AirCard Rental Review | (AirCardRental.com)

AirCard Rental

See the 2011 AirCard Rental Review for the most recent info.

2 year mobile broadband contracts aren’t for everyone. Neither is having prepaid wireless broadband hotspots all across the country.

Sometimes, you just need to be able to get online for a couple days while you’re at a business conference, on vacation, or RV’ing across the country on a roadtrip. That’s where AirCardRental.com comes in.

While they advertise $5.66 per day AirCard rentals, note that you’ll get that rate if you’re renting for 30 days or more (as with most other mobile broadband rental companies). Since we last took a look at them, they’ve expanded their product line to include a variety of devices.

Contents:

  1. How Does It Work?
  2. How Much Does It Cost?
  3. What Devices Can You Get?
  4. Should You Get It?

 

How Does AirCardRental.com Work?

AirCard Rental ProcessLike most mobile broadband rental companies, AirCardRental.com works in 4 steps:

  1. Order Your Broadband Card
  2. Receive in your mail via courier
  3. Install software, plug in your broadband card, use it
  4. Return it via a prepaid mailing envelope for $10.95 included at the time of rental.

Since process doesn’t change much from provider to provider, the major differences come down to the company, how much it costs, the underlying network provider (speed & coverage) and what devices you can get.

 

Update: I had the chance to experience AirCardRental.com’s service 1st hand. See the AirCard Rental.com 598U and Sprint MiFi RoadTest for the details.

 

 

Coverage & Speed With AirCardRental.com

Sprint

AirCardRental.com relies on Sprint’s mobile broadband network. As such, they inherit their 3G and 4G speed & coverage.

To access 4G speeds, you’ll need a 4G capable device like the Sierra Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot (see the device section below for more info)

Mobile Broadband Provider

Sprint

Speed 5 Stars
Advertised Download Speed 600 Kbps  – 1.4 Mbps (3G)

3 – 6 Mbps (4G)
Real (Tested) Download Speed 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps (3G)  

3 – 6 Mbps (4G)

Advertised Upload Speed 350 Kbps – 500 Kbps (3G)

1 Mbps (4G)
Real (Tested) Upload Speed 250 Kbps – 425 Kbps (3G)

Up to 1 Mbps (4G)

   
Coverage 4 Stars
Regional or National? National (3G)

Regional (4G)

Check Coverage

Full Review Available? Sprint Mobile Broadband Review

 

If you need to check Sprint’s coverage in your area, you can find their coverage tool here and on AirCardRental’s updated coverage page (at the time of this review, some of the tool did not fit on the page. We recommend viewing the tool on Sprint’s website if you encounter any issues).

Be sure to select "Data, Email and Multimedia" then plug in your address to find out if you’ll have coverage where you need it.

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How Much Does It Cost?

AirCard Rental’s pricing & terms of service change based on which of the 4 broadband devices you’re renting (from cheapest to most expensive):

 

—————-

Prices sourced on 7/18/2010 from AirCardRental.com

USB Broadband Card Plan & PricingSierra Wireless 598 USB Modem (Sprint)

  • 3 days $30.00
  • 4 days $40.00
  • 5 days $50.00
  • 6 days $50.00
  • 7 days $50.00
  • 8 days $60.00
  • 9 days $70.00
  • 10 days $80.00
  • 11 days $90.00
  • 12 days $90.00
  • 13 days $90.00
  • 14 days $90.00
  • 15 days $100.00
  • 16 days $110.00
  • 17 days $120.00
  • 18 days $130.00
  • 19 days $140.00
  • 20 days $140.00
  • 21 days $140.00
  • 22 days $150.00
  • 24 days $160.00
  • 25 days $170.00
  • 26-30 days $180

 

USB broadband cards have a 2GB per week data allowance. If renting for a month, that’s 10 GB (double the amount provided by traditional postpaid carriers such as Verizon).

On the other end of the spectrum, that works out to 292 MB per day. As such, it’s best not to use it for downloading movies and the like. Streaming services such a Hulu or YouTube would be fine, just be sure to keep track of usage.

If watching the ‘clock’ isn’t your thing, unlimited data is available for an extra $20 per week. Otherwise, going over the weekly limit is $0.02/kb (that’s $20.48 per MB. If over the limit, downloading two songs could run you about $100).

Do these numbers look like a foreign language to you? Put it in perspective by seeing how other providers match up in the mobile broadband rental comparison & How Much is 5 Gigabytes?

 

3G MiFi Hotspot (Unlimited Data)MiFi

AirCardRental.com now carries the MiFi 2200 with a flat rate pricing model similar to WiFiRents.com but without the 5 GB data cap (both are $100).

While $100 may be a high price in comparison to Virgin Mobile’s $60 for 5 GB that doesn’t expire for a month, this will be most beneficial for families or business teams in the field. Since it’s unlimited data, you can share the device with up to 4 other people (5 in total) without worrying about the data cap.

