The in-car Internet system gets reviews: Autonet is packaging a car-oriented router that combines a cell data modem and subscription with a Wi-Fi gateway. The device costs $500 and plans are $30 per month for a measly 1 GB of data or $60 for 5 GB. The higher rate is precisely what you'd pay a carrier directly for such an item with a 2-year contract; Autonet requires just a 1-year commitment. Unlike portable cell routers that come with car-power adapters, Autonet's device is installed in the trunk or back, and is wired into a car's electrical system. Antennas are part of the unit, however.
Edward Baig of USA Today reminded potential buyers that a 3G connection requires a 3G cell network, and traveling in areas with spotty or no 3G coverage could be disappointing. Overall, he's not unhappy with it. He concludes, "Having a rolling hot spot is an appealing, if expensive, service for a lot of families. Just keep your expectations — and those of your kids — in check."
The Wall Street Journal's elder tech statesman Walt Mossberg finds the service too slow for video beyond YouTube snippets, just as Baig does, but seems to agree that for the right person or family, having continuous Internet access is worth the cost.
I haven't tested Autonet, but the router's cost isn't out of line with similar systems: Junxion, acquired recently by Sierra Wireless, sells its devices for $600 to $700 a pop, with discounts for quantity, because they're aimed at corporate road warriors.
But I can't see the benefit of getting a box with a sealed 3G card permanently installed in your car. For those who might find the Autonet a reasonable choice, the Kyocera KR2 ($220) coupled with the 3G EVDO card of your choice--including tethered handsets. The KR2 is portable, cheaper, and more flexible. The disadvantage is having to use a car-power adapter, an increased likelihood of theft if left in the car, and a unit that's not designed to be as rugged.