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JiWire gives the Sprint Nextel release of the Novatel Wireless U720 USB modem for EVDO Rev. A high marks: The USB device works on computers that lack PC Card and ExpressCard slots, including desktop machines. In testing, JiWire found that the modem worked well on both Windows PCs and Macs, despite any official support yet for Mac OS X. (A modem script can be downloaded from EVDOInfo Forums.)
On Rev. A networks in San Francisco, the reviewer saw average speeds above 800 Kbps downstream; they topped 1 Mbps consistently with a five-bar signal strength. Upstream speeds were more modest, averaging 150 Kbps with no speeds above 180 Kbps, far below the top end of the range that’s expected with Rev. A. The modem works with the more prevalent Rev. 0 networks, too, which run somewhat slower.
The modem’s downside is a bit of awkwardness in its form factor. JiWire writes that it’s three times thicker than a PC Card with nearly the same width and length. It’s quite large to plug into a USB jack. A supplied Y-cable, with two USB plugs, can draw more power and locate the modem further from the computer. But it doesn’t work with a MacBook Pro, which has one USB port on either side of the computer.
Sprint offers the modem for $50 with a two-year contract, and, as with other EVDO plans, charges $60 per month for unmetered use when coupled with a Sprint voice plan and a two-year commitment, or $80 per month without.
Posted by Glennf at December 29, 2006 1:26 PM