New Gear: Novatel Ovation U720

After having a couple of shows already where there was a bunch of downtime, I tried to figure out how to better use that downtime, and perhaps keep connected for orders, etc. About that same time, I discovered an e-mail at work about a deal I could get with Sprint for wireless broadband.

For those who haven’t heard of it, wireless broadband is broadband-like speeds, but over the cellular networks. I was skeptical about the speeds, but there were enough folks out there raving about the speeds, that I decided to give it a whirl.

I ordered a USB version — my MacBook doesn’t have slots for any of the card-based formats, and frankly, a USB cell-modem gives me a lot of flexibility to move it around in the future.

But, for Mac users, there’s an inconvenient truth: You have to unlock the device on a Windows machine. Once it’s unlocked, you can install the Apple WWAN update and the Sprint software, and the thing just works. All this is documented on Sprint’s site, and seems to work as documented.

So how good is it?

St. Louis currently is only EVDO — the EVDO Rev A stuff arrives here in a couple of months — so the fastest speeds are yet to come. However, the current incarnation is faster than my first broadband connection was not that many years ago. From the office (where I’m writing this right now on my MacBook over the connection), I get over 1200bps down and 130bps up. When Rev A hits, the uplink speeds will be even better.

Sprint also has an all-you-can-eat data plan for the thing that’s not too terribly expensive — again cheaper than any broadband plan I’ve owned.

In theory, I should be able to update galleries, and do some advanced work in the field, as long as there’s a cell tower close by. Very, very cool!