Review: Novatel Wireless Ovation U720 USB Modem: Part 1

I've been a customer of Verizon Wireless for around eighteen months now, using their PC5740 PC Card to get online to work remotely from just about everywhere I've traveled to. I bought it when I lived in Minnesota, where I spent a lot of time in bars, grabbing a cheeseburger while catching up with the insane workload leveled at me by my last employer. Since that time, I've moved to Chicago, and changed jobs to one where I travel quite a bit. And when I'm not traveling, I usually work from home. Our cable's gone down on occasion, and the Verizon card has saved my bacon, allowing me to stay up and running. I've used my “Wireless Broadband” connection in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington DC, San Diego, and many other places, over the past year or so. When I travel, I rarely spring for the in-room internet access any more; just pop-in the Verizon card and I'm on.

There's a few drawbacks. One, the connection is occasionally fussy. They have a fall back to dialup-quality connection, and I end up on it enough that it just drives me crazy. Second, your computer has to have a PC Card slot to be able to use the card. That means no support for macs, desktops, or ultra-portable laptops. In our home, we have all of these. It would be nice to be able to connect to the wireless broadband connection from my tiny Sony Vaio U750 while traveling, maybe to connect to my Slingbox and watch something recorded on the Tivo. Can't do that, though.

I'm always on the lookout for new devices and new ways of doing things. While doing a random Google search a couple weeks ago, I ran across this. It looked too good to be true. Wireless broadband (or mobile broadband, as Sprint calls it) over USB? Reading the reviews, it looks like something everybody's been waiting for. Was it too good to be true? I decided that I'd check it out, and if it works as well as claimed, it's going to replace my Verizon Wireless card.

I ordered the USB modem from last week, and the modem was delivered to me a few days later.

The device itself is just over two inches long, about an inch and a half wide, and about five eighths of an inch thick. It hangs out of the side of your laptop, attached to a USB port, or you connect it up via an included cable. The cable has two USB connectors for the computer side of the connection. This is to draw more power, sometimes necessary to get you the strongest connection and maximum throughput.

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Part 1 of 3 | Part 2 of 3 | Part 3 of 3

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