Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sprint EVDO Rev A in a Flash

You're familiar with aircards, right? These are the plug-in hardwired devices that enable your laptop or notebook computer to access cellular broadband service. Almost all of them are in the form of a PCMCIA Type II plug-in card. Almost. Now there's the Novatel U720 USB wireless broadband card packaged in the familiar flash drive form factor. It works with both PC and Macintosh computers and connects you to the Internet at blazing fast speeds.

The U720 sure looks like one of those pocket sized solid state hard drives. It's actually a bit larger than most of them. The dimensions are 4 x 1.3 x 0.7 inches. Within that package is a cellular modem that connects to the new higher speed EV-DO Rev A where available. Sprint is aggressively rolling out Rev A service with its download burst speed up to 3.1 Mbps and upload burst speed of 1.8 Mbps. In practice, you'll probably get a bit less bandwidth at most times. Even so, this is enviable broadband Internet service even from a landline. But look, Ma, no wires!

The Novatel U720 also supports Sprint's earlier broadband services. EV-DO Rev 0 offers up to 2.4 Mbps download and 153 Kbps upload speeds in metropolitan areas. Beyond that you can still get 1xRTT service at dial-up type speeds. At least you can connect just about anywhere you can get a Sprint PCS wireless signal.

No external power supply is needed. The U720 gets its power via the USB 2.0 port that also handles data transfer. This particular device is somewhat unique in that it works for both PC and Mac computers. Both Windows and MacOS drivers are included on the fast 4-step installation CD-ROM software.

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