While we've already bemoaned the $50 premium on AT&T's model, we have confirmed there is no activation fee, which narrows the price between it and Verizon's offering to just $15 (and Ma Bell, along with Sprint, seem to be the only two offering a $50 Media Hub voucher). On paper, US Cellular has the lowest two-year cost with $760 on contract, but $15 monthly for 200MB is pretty ridiculous when just $20 gets you an entire gig on Verizon's network, or $30 for 2GB on Sprint. T-Mobile wins the award for the most insane disparity in data offerings: $25 for 200MB, or 25 times the data allotment (5GB) for just $15 more. 'Twas the best of deals, 'twas the worst of deals.
If you ask us, there isn't really a clear-cut winner, but we'd definitely contend Big Magenta's got the most alluring on-contract value if 5GB is in the range of your data usage; the equivalent plan costs $60 on Sprint and $50 on Verizon, with the latter offering no discount for making a two-year commitment. Then again, if you're the kind who prefers to be unrestrained and plan to spend $600 regardless, it's Verizon with the most competitive data plans overall. And of course, your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by network performance in your area. Consider yourself informed.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.