With iPads capable of connecting to AT&T's 3G wireless network not expected to hit the market until next week, on April 30, Sprint is looking to piggy-back on Apple's early success by offering up a free carrying case for the so-called 'magical' tablet to anyone who buys its Overdrive 4G hotspot device. The case includes a side pocket for the Overdrive, which allows customers to use a basic Wi-Fi iPad and still enjoy a fast and always-on internet connection.
Unfortunately, Sprint's WiMAX service is only available in 28 cities for now. If it isn't available in your area yet, the device will fall back to the company's 3G network, still giving you connectivity in most places. It can connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at the same time, so you can get online with your laptop and other devices, not just the iPad. It's a smart marketing move from Sprint but the price will certainly be a deal breaker for many.
Sprint's Overdrive costs $100 after rebates, with a two year contract and $60 monthly plan that includes unlimited 4G access and 5GB of 3G bandwidth. On the other hand, Apple's 3G iPad will cost $130 more than the currently available Wi-Fi models but require a month-to-month data plan that can range from $15 to $30, instead of a two-year commitment.