

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support: Micro SD Slot for Shared Network Storage

Dimensions:  1.7" LCD display; 2.67
 x 2.67 
x 0.7 inches; 3.37 ounces

Device pricing:  $119.99

Service pricing (monthly only):
$35/month unlimited 4G data or up to 2GB of 3G data
$55/month unlimited 4G data and up to 5GB of 3G data

Activation charge:  None

Novatel MiFi

Provider: Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go

Carrier: Sprint          

Product name: Novatel MiFi

Tech: 3G

Speeds supported: 1.4 Mbps download; 800Kbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 5

Wi-Fi tech: 802.11b/g/n

SIM card support:  N/A

Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.40 inches; 2.05 ounces

Device pricing: $99.99

Service pricing (monthly only): $35/month for up to 2GB of 3G data

Activation charge:  None

NetZero 4G Hot Spot

Provider: NetZero

Carrier: Clearwire

Product name:  NetZero 4G Hot Spot

Tech:  4G -- WiMax

Speeds supported:  up to 10Mbps download, 1.5Mbps upload

Number of simultaneous attached devices supported: 8

WiFi tech: 802.11b/g

SIM card support: N/A

Dimensions: 3.4 x 3.4 x 0.7 inches

Device pricing (no-contract only): $99.95 plus $19.95 shipping/handling

Service pricing (no contract only): Free/200MB/mo.; $9.95/500MB/mo.; $19.95/1GB/mo.; $34.95/2GB/mo.; $49.95/4GB/mo

Activation charge: None

Phone tether options

Verizon:  All 4G LTE smartphones can share the link with up to five, eight or 10 Wi-Fi devices, depending on the phone. The Galaxy S III, for example, can support up to 10 devices.

Pricing: Customers on Share Everything plans have this feature already. Customers on unlimited data plans or on usage based pricing plans can add the mobile hotspot feature for $20 for 2GB per month, and can add and remove the feature as needed.

AT&T: Tethering is an option for existing phone users.  

Pricing: $20 for an extra 2GB/mo. Not available as a monthly, pay-as-you-go option.