Sorry, I can't answer the 1/3 price, but I have been VERY happy with Synapse Wireless RF Engines. Specifically the RF200. They claim a 3 mile LOS Range. Less without LOS. Currently they are $26.66 http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/technologies/semiconductors/wireless-rf/rf-modules-solutions/802154-zigbee/Pages/6469811-RF200PD1.aspx
The pin pitch is 2mm so you will need a PCB to put them on. I make some PCBs and sell them assembled for around $13. I will sell BARE PCBs for $5.
I also make a board that include some basic features that help out with basic tasks. Such as an RTC, Temp Sensor, EEProm, Voltage Regulation.
SNARF-BASE v03i5: (Pictured is an older revision SNARF-BASE v03h2)
Within the next month, Synapse Wireless will release a surface mount version of the RF200 called the SM200. It will sell for $14. http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/Technologies/Product.aspx?ProductID=SM200P81SYNAPSEWIRELESSINC6005332
I need to take pictures of the newer boards that have a higher quality of assembly. Here is a board that is meant as an "Addon" or "stacking board" for the SNARF-BASE. It uses an ATMega32u4 and logs to a microSD Card.
Synapse Wireless runs their own software on the chips. They call it SNAP OS and is programmed with SNAPpy. A stripped down version of python. All of the modules are programmable over the air. Also each module has its own MCU. This has allowed me to replace many arduino/xbee combination with just a RF200 and a Breakout Board. (the first image) The RF200 and SM200 use an ATMega128RFA1 as the MCU.
The point of my post in not to get you to buy stuff from me. I release ALL of my design as open source in eagle format. So, If you want to buy boards from me, then go ahead. If not, feel free to take my designs and modify as you see fit.
DISCLAIMER I do not work for Synapse Wireless, I am just a happy customer. I also strongly believe they have a better product than the XBee and wish more people would use them.
BOB Eagle files:
ATMega32u4 addon with microSD socket:
Designs not finished, but work for me:
RFEngine (Generic term for FR100, RF200, RF300) Shield for Arduino. Only safe for a 3.3 volt arduino:
Also and Xbee->RFEngine adapter:
Again, All eagle design files are released under CC BY-SA. If you ask, I will most likely relax the BY-SA part of the license.
So what makes Synapse Wireless SNAP OS so much more powerful than an XBee radio by itself? The RF Engines are programmable. They have two UARTs (except the RF300). If you are going to start, I would recommend starting with the RF200, or design a board around the SM200 when release. The RF Engines can do RPC calls to each other, to Portal, or to SNAP connect. This adds a lot of power to the SNAP Network. There is no need for a coordinator like in an XBee network. The mesh is auto forming. If nothing else, Please check out Synapse Wireless. In order to be honest, there are TWO Major things that bother me, but these are relatively minor compared to the limitations of XBee and other technologies.
The first limitation is they are only distributed through Future Electronics.
The second limitation is the SNAPpy on the radios is limited to 16 bit signed integers. (32767 to -32767) These are work arounds, but that one gets me a lot.