I''m currently out cruising from Chicago to Florida, via the Great Lakes and the East Coast. Internet access is an issue. My best solution was a laptop with Wi-Fi. However, I spend a lot of time walking around trying to find a router to connect to - there are surpisingly a lot of them out there. It is time consuming, but I get a lot of excercise. I expect Wi-Fi access to improve when I get to the East Coast. Currently I''m in the Great Lakes, which is rather rural and lacking in homes and towns, let alone wireless routers.
To suppliment, I just started with sprint pcs and their vision plan with a usb cable (I''m surfing SailNet on it now). I have unlimited internet for $15 (in addition to my phone plan). While certainly not as fast as Wi-Fi, it seems much faster than dial-up - after all, it''s digital. It works anywhere on the pcs digital network. So far, I''m happy and it is very easy to use.
However, don''t ask at the sprint store. They are pushing their own brand of "phone" internet, which is very limited. They won''t tell you that you can hook your computer to your phone. They won''t even admit that it is possible. They don''t sell cables. The $20 cable from Radio Shack works fine in any sprint phone that will accept one. I have a Sanyo, which is reported to have better reception, perhaps improving my performance.
If you are liveaboard in a marina with cable service and don''t need to be mobile, I second the motion for a cable modem. You won''t get better speed, service, or reliablity for the money. Wi-Fi is second if you are in a marina that has it.