 

 

4G Sierra Overdrive (Unlimited Data)Sprint Overdrive

Like the MiFi 2200, the 4G Sierra Overdrive is also available.

Although it’s pricier at $150 per week, the difference between the two is the ability to access Sprint’s 4G network. As mentioned in the coverage and speed section above, 4G is up to 6 times as fast as 3G. Coupled with unlimited data, it’s an attractive option if you’ve got a need for high speed on the go.

Again, business teams and families will benefit the most here. Splitting 3G service with up to 5 devices can slow down the service quite a bit. If one person’s streaming YouTube, another music over Pandora all while you’re trying to get some work done downloading documents, things might slow down more than you like.

The Overdrive would fix that.

If you need it for more than 2 to 3 months, talk to Clear about the month to month plan. However, if you need it for less time, AirCard Rental may be the place to service your needs.

 

 

Mexico & Canada USB Broadband Cards

AirCard Rental also uses a weekly rental pricing model here. At $110 per week, it’s definitely an viable option versus AT&T’s or Verizon’s international mobile broadband plans (ranging anywhere from $130 to $200+ for limited amounts of data).

 

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What Devices Can You Get?

A quick glance at AirCard Rental’s broadband card selection will tell you they’re exclusive to Sprint.

This is a good. Sprint’s got one of the best networks for 3G coverage and have done consistently well with mobile broadband speed.

Also to their credit, you’ve got the 3 types of broadband cards I outlined in "How To Pick The Best Broadband Card". In short form, you should be able to find something to work with it no matter what kind of computer you have.

 

AirCard Rental Broadband Cards

AirCard Rental Broadband Card

Sierra Wireless 598 USB Modem (Sprint)

Sprint 595 PC Card

Sprint 597e

Sierra Compass 597

Full Review

Sierra Wireless 598U Broadband Card

Sierra Wireless AirCard 595

Sierra Wireless AirCard 597e

Sierra Wireless Compass 597

Video Review

N/A

N/A

Form Factor

USB Broadband Card

PC Card (PCMCIA)

ExpressCard

USB Broadband Card

External Antenna Jack

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max Download Speed Potential

3.1 Mbps

3.1 Mbps

3.1 Mbps

3.1 Mbps

OS Compatibility

2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7; Mac OS X; Linux

2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7; Mac OS X

2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7; Mac OS X

2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7; Mac OS X

Network Compatibility

Sprint 3G Network (EVDO Rev. A)

Sprint 3G Network (EVDO Rev. A)

Sprint 3G Network (EVDO Rev. A)

Sprint 3G Network (EVDO Rev. A)

GPS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Extra Storage

microSD (up to 32 GB)

No

No

No

Support Info

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Price

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

 

AirCard Rental Mobile Hotspot

Sprint MiFi 2200

Sprint Overdrive

Full Review

Sprint MiFi 2200

Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot

Video Review

Form Factor

Personal Hotspot

Personal Hotspot

External Antenna Jack

No

No

Max Download Speed Potential

3.1 Mbps

Up to 10 Mbps via WiMAX / Up to 3.1 Mbps via 3G

OS Compatibility

Anything that works via WiFi (computers, phones, game consoles, etc)

Anything that works via WiFi (computers, phones, game consoles, etc)

Network Compatibility

Sprint 3G Network (EVDO Rev. A)

Sprint 3G / 4G Network (EVDO Rev. A / WiMAX)

GPS

Yes

Yes (when in 3G mode)

Extra Storage

No

microSD (up to 16 GB) & is shared via WiFi with any connected device

Battery Life

4 Hours (with one device)

3 Hours (36 Hours on Standby)

Support Info

No

Yes

Price

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

Included in AirCard Rental Fee

 

^Back To Contents

AirCard Rental’s terms and conditions page has a summary for those that ‘don’t like to read legalese’:

For the most recent information see AirCard Rental’s Terms and Conditions.

Should You Get It?

Thumbs DownSince the last time we reviewed AirCardRental.com, they’ve made some significant improvements. With an expanded product line and competitive pricing, they stack well against the competition.

Unfortunately, having only Sprint as a partner works against them in comparison to a variety of other providers other mobile broadband rental companies provide.

If you like what you see, check out AirCard Rental and tell me what you think.

As with all other companies, check out how they stack up against the competition in the Mobile Broadband Rental Comparison before making a final decision or read about my experience with AirCard Rental here.

 

Related Reviews:

2010 Wireless Broadband Comparison

2010 Prepaid Mobile Broadband Comparison

2010 Mobile Broadband Reviews

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1 Comment

  1. Maria Richardson says:


    I rented from these guys (aircardrental.com). The aircard arrived 6 days after I requested it (USPS tracking number confirms this), so I had to make other arrangements. When the card arrived, I returned it immediately as I no longer needed it (they confirmed they got it back.) This was a month and a half ago. I’ve been ever since asking for a refund, as the card did not arrive when I asked for it (one day late is an inconvenience anyone can deal with, but it was 6 days late). They don’t seem to believe in refunds – so beware before you rent!


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